A Note about Notes

Notes are the center of a nerd's life. They're a repository for knowledge and possibly for work. They're a personal library more important to its owner than the Library of Alexandria was to the world.

Notes distill what you believe.

Notes can determine your future projects.

Notes can give you direction when your brain fails you.

Notes are a big deal.

Some people I know have a few dozen large notes, others have tens of thousands of tiny notes. I have around 3000 now of all sizes and kinds.

Every nerdy note taker has their own philosophy and system for taking notes. I won't bore you with mine, but I do want to share a basic principle of note taking that is often ignored in even the nerdiest of circles.

Concentrate on streamlining input, not output.

What takes more time out of your life when it comes to notes, input or output? The vast majority of our note taking time is involved in input: typing or handwriting the notes, taking photos, drawing, saving data and devising where these notes fit in an organizational structure.

Output, which is retrieving a note through search, folders or tags, takes a much smaller amount of time out of lives.

Both are important, but when I strategize about how to waste less time in my life, I concentrate on the biggest culprit: input.

I bring all this up because my Evernote subscription is up today. Many of my nerdy friends hate Evernote (mostly because it's ugly and unwieldy - especially on mobile devices) and won't renew this year. I have my issues with it as well, but it's the only tool available that concentrates so intensely on streamlining the input of notes. I'm re-upping until some other company, or maybe Evernote, embraces this principle and combines it with good design.