Note Taking

I must confess that during my years in High School and later in College, I did not take notes. I am a listener, I would go to class and listen. There were plenty of people who took notes, and some were my study buddies. Their notes would refresh my memories and together we could really understand the lectures. Now, 15 years after my college days, I am a note taker.

IMG_2894I wanted to explore how I transitioned from not taking any notes, to a place where I find pleasure in taking notes. I can’t remember the exact date, but do remember the job. I was a manager for a company that published Market Studies for the Pharmaceutical Industry, and every client I met used a notebook, either an agenda or a moleskin notebook. I also mas managing multiple projects and making commitments to different parties; I couldn’t keep everything in my head.

My first attempt was to use a digital organizer. I signed up with Evernote to write my tasks and notes. I liked the perpetuity of my notes on Evernote, and being able to search for emails or documents; but the complete solution was not Evernote.

I saw my assistant using an inexpensive notebook as a work journal and thought that something like that could help me. I made several attempts to find what I liked until I got in a good rhythm, and from there I have a notebook.

This week I was reading an article on taking notes, and saw these amazing notebooks from a soccer commentator. (Full Article)

I am not as organized or as artistic as this commentator, but I do like to keep things organized. I carry 1 notebook that holds goals for the week, tasks for the day, and commitments or things I want to follow up on. I also carry with me a legal pad with a line across the center to make it 2 columns (2 columns make for more tidy notes), and a small pad as scratch paper. Every Friday before the end of the day I move the things that are not yet completed to the next week. Every Monday morning I plan for the week, blocking times in my Outlook calendar for specific work and putting tasks to a particular day on the week as a to-do. Every day I write my to-do for that day.

I still use Evernote a lot, and I will spend a whole post on how I use Evernote. Every week I take a picture of all my notes for the week and add it to a note on Evernote title Week Of XX along with any other paper notes I took.

I would love to know who else still take notes on paper and your overall process.

*headline image courtesy of unsplash and Tim Gouw

My Tech Tool belt – MBA Edition – Part 1

So now that I’m an MBA student my tech tool belt changed. So what do I use:

Evernote: This is what you would call your long term memory and is especially great at note taking. Taking notes now is a lot different than when I did my Undergrad.  You will need to link to power point presentation, PDFs, other documents, etc.  Evernote is a great application that can be accessed anywhere from multiple devises. Get it here: Check out all the features here:  I suggest you read their blog and other use cases so that you get ideas as to how to use it.  My system consists of 1 Notebook per class, grouped together under a Semester heading.  I add 1 note per lecture and I also add my homework and PDF per reading session.  Also make sure you make a notebook for all internship opportunities you find online, and move them from pending application to applied.  Also make a note with a text only version of your resume pasted on it for easy access as well as a note with all your S.T.A.R. Stories so that you can have them top of mind as you wait to go into an interview.

Evernote Web Clipper & Clearly:  You will do most of your research online and you need a tool to help you out.  I like Evernote’s web clipper, mainly because it will be saved to your evernote account.  I just tag each clip with #research.  The other thing I like to use is Clearly which is also an addon to your browser.  Here is a comparison:

You can get these great addons here:  and here:

Dropbox:  This application is my resent memory for all I do.  Is a cloud storage solution and has great collaboration functions.  It has gotten some heat for not being extremely secure, but for school work is good enough and will make you very efficient.  How to use it, make a folder in your computer with the name of the semester, and a sub-folder for each class.  Add the folder to your dropbox account (I use this plugin to do this quickly: and now anytime you want access to a file you can get it from your computer or from the web, including your phone.

Now for collaboration.  You can have a team folder and all will be able to access all the files from that folder.  No more sending large files to and from emails.  One thing Dropbox is not very good a it and that is working on the same file, when you save it creates one file for each version of the opened file.  Now if you keep updating it, it does create a version history (the free account keeps the versions for 30 days).

You can get the some extra space if you download from here: after you register and download the app make sure you take a look at other ways you can increase you storage.

Remember the Milk: If you need more than a nudge to get things done consider Remember the Milk.  This website/app has everything you need to manage your tasks.  I especially like the hooks to google calendar, ipad app, and text messages.  You can sign up for it here: One of the best things are lists based on search terms, so you can have one that says “Readings for Today” and another one for “Readings for Tomorrow”.  Also have one that says “HW due this week.”

Crashplan:  The last bit I want to cover on this post is a good backup solution.  There are a few options for free that range from limited time to limited space.  Crashplan’s free option is to backup to an external drive or computer.  Don’t be that guy that loses all his files the day before they are due.  Leave your drive at home and you should have enough backup protection.  Remember the backup rule:

  • 3 copies of everything
  • 2 types of media
  • 1 is of site

With the previous solutions you should have data in Evernote, dropbox, crashplan and your PC.  You are using Hard Drive (PC and Crashplan) and Internet (Evernote and Dropbox).  You always have 1 copy away from your physical location.  So sign up here:

Stay tuned, next I’ll add more technology to your tool belt including: All things Google, All Things MS Office, PDFs, and later I’ll take a dive into Skype, Prezy, GIMP and Inkscape.