Note-Taking App Super Review: Introduction

I’ve been looking for the perfect note-taking app since Evernote started going downhill almost a decade ago. I remember Evernote (potentially through nostalgic eyes) being fast, efficient, and easy to use. At some point the app started being buggy, having sync issues, and becoming more inconsistent. The iOS app was different from the Android app, which was different from the Windows app, which was different from the Mac app. Features were inconsistent or didn’t outright work on one platform while working on the others. That was enough to make me look for another note-taking app.

The search continues… While I don’t believe I’ve found the perfect note-taking app, somewhere along the way I’ve learned that, more important than a good note-taking app, the way I structure my notes is paramount to increased productivity. This is something I’m still learning: having experimented with the Zettelkasten and PARA methods, the idea of atomic notes, and structuring my thoughts and data in a way that is easily transferrable across devices and services.

One of the things that has come out of this search is a love for the Markdown document format. Its text-based foundation and simple syntax makes for a file that can stand the test of time and that almost any document editor can read. Thanks to Markdown, I can easily copy a note from Notion to my WordPress site. It’s great.

With all these different paths to go down, note taking methods to use, and document formats to embrace, I think I’ve finally come to know, at the least, what I am looking for in a note-taking app.

Note-taking Workflow

Let’s first start off with my workflow. It’s constantly shifting, especially when I discover other tools and apps that offer unique features that can potentially enhance data retrieval. Typically, however, I want my note-taking app to be flexible. It should be able to view data in different ways, and allow me to throw anything into it and at it.

When it comes to data, I love referencing websites. Sometimes I’ll stick a YouTube video in a note. I’ll quote a book. Sometimes I’ll sketch something out. Ideally, I can have these things all in one place, easily editable, and non-destructive.

However, I also value simplicity in my notes. My notes are laid out from top-to-bottom; an infinite canvas in every direction is a bit much. I only need basic formatting. And I want my notes to live in a place that makes sense.

When it comes to workflow, I aim to be as simple as possible. Otherwise I will get bogged down in the process and lose focus.

Note-taking Structure

In terms of structure, my notes are pieces of thought. Other thoughts can be connected together with a link, and thoughts should be complete and organized.

When it comes to finding a thought, the app I’m using (or even the system folder structure) should support excellent search. I love search; it helps me work faster. With search, I can be a little more loose in terms of tagging or linking; ideally, using the same keywords without any extra formatting should give a fuzzy view of how notes are connected.

If everything else fails and search is broken, the simplest and most basic level of organizing should help me find my notes in a folder or container that makes sense. I like the idea of silos: a silo for meetings, a silo for projects, a silo for that free online class I’m taking. The simplest form of this is a hierarchical folder format. However, some sort of system that can allow files to span silos would be excellent.

That’s the structure. Oh, and one more important thing to say about notes: I do not use them for task management. Notes contain information, tasks contain dates about when to act on information. I might list down action items in a meeting note, but I would then move those to Things or my calendar and schedule them. Tasks are different types of data that should have their own specific UI that allows users to surface dates and information in date-based views that make sense.

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One response to “Note-Taking App Super Review: Introduction”

  1. leeriah Avatar

    Or is it a cover for you making your own? 👀

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