Google Keep and the art of capturing personal research

I’m one of those disaffected Evernote users that people talk about after their fall from Unicorn status. I depended on it for years as a freelance writer. It was my tool of choice for capturing my writing research and ideas. I got away from using Evernote. he UI never changed while its management (and fortunes) changed. While I migrated much if not all the information I was storing in Evernote to Microsoft OneNote, I still went with Google Keep for capturing personal project research.

Continue reading “Google Keep and the art of capturing personal research”

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.

An alternative perspective about taking meeting minutes

people-coffee-tea-meeting.jpg

I was talking to a recruiter once who asked me how I felt about taking meeting minutes. The first thing I said was “I think meeting minutes are overrated because I’ve rarely if ever seen them consulted again by meeting participants. When is the last time you consulted meeting minutes after a meeting was over?” While we both laughed about my response, I was quite serious and didn’t know how serious I was myself until well after the call was over.

Continue reading “An alternative perspective about taking meeting minutes”

My recent thoughts about Evernote


I’m a longtime Evernote user. I go back to the days when nobody knew who they were. I was a customer during their rise. Now over 16K of my notes and a new Evernote corporate management team later I wonder what the future is for the company and the tool that has changed how I stay organized. I read about Evernote users leaving after recent pricing changes, but that’s not me since I’ve been an Evernote Premium user for a couple of years. I believe in paying for software that’s an integral part of my workflow.

These days, Evernote serves as a repository for all of my article writing and project research. It saves me from browser bookmarks and lets me create searchable archives. I use Evernote on my Macs, iPads, and iPhones.

I’ve come around to minimalist word processors like Dropbox Paper and Quip but would never consider using Evernote as a surrogate word processor for writing articles and blog posts. When I crossed the 10,000 note threshold, it was hard to think of Evernote as anything else but a research repository. I even got away from using Evernote for note taking after I rounded that magic threshold.

Evernote as a company fell into the trap of trying to be everything to everybody which hurt the user experience of the core product for users like me. Their ventures into an online store, Evernote Food, and other such diversions seemed to steal away from the core product. I held my nose as Evernote on the Mac more bloatware. It was never clear if it was poor executive leadership or product management.

I even held out hope for Evernote Business, but even that never seemed to hit its potential. In fact, I wonder if Evernote Business development time would have been better spent developing robust application programming interfaces (APIs) for integrating Evernote into customer relationship management (CRM), sales enablement, collaboration, project management, and other backend platforms.

I spent some time using the OneNote Importer for Mac and even moved notes over to my Microsoft OneNote account. While the conversion process worked better than my expectations, I like having OneNote for just notes. OneNote has become my go to app for note taking during client calls and article interviews. A few years ago, Evernote held that title.

Maybe when the finally put Work Chat out of its misery, I’ll regain a bit more faith in Evernote.

Are you holding the course with Evernote? Or have you jumped ship?


Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and NeuStar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by TechBeacon, Projects@Work, CNET TechRepublic, Network World, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.

Image by Luis Llerena via Unsplash.com

Originally published at willkelly.org on September 8, 2016.