A Practical Guide to The First 30 Days Using a Notes App

Estimated read time 6 min read

Welcome to the journey of optimizing your note-taking abilities with a notes app! Committing to your chosen platform for the next 30 days is key to success. Remember, it’s better to make progress with the wrong app for a month than to switch too soon and make no progress at all.

Step 1: Identify Your Most Important Inputs

Start by recognizing the primary sources of information in your life. Common inputs include email, social media, podcasts, videos, eBooks, paper books, conversations, articles, chat messages, PDFs, newsletters, and personal thoughts. Let’s look at examples:

  • Email: Work-related emails, newsletters, and important correspondences.
  • Social Media: Updates from professional networks, industry news, and trends.
  • Podcasts: Educational podcasts that enhance your knowledge.
  • Videos: Tutorial videos, industry-related content, or motivational talks.
  • Ebooks and Paper Books: Materials related to your profession or personal development.
  • Conversations: Insights gained from discussions with colleagues or friends.
  • Articles: Online articles on relevant topics.
  • Chat Messages: Instant messages with work-related information.
  • PDFs: Reports, research papers, or documentation.
  • Newsletters: Subscriptions with valuable industry insights.
  • Thoughts: Ideas that pop up during your daily routine.

In your notes app, create a new note titled “My Most Important Inputs” and list these inputs. Rate each one by value (high, medium, or low) and volume (high, medium, or low).

Example:

  • Email: High value, high volume
  • Social Media: Medium value, high volume
  • Podcasts: High value, low volume

Insight: Prioritize capturing high-value, high-volume inputs to maximize your efficiency.

Step 2: Quick Capture

Create a new note in your notes app called “Quick Capture.” Here’s how to apply this technique:

  • Imagine you’re in a meeting, and a colleague shares a valuable insight. Instead of immediately acting on it, open your Notes app and jot it down in “Quick Capture.”
  • Don’t react immediately if you receive an important email; write it down in “Quick Capture.”
  • When you find an interesting article but don’t have time to read it, save it in “Quick Capture.”

Insight: This technique allows you to capture valuable information in the moment without disrupting your flow.

Step 3: Reframe Your Inputs

At the end of each day, review your “Quick Capture” note and categorize the information into six main categories:

  1. Tasks: Actions to do in the future.
  2. Read or Watch Later: Items of interest for later consumption.
  3. Projects: Large, goal-oriented endeavors.
  4. Areas: Non-deadline-driven aspects of your life.
  5. Resources: References related to your interests.
  6. Archives: Items not currently relevant to your goals.

Example:

  • Tasks: Respond to the important email from the meeting.
  • Read or Watch Later: Save the interesting article for later.
  • Projects: Start planning the upcoming project presentation.
  • Areas: Focus on improving time management.
  • Resources: Save the PDF research paper for future reference.
  • Archives: Store the meeting notes for future reference.

Insight: This categorization helps you manage your notes efficiently and ensures that actionable tasks are separated from other notes.

Step 4: Begin a Daily Practice

Follow these daily practices to make the most of your notes app:

  1. Capture notes daily when something resonates with you.
  2. Start each day by reviewing your task list.
  3. Regularly sort your “Quick Capture” notes into the appropriate categories.
  4. Once a week, move completed projects to the archives and add new tasks to your list.

Example:

  • Monday: Review the task list and prioritize the email response.
  • Tuesday: Sort captured articles into “Read or Watch Later.”
  • Wednesday: Continue planning the project presentation.
  • Sunday: Move completed tasks to the archives and plan tasks for the upcoming week.

Insight: Consistently following this practice will lead to a transformed sense of control and productivity within 30 days.

