[EN] Part 4: Your most important Tools - Note taking Application

This week we want to continue the series that continues with the tools you need and learn more about the note program.

But first we should briefly recapitulate which tools we have already mentioned and how you should use them:

  • Calendar

    You can use it to plan your own resources or appointments that you would like to keep with others.

    It can be separated according to private and professional appointments (e.g. by using colors that you assign to your private or professional appointments).

    He has the highest priority in your system. **"What goes on your calender gets done."

  • ToDo-List Manager The ToDo-List Manager is an optional list in which you manage tasks.

    Tasks can be differentiated according to private and professional criteria. For example, using tags (identifiers), tasks can be marked with @PERSONAL or @WORK. Use @NEXT_ACTION to describe the next action in the project.

    With the ToDo-List Manager you can organize routines, goals or tasks, which you can divide according to projects or areas of responsibility (e.g. finances, family, father etc.).

Now let's move on to the next tool in your collection - the notes program.

My clear recommendation, like that for the calendar, is to use it in digital form, as it may well be necessary for you to have access to your data when you are on the move.

In the note program, you store all relevant information that is neither tasks nor appointments. Some of you will now argue that there are programs available on the market that can do everything, scheduling and task planning. That may have a certain charm. But I believe it is more advantageous to separate notes and tasks from each other and to use their explicit strengths. Such "combination programs" can sometimes be very complex in structure and further entertainment. Invest your time with the implementation of your projects and separate the two areas from each other.

So what comes into the notes program now?

  • Projects and project-relevant project information Project documentation, meeting notes, milestone and resource plans

  • Reference material This is information that is not relevant to the project, but that you may need at a later date.

    • Operating instructions (vacuum cleaner, computer)

    • Checklists and templates

    • Recipes for cooking

    • DIY (how to make dough) and handicraft instructions

    • Texts for songs

    • Interesting articles on topics that interest you and that you may want to read later.

    • Contact details and business cards

    • Websites of hotels where you have already been and would like to visit again

  • Important documents that you should have access to in an emergency (only if you want to entrust such sensitive data to your provider)

    • Digital copy of your passport

  • Place where you collect and mature ideas The notes program is the place where ideas can mature in your projects. Brainstorm, reflect on meetings with colleagues and derive important functionalities from them. The resulting next steps and actions are transferred to your ToDo-List Manager.

These are just a few examples of how you can fill such a program with data and information.

What criteria would such an application have to meet?

The most important point for me is that I want to access my information at any time. And it doesn't matter whether I'm at home on a tablet, in the office on a notebook or on the phone on the go. You may want to reduce your digital companions to a minimum during your next holidays so that you can concentrate fully on yourself and your family. At the same time, you do not want to carry around the correspondence and plans you have made for your holiday season in paper form. Via Smartphone you always have this information with you. Addresses of restaurants you might want to visit again could also be stored there.

Let's take your holiday as an example. Surely you have already collected information about your travel domicile in the last weeks and months. Have chosen points to visit or are considering which hotel best suits your needs. Holiday planning is nothing more than a project - and you usually work on it on your computer. You collect addresses for websites, correspondence with your tour operator or you write important articles about the rules of conduct in your holiday destination. The address and telephone number of your embassy in the holiday country may also be helpful. Such searches can be carried out much more conveniently on a notebook or PC. And you don't have to do the work twice - most note applications sync via the cloud and are available on all devices. Among other things, the "Evernote" notes program has an excellent web clipper. This is an extension, which is available for all common browsers, with which they can file with a few clicks, websites, articles and other information in the program.

If you are working with several people, or if you want your customers to see your project data, an application that allows you to quickly share and share content about your projects would be the right choice.

In this day and age, security on the net is a big issue and you should be aware of what you are doing in a cloud-based note program. If you also use the application for professional work, you should consider a method of anonymizing customer names in some form. Most solutions have their server locations in America, which further fuels the discussion about data protection.

I do not store sensitive data, e.g. personal documents, in the notes program, but use a cloud-based memory with which you can determine certain directories that are encrypted.

My note program has been the Evernote program for many years. While it is more expensive than other solutions, it also offers many features and conveniences that you won't find anywhere else.

My reasons why I chose Evernote:

  • It's been on the market a long time The "top dog" among the note programs will certainly not be taken over so quickly by one of the big corporations (Google, Microsoft etc.) (even if Evernote is currently going through a re-organization). Larger companies usually offer their own solutions, but small and innovative companies are constantly being bought up and their innovations implemented in their own solutions. Therefore, it is better to rely on a company that already has experience in this sector.

  • storage of notes As in your computer directory itself, you can create orders for notes. This is where you store your information. Unlike many other applications, Evernote allows only one main layer and one sublayer. And not subdirectory in subdirectory in subdirectory.

    The main level is called the notebook stack. The notebooks themselves are inside a stack. In the notebooks again, you organize your actual notes. Imagine it this way (if we start from real books): You have a bunch of books that deal exclusively with history. These include numerous books on German history, world history, etc. The books contain the relevant data.

    For example, a variant could be with you (let's stay with the holidays):

    • Holidays** (= notebook stack)

      • 2018: La Gomera (= notebook)

        • Travel information (=Note)

        • Contact information (=Note)

        • Places to visit (=Note)

    Many of you who have already thought about a note program might say that limiting it to a maximum of one sub-level is bad and not very flexible. At the same time you will be trained to build up your system according to the motto "as much as necessary, as little as possible".

  • Tagging Sometimes also referred to as "keywording", notes can be provided with tags, i.e. identifiers. In contrast to the notebook stacks mentioned above, hierarchies of tag structures can be larger than one level.

    We will certainly deal with the marking of notes elsewhere and each of us has a different way of searching for his content, so that there is no uniform procedure for "keywords".

  • Search Evernote's ability to store your notes in a directory structure and add tags to them makes searching for notes in Evernote exceptional. It is very fast and reliable. Frequently used searches can be saved and added to your favorites.

    Even documents that are even stored as PDF in a note can be examined (but a paid version of Evernote is required for this).

  • Forwarding of e-mails Evernote provides the functionality that allows you to forward emails to your Evernote account.

For starters, I recommend that you use the note program that comes with your operating system. This gives them a relatively quick sense of what it can do, or how comfortably notes can be organized and created. And how it ultimately harmonizes with your work methodology.

Apple ships its operating system with "Apple Notes". Microsoft calls its application "One Note" and Google "Keep".

Countless other suppliers on the market also offer very innovative solutions.

I will write a short summary of the most beautiful programs on the market in one of the next articles.

We now know what a note application is and what information is stored in it. It is also very likely that there is already a cost-neutral version on your computer.

Finally, we will briefly look at the structure (independent of my excursion to Evernote) with which you could set up your system for the beginning. It is relatively simple, yet effective, and basically adheres to the structure of your existing tools that you already know and have installed.


    • This is where all the notes that you then assign to your existing notes end up.


    • Here you store all private notes

  • WORK

    • Here you store all your professional notes


    • Here you store notes that cannot currently be assigned to any of your topics, but which you may want to keep for later. These could be vouchers, coupons, events in the future, etc.

For the start, we limit the structure to the concept described above. Your brain probably "thinks" more in projects than in "areas of responsibility". Therefore, the next level would be the project name (or client name).

  • WORK

    • Client A.

    • Client B.

      • Project 1

      • Project 2

The same applies to your private notes


    • 2019 Tax

    • 2019 holidays

      • summer holidays

      • autumn holidays

In the next few articles, we will deal again and again with the note application, which illuminates approaches to searching for information and "reviews" programs in the market.