Make the Most of the 'Notes' App on Your Phone

Keeping track of everything is easy, if you note how. (See what I did there?)

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #507

Melvin, who serves as office manager for the Green Growing Things plant store, has been upgrading the boiler, so workers can take hot showers without going home. He got the idea from Google, and thought it sounded like a great way to manipulate employees into being indentured servants while thinking they’re just getting massive, awesome job benefits.

Today’s the big day! The plumber is replacing the boiler! He sent Melvin out for supplies at the hardware store. The plumber snapped pictures of the fitting to buy and texted them to Melvin. Melvin’s "office furnishings" reminder popped up a few days ago reminding him that we’ll need a new chair for the basement office once the boiler is in. And the shelving person sent notes about shelving bracket sizes to mount shelves above the boiler. And all this information is safe and secure in Melvin’s handy dandy little smartphone!

We Get Disorganized

Until he arrives at the store. There was...stuff...he needed to do, right? Wasn’t there a reminder? And something in an email? Or was that a photo album? Technology was supposed to make Melvin’s life easier. But it hasn’t.

Twenty years ago, you needed a 10'x10' cubicle to get this disorganized. Now, you can be completely disorganized with a device the size of a deck of playing cards. We call that "progress."

Your Notes Will Save You

Fortunately, you can pick up where they left off! Just use your Notes app to organize short-term information, outlines, and resources for whatever you’re working on at the moment. You can have one known place on your smartphone with everything related to a given project.

Use One Note Per Project

Create a notes folder called Current. Create one note for every project you’re working on. For example, if you’ve founded the People’s Liberation Front of Judea, you would create a note titled WORKING PLF. Put the word WORKING in all caps at the front of each note title. That way, when you search for PLF, you can distinguish the note with your working information from the note with the draft of the PLF Communal Egg-Sharing Manifesto. Don’t mix those up! If you do, the yolk’s on you. (God, I just love my sense of humor sometimes.)

Put Everything in the Note

Your working note is where you put the electronic equivalent of sticky notes related to the project that don’t go anywhere else. You walk past the local library and have an idea: the PLF can sneak in and liberate all the books on living a gluten-free lifestyle. So you just type that idea right into the note. Later, you can review your notes and can decide if it’s even possible to liberate a book from an open-access public lending library.

The purpose of your WORKING note is to be a catch-all for your thoughts. So when your sibling suggests that you can mount a hacking expedition to take over Wikipedia and liberate all the web pages into the public domain, you can type that in too.

Group Related Ideas

The Notes app supports bullet points and header fonts, so you can cut and past and group related ideas.

In this case, you group the library and Wikipedia and add a heading: Possible Liberation Initiatives. Then when you decide, predictably, that you might want to liberate the dresser that someone left on the curb with the sign that says "Take me," you can add that as a third bullet point.

Since notes are free-form, you can also capture issues the movement needs to grapple with. Perhaps an item saying,“early successes are good for morale, but are we setting our sights too low by only liberating things that are already free?”

Just think, if you didn’t have a place to collect all your ideas in one place, you might have forgotten to ask that question.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.