Far beyond simply jotting down your daily to-do list, a flexible note-taking app can be a powerful business tool.
When most people think about “notes” apps they think about that basic app on your smartphone, which lets you jot down something you want to remember, or perhaps throw together a quick shopping list. They’re the digital equivalent of the notepad and pen you might keep next to your desk phone to scribble down quick messages.
It’s certainly handy to have these basic notes apps at your disposal, but a great note-taking app offers so much more. Evernote and Microsoft’s OneNote are two of the best examples – along with typing notes you can also add images, drawings, photos, voice recordings, video clips, documents and even handwritten notes and annotations.
Some apps also let you keep your typed or handwritten notes in sync with an audio recording. Seamlessly combining all of these options could revolutionise the way you take notes in business meetings.
To help you stay organised, you can create multiple notebooks for different projects, as well as categorise and tag your notes for easy searching. You can even search through the text in images thanks to optical character recognition.
Another advantage of serious note-taking apps is that they sync your notes with the cloud and your other devices. This way you’ve always got your important notes at your fingertips, plus you’ve got a backup should one of your devices come to grief or your paper notes go astray.
If you’re struggling to manage your folders full of paper notes from different projects, clients and meetings then it might be time to go digital and embrace a note-taking app. It’s easy to get excited about the productivity boost that a note-taking app could bring to your disorganised work life, but look before you leap.
Think carefully about exactly what you need from a note-taking app and how it might make your life easier. Think about specific usage scenarios, including exactly where and when you’d want to use it (app features might vary between devices). Once you have a solid list of requirements and usage scenarios it will be easier to narrow down your options to find the best note-taking app and ecosystem for your needs.
Before you store important business information in a note-taking app, consider cross-platform support and how it can integrate with other software and services such as your email, contacts, calendar, reminders and Office suite. Also investigate options for backing up your notes, as well as ways to export your data if you decide to switch to a competitor. The last thing you want is your note-taking app holding your business data to ransom.
Dip your toe in first before taking the plunge. Run a trial with one project to see whether your note-taking app meets your expectations. Over time you might find that you use the app in different ways than you anticipated, which could reshape your requirements and usage scenarios.
As you go, make sure you take plenty of notes about your new note-taking app, so you can look back through them to help decide on the best app to meet your business needs.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.