I have spent some time figuring out how to improve my note-taking workflow, and thought I’d share my experiences with you all. Feed-back would be very welcome.
My problem came from the fact that I have a lot of “pre-project notes”. Notes that I take on interesting books or films or experiences that may come in handy for academic work later, but which are at a stage where it’s too early to decide exactly what I am doing with them. (So my note-taking needs are mostly academic and research related.)
I love taking notes by hand, away from my computer, and always have a paper notebook and a fountain pen with me. But if I am serious about my notes, at some point I have to go over them, and transfer the essential points from paper to computer. I also, of course, sometimes take notes directly on the computer. Right now I have a whole stack of handwritten notes I need to go through.
The problem is that I don’t actually know what I’ll use them all for (yet). I find that putting them in Devonthink directly means that they often drown among all the other data I have there. (I find that I can’t tag or group such notes appropriately because they are still at a pre-project stage.) And while Tinderbox is great for thinking, it is not a good place for just keeping inchoate notes. Scrivener is absolutely essential when it comes to drafting papers, but it is not suited to be just a ragbag repository of notes before one gets to the writing stage.
In short, what I need is a place that can be a kind of pre-project repository of notes. Which means that the application has to be able to export notes easily to my three other favorite applications. Enter Macjournal. The export functions are phenomenal, and very easy to use. It is easy to transfer whole folders of notes right into Devonthink and Scrivener (as rtf). It is just as easy to export them as txt, and then simply drag them into Tinderbox. Of course Devonthink can also index Macjournal notes, if one prefers. Macjournal also coexists beautifully with Simpletext and Notational Velocity, which are my preferred note-taking apps on the road. For once, I feel that I have solved a problem which has been nagging me for a long time.
Any comments? Further suggestions? Potential difficulties that I should be aware of?