end kvetch

Macs, productivity, &c.

My Revolutionary Not-Too-Exciting Note System

I’m not the kind of person who likes to take notes. This isn’t really the problem that it sounds like because I can member most things without having to refer back to a little scrap of paper.

Much of my note-phobia originates from a) my horrible handwriting and b) the difficulties in trying to come up with a good organizational system for pieces of easily torn notebook paper. My original solution, Levenger’s Circa, solved the second problem (for the most part) but not the first.

Prior to my Circa debut (no, this isn’t my life story, I am getting to the point) I had had one fleeting experience with computerized note-taking. These notes were marvelous, clearly organized and infused with sarcasm. I was in love. Sadly, at the time computerized note-taking was not practical (no, not because it was 1980 and computers were the size of small armories) because I did not yet have a laptop. This all changed in the winter of 2006/2007 when I got a MacBook of my very own. I started off, like most novice note-takers, in MS Word. But as I pointed out in my earlier journaling software review, Word lacks the capability to organize multiple documents. At this point I was using the glorious Schoolhouse 2.0 to organize my assignments (having recently moved on from the not-so-glorious iCal). Schoolhouse contains a fairly rudimentary note-taking system (basically a version of TextEdit which stores documents to the application rather than a file) which I used happily until the end of the year (its probably the reason I did so well in biology1).

It seems like a rather anti-climactic ended, right? Well its not the end. *Dramatic music*

Frankly, for all my praise Schoolhouse isn’t really the best solution for me (although that could all change with the possibility of a third version come-September).

(Sorry, putting this post on hold, there’s a new episode of The Burg)

Anyway, as I was saying, Schoolhouse isn’t really the best assignment tracker for me (I think I’m going to crawl back to iCal) and its certainly not the best note-taking system. This is where Journler (the winner of the first Software Sumo) comes in.

After realizing that lots of numbers and abbreviations make note titles frickin’ awesome2 I came up with a simple little cataloging system to use with the journaling superstar. The system has three components: the subject (a letter abbreviation), the quarter number and the note number. For instance, ENG.1.5 would mean the fifth English note of the first quarter. A title can then be tacked onto the back (making for “ENG.1.5: The Rise of Hemmingway”, which sounds an awful lot like a sci-fi film). Another nice thing about Journler (which I neglected to mention in the review) is its wiki-like linking between entries. So, if I make reference to a concept I can then link back to a full entry pertaining to it, something which I really liked doing in VoodooPad.

So, there you go. If you were able to read that entire thing I commend you and know you know all my note-taking secrets (which you probably didn’t want in the first place).

Footnotes:
1 Not to brag, but I was at near the top of my class.
2 As it were, that’s how I described the liver on my bio final.

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