My Workflow

Recently I have been reviewing my workflow for both work and personal tasks.

A couple of years ago I tried the digital-only approach, which worked pretty well - for a time. I made notes on my ipad using Bamboo Paper and a stylus. Great, notes could be really temporary, erased and written over. However, this entailed a lot of zooming in & out on the page and really just didn't feel quite right to me. I stuck with it, though.

In addition to taking notes, I used Notability to annotate documents and make typed drafts/notes. I still use Notability, but not as extensively as I used to. I think it's a very capable app, but unfortunately it's not cross-platform, so restricts me to the iPad.

For general to-do lists and basic projects I used ToDoist. When it came out, it really impressed me, so I paid for a premium subscription, which got me labels, reminders and emailing tasks. Without a reminder option, a task app isn't a great deal of use.

To store stuff online I used Evernote. I also used Evernote to draft, and then publish, my blog posts, until something changed and Evernote proved to be more of an annoyance than a help. I paid for an Evernote subscription, too, having had a free trial for a while. I didn't need a lot of the features, but I liked the passcode lock on mobile devices, which was only available on a paid plan at the time.

Time passes… and my approach has altered. I think I was just never entirely comfortable being digital-only. Quite possibly this is as much an age thing as just a me thing. I tried out the Traveler's Notebook and it clicked with me. I was never an ardent Filofax user, even though I had several over the years. I never had an A5 one and it was while I was contemplating one of those that I came across the Traveler's Notebook. I fell in love with the flexibility of the system and my workflow reverted to a paper-based one. I have always found that I remember things better when I write them down. I found some online printable TN inserts that really worked for me, for my task lists and monthly planning. I also created my own week on one page calendar, printed it out and bound it into a booklet, which meant I had most things in one place.

I have been an Office 365 subscriber for a number of years and have seen the Onenote product improve significantly, so I started to use it, to see how it compared with Evernote. Generally, I prefer it, although I refuse to install Outlook just to use reminders. I didn't make much use of them in Evernote, but the approach to them in Onenote is annoying. I also found that the ToDoist reminders were a little unreliable and, to be honest, I never really liked their allegedly intuitive system. Nothing wrong with a calendar and repeat options, in my book.

Recently, Evernote announced a new pricing structure which represented a significant increase to me. I considered dropping down a tier, or going free, but the new device limit is unacceptable to me, removing the flexibility of the whole system. I use both Android, iOS and Windows, so these changes made Evernote an expensive option. Plus, it's still horribly green everywhere (not even a nice green). The upshot is that I will be ditching Evernote completely and going all-in on Onenote. It's still not quite as good as Evernote, but it's good enough and doesn't cost me extra. I am in the process of exporting all my notes and cross-checking for duplicates. Evernote won't be renewed, and the mobile apps will be deleted, although I may keep the desktop version for a while longer.

I will still use Notability and also iThoughts, where they are the best tools for the job.

After I found out about the Evernote situation it then turned out that the annual ToDoist subscription was going up £3. Not exactly unaffordable, but necessary? No. I was using the app less and less, thanks to my return to analogue. So that dropped to free, losing me labels, tasks by email, and reminders. In reality the only issue was the loss of reminders/alerts. I used the iOS Reminders app, but that necessitated my being in the vicinity of the iPad, which isn't always the case. Today I have reinstalled Google Keep on my phone, and downloaded the iOS app. I'll see how it goes, but hopefully it will be sufficient for my needs. If not, then a calendar appointment might work. More detailed/reference tasks are kept in my 10 Centuries account.

In summary, I have reverted to an analogue process, now in a new TN-style notebook from Tough-old-boots, backed up by a Leuchtturm A5 notebook for work projects, which is housed in my Roterfaden Taschenbeglieter. I have not renewed ToDoist (£21.99 saved) and I won't be paying for Evernote when that comes up for renewal (£44.99 saved). These are being replaced by paper + Google Keep and Onenote. The bonus is that I get to write things by hand more, using my beloved fountain pens.