Keeping track of everything is easy, if you note how. (See what I did there?)
Collect All the Things in Your Note
Put everything about a project in its working note. You can type bullet lists by starting a line with a dash or an asterisk. Create an outline by indenting bullet lists.
Add tasks related to a project, and add a checkbox so you can check them off when they’re done.
Sketch ideas directly into the note when you’re brainstorming by tapping the little magic-marker icon.
You can even sketch ideas on a napkin (it’s always a napkin—why haven’t any of these genius inventors ever heard of a notebook?) and scan them. The circle-plus tool gives a menu to insert photos, and scan documents, as described in episode 470: How Scanning Apps can Organize Your Life.
My Working Notes on Video Production
I’m creating productivity tools videos for my Get-it-Done Groups. My WORKING Tools videos note has notes on all the possible tools, grouped by category: procrastination tools, calendar tools, task-list tools, and so on. When brainstorming a lesson, I unironically grab a napkin, sketch out a storyboard, and scan the storyboard straight into the note. When it’s time to choose a tool and produce the video, everything I need is in a single note.
Synchronize the Name with Your Other Working Folders
If you use a project folder to organize files on your desktop—as described in episode 346: How a Short Term Memory Folder Can Help Your Workflow—give your WORKING note the same name as that project’s folder on your desktop. That way you know that every folder named PLF refers to the People’s Liberation Front, and everywhere you deal with the People’s Liberation Front, it will be called PLF.
Next time someone gives you a great idea, you can jot it right down, look them straight in the eye, and say, "Noted."
Some Projects Are Too Awesome for Just One Note
If your project outgrows a single note, create a notes folder called WORKING PLF. Then inside that folder, you can could create one note called Liberation Ideas and another called Egg-sharing Manifesto.
I prefer one note per project. It’s easier to scroll through and see everything. Separate notes means more time fiddling with navigation.
When You Move Stuff, Say Where You Moved It
Sometimes you’ll migrate a project elsewhere. I was outlining a presentation in my WORKING note. When it was time to create the presentation in Keynote, I moved the outline from notes into Keynote. In the note, I typed "(Moved to Keynote)." The next time scanning the note, it’s a reminder of where the most current version lives.
Plumbing the Depths
Melvin has the answer: Deftly create a note entitled WORKING Boiler Replacement, and then next time the plumber sends pictures of fittings, in they go. The shopping list of office chairs to check out? Those become a list of checkboxes. And the notes about shelving bracket sizes are freeform text. At the hardware store, he just pulls up the note, scrolls through it, and all the information related to the boiler trip is at his fingertips.
Use your smartphone notes program for keeping everything about a project in one place: a note with pictures, checklists, freeform information, and ideas. Name your notes consistently, and expand into a folder of notes if needed. When you move them to your desktop, put a reminder in your smartphone telling you where you moved them. Next time someone gives you a great idea, you can jot it right down, look them straight in the eye, and say, "Noted."
I’m Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. If you have projects that are stalled or taking too long, check out my “Get-it-Done Groups” accountability groups. Learn more at http://SteverRobbins.com.