Note Making

It’s very important in today’s world to keep a track of what all you are supposed to accomplish on a daily basis. Maybe, that’s why there are so many tools and apps that allow you to make notes, jot down to-do, plans for not just your professional but also your personal life.

I am a big fan of project management tools, to-do lists, note makers, et al. For me the this fascination of organizing my life to the smallest detail in fact started with my phone. I have an android smartphone and it allows me to make notes on the go and also syncs them with the notes application on my laptop. This is perfect because for me, my phone is the device where i make a note of anything that I have to do in near future and my laptop is the place where most of those actions get executed. Earlier, it was irritating to reach for the laptop every time it struck me that I had to do something and on the other hand I never used to remember opening up my phone’s note section when I was working on my laptop. Thus, now the sync feature has really relieved me from a lot of mental note making exercise

This love for meticulously organizing the daily level plans turned into a search for the best Project Management tool for my startup Photowalkrs, where I am trying to organise all the photowalks happening in the world on a single platform to make it easier for the hobbyists to join then and gain value from the archives. We need such a tool all the more because right now the co-founders are remotely working on Photowalkrs, thus, we depend a lot on a central database of tasks and actions to know what work is to be done and by whom so that the overall efficiency can match the efficiency we had when we were together on campus till last semester.

I am listing the various tools/apps that I currently use, also mentioning their purpose and why I chose them over other similar tools/apps

  • Any.Do is my to-do list for short term actions. I mostly add actions to the phone app and a lot of them are phone based actions like calling someone, meeting reminders n so on. Thus, the phone-laptop divide for this app is somewhere around 80-20 for me. On laptop it’s available as a chrome extension, which I believe is very smart. I don’t usually feed info in the app, but just plain actions starting with a verb and rarely exceeding 1 line. That’s how the app is designed – to store actions, remind about them and prioritize them. I have a 4*4 widget of the app on my phone’s homescreen (one of the many reasons I love my HTC over a iPhone). I love the way all my important tasks are visible on one of my homescreens without having to open the app from a menu explicitly. Also, adding any new task is a 1 tap function. I dont use it for collaborative work, its just my personal actions and to-do’s and i just filter them according to priority, I dont bother to put the tasks in work/personal folders, im not that big a freak… you see!
  • Evernote is the notebook where I keep all my notes. Evernote is perhaps the most widely used note-app in the world for phones and it is rightly placed at the #1 spot. It’s just brilliant. I have its 4*3 widget on my phone’s homescreen and I also have its desktop app for my windows laptop. Phone-Laptop divide for this app stands at roughly 40-60 for me. I use it to store information and not actions, but the info I put in my evernote app is usually the kind that is not perennial unless its a backup of links, bookmarks, internet settings etc. For permanent stuff, i create doc files and have them on my dropbox or skydrive. I have made several notebooks in my evernote app and use most of them atleast once in a day. Thus, its a pretty handy and flexible app that can basically store anything you want and would make it available cross platform instantly. Also, I use the evernote clipper a lot to snip out interesting pieces of webpages that I want to save for later. If you actively use a smart phone then this is the best app to have, evernote is what made me start a crazy search for the best note-apps and project management tools because I wanted all my other apps to be as efficient as evernote. It’s easy to use and navigate and still has a tree structure to add as many notebooks you want. Also, its very easy to mail/share a note/notebook with someone, thus it’s not completely but somewhat collaborative. The sync feature is the most valuable to me as it keeps notes on my phone and laptop updated all the time.
  • Asanais the project management tool i use for managing all the tasks and info related to photowalkrs with my other team members. Its easy to use and understand and is highly efficient as one can add notes to a task and assign them to others so easily. Although my team members aren’t as enthusiastic about using all these apps as I am, but that’s a different problem all-together (a different post on that!) Thus, I feel it to be more useful than google docs, excel sheets and the other project management apps. I have been searching for the correct project management app for my Photowalkrs work and it seems I’ve found the right one in Asana. I am now waiting for their android app to start delegating tasks on the move. The current mobile site is also pretty good thanks to HTML5 but an android app with its big 4*4 widget is what I’m waiting for! Some of the apps I have used and discarded are –
    • Trello – too simple and i don’t like its workflow, too many switches and clicks involved in viewing projects and user comments
    • Wunderkit – very similar to Asana but the UI isn’t as good and is too tablet like for a laptop
    • Podio – couldn’t understand it completely, maybe I was just tired of shifting my work everytime, so didn’t give it a fair chance but somehow I believe it should’ve attracted me on the first day of use itself like Asana did. These guys have an android app, so that’s cool.
    • Basecamp – I tried their free trial for a few days as I had heard so much about it, but I just couldn’t understand it, it was so messy and unorganized that it almost gave me a headache, Also, I don’t see the point of paying for it when I can use similar apps for free

These are the 3 apps/tools that I use so that I know what all has to be done and what all has to be delegated. I could’ve done individual reviews of the three apps, but i guess that would have been boring for you since they are all similar. For those of you who aren’t the biggest of fans of to-do lists and project planners, sorry for making you read this boring post, but I hope atleast one of the apps caught your attention. Goodluck!

If you use anything else for keeping your days sensible, please leave links with the comments, I love trying out new products especially in this space. Infact I am currently working with Framebench, where we are trying to solve the headache issues of the creative designers. It’s infact something much cooler than just a project management tool, but more on that later!

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