Thoughts about personal information management


I’ve had to become a master of personal information management after a career spent as a contract technical writer and juggling multiple projects

Growing up with Dyslexia always made personal organization a challenge for me. Also, I found out years ago that I am better organized electronically than I am in a traditional paper and filing cabinet method. The rise of PDAs and software like Microsoft Outlook and late great Lotus Organizer gave me a level of organization I could never have reached on my own. Later, I gravitated to the iPhone and iPad for organizing my work. So I guess you could say I’m dependent on electronic to-do lists, calendars, and file storage.

My thyroid surgery made me reconsider my productivity and how I capture and organize information.

Now, software like Microsoft Office OneNote and Evernote give me an edge when it comes to my organizational skills and help me better access the bits and bytes of information I need to stay organized and keep the multiple plates spinning the comprise my personal and professional lives.

My personal information management tools

Right now, my main personal information management tools include:

Moleskine notebooks

These days my best ideas come at night. I came back to using Moleskine notebooks to write in before I go to bed so I can cut down on my screen time right before bedtime. I’ve tried Nomatic notebooks and Amazon notebooks but Moleskine notebooks just feel right to me. I also like the feel of a ballpoint pen on the paper.

Google Calendar

Like a lot of folks, I run my life using Google Calendar with a little help from Fantastical on my iPhone 8 Plus and iPad Pro. I set SMS alerts to keep myself on time for appointments and meetings during the day.

DropBox Paper

While I’m not a big Dropbox for file storage person right now, I’m using Dropbox Paper, their minimalist word processor, to write drafts for my LinkedIn articles and Medium posts. I also use it for notes when I’m preparing for IDG TECHtalk tweet chats

Evernote

I have an Evernote Premium subscription and use it for lots of information capture and management tasks including archiving:

  • Screen captures
  • Document drafts
  • Project research

I like the fact that I can upload recordings I take using TapeACall directly into Evernote for archiving.

Evernote has become a battle in efficiency for me. I’m back to using tags and notebooks to ensure my 14,951 notes (and counting) stay organized and searchable.

While Evernote hit some bumps as a company, got new executive leadership, and I forgot to renew my Premium subscription this year for a few days, I use it primarily as an archive these days.

Microsoft OneNote

My OneNote usage predates Evernote, and I drifted away from OneNote for a while when I standardized on Macs and iOS devices. Now, OneNote is my go to app at work for notes and capturing ideas.

Most of my actual work related note taking these days happens in OneNote.

Personal information management 101

I find my level of personal information management always to be growing and while some may say to settle on one tool — I am partial to the mix I’ve found because it works for me and look forward to seeing it evolve in the future.

What do you use for managing the bits and bytes of your personal and professional lives?


Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients such as NetApp, Dell, and Neustar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by DevOps Agenda, Mobile Business Insights, TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.

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