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Take a Memo

by Kerry Dawson

Although I’m a big fan of the powerful Information Managers such as DEVONthink that can also take a simple memo, there is a role for a simple but very functional notepad. When you need to jot something down quickly, you need your memo pad right there. In addition, it needs to be very flexible. It has to be available everywhere. Further, it has to be able to provide you with multiple sheets of memos or notes and allow you to easily bounce from one to another. This is simply because the world is not linear in function. Rather, multiple things can happen at the same time.

You might be on the phone and have to jot down an identification number. While on hold, another call comes in and you need another memo sheet to jot down a piece of info. However, you still need to be able to jump back to the original note with ease. Your boss walks into your office while all this is happening and gives you important information that again has to be jotted down. The person who put you on hold finally comes back on the line with more information to which you have to rapidly get back to their memo. You get my drift. To handle all this rapid fire information you actually need a very simple notes manager that is ever present and extremely flexible. Finally, all this information or at least some of it will more than likely need filing away in your information manager.

Information Managers

Information Managers are powerful products that allow you to manage information. The most powerful of these products can be referred to as Knowledge Management systems*. DEVONthink is both an *Information Management and Knowledge Management system. The following products I would classify as Information Management systems:

  • Together
  • Circus Ponies Notebook
  • Yojimbo
  • SOHO Notes
  • Evernote
  • NoteSuite

Although I’ve placed Evernote in the category of an Information Management system it is verging on a Knowledge Management system.

Information Management and Knowledge Management systems are designed to store all kinds of information. They can be big and complex or actually not that complex to use. Their intent is simply to store all variety of information regardless of kind. Knowledge Management systems are designed to find relationships amongst the information that might lead to a different conclusion about something or a new interpretation. Knowledge Management systems though are information management systems at the same time.

But Please Take a Memo

All the information management systems are designed to take a memo. But some are more flexible than others. However, from all angles there is a bit of overkill going on with a lack of flexibility. Certainly, any of them are designed to take a quick memo. But this is not their specific intent and we are looking for flexibility in this process and these systems lack that kind of flexibility we’re looking for.

Really, when you take a memo or a note you simply need a Notes taking application. You will want to likely get the information from the notes taking application into the Information Management system and I’ll tell you how you’ll do this but first things first.

If you go to the Apple App Store and look for Note taking applications there is a deluge of them. My view is there is nothing really wrong with most of them. However, the one I’ve found to be the best of the bunch is NotesTab Pro. This application is as simple as they come but ever so powerful.

First, it rests in you menu bar so it is available throughout your entire system no matter where you are. Secondly, to create a note is a piece of cake. You can do this by either just pressing the plus key or a hot key. Thirdly and this is the most important you can create as many notes as you want and easily pop in and out of them.

The third item is not so easily done by our information management systems. Many of the Note taking applications will allow you to do this but very few provide all three critical qualities. Very few reside in the menu bar and thus throughout the system. Although they can be called up this is not nearly as effective as a menu bar item which is available no matter what desktop you’re in.

Let me Get Notestab Pro

I’ve tried many simple Note taking applications for just the purpose of quickly being able to write down a note in a very flexible way. Of all the one’s I’ve tried, NotesTab Pro is by far the most effective.

Resting in the menu bar, it is available everywhere. You can write your Notes from a drop down Note window. You can create as many notes as you want and jump from one to the other. You also have a tremendous advantage in that the note window can be separate from the menubar and the note can be positioned anywhere on the screen. You can set it so that the note disappears when you go and work on something else or you can anchor the note so that it is always there. The other major quality the product has going for it is it runs on all your devices; your Mac, iPad and iPhone.

With ubiquity, flexibility and a very pleasant interface to work with Notestab Pro is an excellent memo taking application. However, there is much I write in Notestab Pro and I want that information in my information management system. I have three techniques to get the information to where I want all of which work equally as well.

Getting the Note to One of My Information Management Systems

In effect, I use two information management systems, one of which is the hub. I use Evernote as an information management system and I use DEVONthink as my primary information and Knowledge Management system. For most people I would recommend you use only Evernote for this purpose due to its ease of use and capabilities. However, if you do have a specific application or niche need, such as you’re a researcher or a writer, then I would highly suggest you use DEVONthink, an extremely powerful Knowledge Management system. Although it can be daunting to learn, once you’ve gotten through the learning curve hurdle it will pay off in droves as an Information and Knowledge Management system. I won’t go into detail on that in this article as this is an extensive topic in its own right.

For brevity’s sake, I’m going to discuss three techniques now to get your memo to your system. The first method is simply to use the services menu. The second method is to use Popclip a very cool and valuable utility. The third method, if you have this software available, is to use Launchbar’s instant send function to send information to say either Evernote or DEVONthink.

Thanks for the Memo

With the memo taken and filed away safely not only in both systems you can relax knowing your information is safely housed and can be found easily. With a thank you from the boss it’s now on to that next memo and the round robin begins again.

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