Tools of the Trade: Taking Notes

Google Keep Vs. Evernote

The more I’ve grown in my career the more hats i’ve had to wear, the more balls I’ve had to jungle, and the more people I’ve had to work with. All of this means one thing, more stuff being thrown at me. I don’t mind having tasks and ideas tossed at me, the hard part is catching it all.

I’ve realized through our training programs that outplacement clients have A LOT of stuff thrown at them as well. A slew of tasks and ideas come rushing their way and while none of the tasks are particularly difficult, the quantity is enough to overwhelm even the most organized people.

While pen and paper are my preferred method when I’m sitting around the conference room table, I’ve turned to software to help me elsewhere. Even my pen and paper notes end up digitized at some point.

You may have noticed by now that I really like Google’s catalog of tools. They are usually free. They usually work on all devices as well as on the web. And they usually are very well thought out.

The main tool I use for on-the-fly note taking is Google Keep. Google Keep allows you to quickly capture what’s on your mind and get a reminder later (if you set it up) at the right place or time. Keep works on your phone, tablet, computer and Android wearables. Everything you add syncs across all of your devices so your thoughts are always with you. It looks a lot like digital post-it notes and is reminiscent of the Kanban style of getting things done. 

Often, ideas and tasks come to me when I’m in the car or somewhere I don’t have the ability to type it out but Google Keep allows you to speak a voice memo on the go and have it automatically transcribed. Rather than taking a note, I often grab a photo of an image, receipt, or document and organize or expound upon it when I have the time. I also color code and label notes to quickly organize and recognize them which helps me find what I need at a glance. As with all things Google, the Search function is critical.

Another fun perk is that you can set a location-based reminder to pull up your list or task when you pull back up to the office or show a grocery list right when you get to the store.

For power users, I recommend Evernote. Evernote was actually Inc. Magazine’s 2011 Company of the Year and there’s no shortage of users singing it’s praises.

Evernote, like many subscription softwares, has a free version but also several paid versions that each add functionality as you upgrade your subscription. It is also available on all of your devices as well as web and computer apps.

I won’t try to get into all of the things Evernote can do. You should check it out for yourself. For me though one of the biggest perks to Evernote is the deeper levels of organization. You can organize everything into notebooks so I have Personal, Works, Volunteer, notebooks and a handful more all set up with more tasks than I care to admit organized into them. Like Keep, you can also set reminders right inside the task.

One of my favorite add-ons that Evernote offers is it’s “Web Clipper”. Evernote Web Clipper is a simple extension for your web browser that lets you capture full-page articles, images, selected text, important emails, and any web page that inspires you. Think of it like your browser’s Bookmark function on steroids. I clip sections of articles online and set up task lists based on them or simply referencing them.

Like my previous posts, I use a combination of both but I don’t recommend that. I love Google keep for it’s simplicity that makes it almost a seamless part of my life. But Evernote is so robust that I can’t just toss it aside.