Here’s a list of note-taking apps that you can use to implement the guidelines, along with highlighted features for each app:

  1. Evernote:
    • Features:
      • Rich text editing with formatting options.
      • Notebook organization and tagging for categorization.
      • Web clipper for saving articles and web pages.
      • Cross-platform availability (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android).
      • Integration with task management apps.
      • Document scanning and OCR (Optical Character Recognition).
      • Offline access to notes.
  2. OneNote:
    • Features:
      • Notebook-based structure with sections and pages.
      • Support for text, images, drawings, and handwriting.
      • Collaboration and real-time editing with others.
      • Integration with Microsoft Office apps.
      • Cross-platform compatibility (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android).
      • Notebook sharing and syncing through OneDrive.
      • Digital ink support for stylus users.
  3. Notion:
    • Features:
      • Flexible, database-like structure with pages, databases, and blocks.
      • Rich media embedding (videos, images, links).
      • Task and project management capabilities.
      • Collaborative workspace with team members.
      • Cross-platform availability (Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android).
      • Customizable templates for various use cases.
      • API for custom integrations.
  4. Google Keep:
    • Features:
      • Simple and user-friendly interface.
      • Color-coded notes and labels for organization.
      • Location-based reminders.
      • Integration with Google Drive and Google Workspace.
      • Cross-platform (Web, iOS, Android) with real-time syncing.
      • Collaborative note creation and editing.
      • Voice recording and transcription.
  5. Bear:
    • Features:
      • Markdown support for clean and readable formatting.
      • Tagging and nested tagging for organization.
      • Focus mode to enhance writing concentration.
      • Cross-device syncing via iCloud (macOS, iOS).
      • Advanced search and note linking.
      • Export notes in various formats, including PDF and Word.
      • Themes and typography customization.
  6. Simplenote:
    • Features:
      • Minimalist, distraction-free note-taking.
      • Instant syncing across devices.
      • Tagging for note organization.
      • Version history to track changes and revisions.
      • Cross-platform availability (Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android).
      • Collaborative editing for shared notes.
      • Markdown support for basic formatting.
  7. Trello:
    • Features:
      • Kanban board-style task management.
      • Lists, cards, and boards for project organization.
      • Integration with third-party apps and services.
      • Collaboration with team members and assigning tasks.
      • Due dates, checklists, and attachments on cards.
      • Cross-platform (Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android).
      • Workflow automation with Power-Ups.
  8. Apple Notes :(Pre-installed on Apple devices, no specific URL
    • Features:
      • Seamless integration with Apple ecosystem (iOS, macOS).
      • Rich text formatting, drawing, and handwriting support.
      • Folders and subfolders for note organization.
      • Scanning and document markup.
      • Collaboration with iCloud sharing.
      • Password protection for individual notes.
      • Cross-device syncing via iCloud.
  9. Zoho Notebook:
    • Features:
      • Card-based, visual note-taking interface.
      • Support for text, images, audio, and sketches.
      • Notebook organization with customizable covers.
      • Cross-platform (Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android).
      • Password-protected notes and app lock.
      • Workspaces for collaboration.
      • Web clipper for saving online content.
  10. Joplin:
    • Features:
      • Open-source and privacy-focused.
      • Markdown support with WYSIWYG editor.
      • End-to-end encryption for secure note storage.
      • Cross-platform (Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android).
      • Synchronization via various services (e.g., Dropbox, Nextcloud).
      • To-do lists and task management.
      • Extensible with plugins and add-ons.

These note-taking apps offer a range of features and cater to different preferences and needs. Depending on your specific requirements, you can choose the one that aligns best with your note-taking and productivity goals.

Conclusion:

By applying these techniques to your notes app, you’ll empower yourself to better manage information, tasks, and projects. Feel free to share your experiences and questions as you embark on this journey. Together, we’ll enhance your organization and productivity.

Best of luck in your note-taking adventure!

Kudos to Tiago Forte, the maestro of personal knowledge management and productivity! 🎩🌟 Your insights on building a ‘Second Brain’ have been a guiding light in our digital journey at Green Belly. Your YouTube channel is a treasure trove of wisdom, seamlessly weaving innovation with practicality. Your passion for transforming ideas into realities resonates with us, and we’re grateful for the impact on our tech landscape. Here’s to the maestro, orchestrating brilliance in the realm of digital minds! 🚀💻


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