My Digital Age

I wrote a post on New Year’s Eve about my wrestling match with life, and goals for the new year. Here we are, six weeks in, and I’m still wrestling. But I am trying to make some small changes, and thought I’d share my recent experiment.

Like many of you, I wear many hats in my life. I spend about a third of my time in meetings, and had bought a great notebook from Staples that had easily removable pages. But work notes ended up at home, writing notes ended up everywhere, and I could never find that email address I had scribbled somewhere. Plus, my brain does not work in buckets. One idea feeds another–work and writing blend to a degree. Occasionally someone I meet through Sisters in Crime ends up being a theater contact. I have colored tabs, highlighters, and other ways of coding my notes, but they didn’t work, especially at the volume I produce notes/thoughts/ideas.

Additionally, I am teaching this semester, and have 30 students in my class. I knew two, maybe three students, and have a goal to know everyone by name before mid semester. There aren’t enough post its in the world to help me with that.

And finally, I keep reading blog posts, articles, and reports that I want to remember, but short of printing them all out (which I have done, and then left in a leaning tower for a months before recycling) how do I sort them all? And, again, have them available where ever I am?

At the end of January I read Beth Kanter’s blog post about how she takes notes. (She writes a great blog–highly recommended.) She pointed to an ebook about using Evernote, which I downloaded. And read. And implemented. I committed to using Evernote for three weeks. It has been ten days so far. Here’s my progress report:

  • The ebook helped me figure out how to jump in and start using the program. I downloaded it on my phone, work and home computers, and on my Motorola Xoom. I also installed the clip function. I set up notebooks, and stacks. And figured out some tags. I played for a bit on the Sunday night before I test drove it at work.
  • I brought my Xoom with me to work on Monday, and to class. On day one, my students did presentations. I took photos of each one, and labeled them with their names and took notes on the presentation. BOOM. I have my own face book. 
  • The next day I had a board meeting. I took notes, and filed them under “board”. But I also tagged the notes with “conference” and “fundraising” so I could find them later.
  • I also had a New England Crime Bake committee meeting. More notes, with some crossover to Sisters in Crime and a “to do” item for my list.
  • Throughout the week I have been “clipping” blog posts, articles, and a couple of reports. And been able to find them all.

This isn’t rote yet. I went into a meeting this afternoon, and grabbed a yellow pad. Argh. But so far the experiment is going well. Not only is Evernote helping me keep all my notes in one place, it is also helping me find them easily. I am also trying to use it for jotting down blogging ideas, but that is less successful so far. I am learning more as I use it, but the ebook helped. And the system thinks like I do. Which is a little scary.

But it works.

***********

J.A. Hennrikus is the Executive Director of StageSource. She is a mystery writer. Her short story, “Tag, You’re Dead” was published in Level Best Book’s anthology THIN ICE. “Her Wish” is in Level Best Books’ DEAD CALM. And “The Pendulum Swings, Until It Doesn’t” was published in BLOOD MOON in November 2012.She is a social media fan, and tweets under @JulieHennrikus. She wrestles with allusions of athleticism, is an avid theater goer and a member of Red Sox nation. Her website is jahennrikus.com

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