Do Digital Notebook Apps Help Keep You Organized?

There are many pluses to a digital notebook app such as Evernote or OneNote. When I first started writing about these apps I considered adding the reasons not to use an app but I could not come up with any. That struck me as pretty amazing and is because most everyone needs one, whether you are technologically literate or stick to the basics. While there are several digital notebook apps on the market, Evernote and OneNote are the most well-known and the ones with which you are most likely familiar. Neither one is “better” than the other.

Recently I published a newsletter on this subject and a reader asked how she would use this type of app. She currently uses her iphone for to-do lists and miscellaneous information but knows that there are advantages to these apps. She is absolutely correct.

Think of a digital app as a notebook similar to the ones used in school. A colleague recently mentioned that she is happy using a three-ring binder to keep track of her daily workout regimen, the books she reads and the movies she wants to see. It’s great that this system works for her but it’s not for everyone. Others prefer an electronic version. That is where digital apps fit in.

The basic premise of a digital notebook app is simple — you create notes which you can then group together in a notebook, similar to the format of a paper notebook. For example, let’s say you decide to keep client information in a digital notebook app. All you need to do is to create a note for each client. Then collect the client notes in a notebook, if you desire. One advantage of digital notebook apps is that they are flexible, allowing you to move around notes and organize them any way you please. Bottom line: the information you collect is stored all together in a specific spot not in various locations on your computer.

The best feature is that the note you enter is automatically synced to all your devices. If you need to access a note you entered on your computer, it is also available on your phone or tablet. This feature alone will come in handy more times than you can count.

After the note is written, you can add one-word tags describing the contents, making the note easy to find. These programs deserve kudos for their accurate search capabilities.

And let’s not forget that the data is stored in the cloud. As devastating as a computer crash is, it will not affect the data on your electronic digital device. That’s a comforting thought.

The apps work equally well for personal and business.

On the personal side, has this happened to you? A trusted friend gives you the phone number of a house painter but you have no idea where to store it until you need it. There is a good chance you may lose the number before you need it. However, adding it as a digital note in a notebook means that now you can feel comfortable discarding the extra piece of paper. Other ways to use this app personally are to write journal entries, save flights and hotels for your next trip, list doctor appointments or keep track of medications. You can even download and listen to a favorite song from YouTube.

On the business side, how many times have you seen an article (or a section of the article) on the internet that you’d like to save for future use? These apps make it possible to “snip” data from the web, manage projects, encrypt important documents such as passwords and confidential client information and write notes in a meeting. The list is endless. One of my favorite uses is jotting notes on the go such as a book that a friend recommends.

Are these apps free? Yes, although they offer premium editions with extra features. My suggestion: get to know the free programs first and then decide whether you need or want the extra features.

If you are not already using this powerful technology tool or are not taking advantage of its power to help you stay organized, I highly recommend it. When you start using this app or when you increase the types of things you use it for, you will definitely appreciate the benefits of a digital notebook app.

P.S. A newsletter reader did mention a downside to these apps — they do not have an alarm to remind you at a particular time. Most of us depend on reminders to keep us on track and it means that we have to set a reminder on Outlook or on our phone for a specific time.

2 Comments

  1. May 5, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Great post, Leslie. One small note (no pun intended): I’m not sure about OneNote, but Evernote does have alerts/reminders, although not hugely robust ones.

    When you’re in the app (or in the browser version), up at the top right corner of any note, there are multiple tiny icons. The one that looks like an alarm clock lets you set an alarm/alert reminder on any note for any given date and time. When the alert time arrives, you get reminders in-app (which is only helpful if you’re already in the app) and via email. Also, the reminder alerts for any notes you’ve added them to will appear at the the top of the Notes List, to give that note an extra boost.

    Thanks for sharing this great look at digital notebook apps.

    • lesliew-Reply
      May 5, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Julie,
      Thanks so much for the Evernote alerts/reminders information. Even though they are not hugely robust, it’s good to know that they exist.
      Leslie

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