I don’t know about you, but over the course of a day, I read, listen to, and watch a lot of “stuff” that helps make me think. Add that up over the course of a day, week, month, or years and you have accumulated a great deal of knowledge.
I think most of us are that way.
Beyond the main ideas and a few facts, how much do we end up remembering or being able to use in our writing or life?
If you are like me, not as much as I would like.
The issue is how do we remember all the stuff I read or where to find it again?
Most of the time we end up using a search engine to find it again, rooting around in our notes (if we kept any), or worse relying on our wonderful memories. Each method has a high frustration factor and all too often we give up without finding what we were looking for.
Why A Note-Taking System
Over the past six months or so, I have been working on improving my writing skills.
One thing I have found is that most writers have is a note-taking system. Something that captures what they read, watch or listen to. Along with all those ideas and anything else that comes into their minds.
Something that works for how they work and think.
Think of all the great ideas that we have while out walking the dog, going for a run, or at other times when we really are not thinking about writing and have that “aha moment or that this would be perfect as part of…
All those great ideas that happen in odd places and by the time we get back to writing again, they are gone.
I knew that I had to find something better than relying only on my memory, which is not as reliable as it once was. To say the least!
I read about numerous examples of what writers were using for their note taking and at first the “book of knowledge” approach, appealed to me. After using it for a few weeks, I found that I did not use it consistently. Pen and paper for me is too labor-intensive both for input and finding what I am looking for quickly.
Over the years I have used most of the major electronic note-taking apps or software. None thrilled me to the point where I would use them for very long. They were either too simplistic, complicated, bloated, moved to an expensive subscription model, or the project cancelled.
I couldn’t find that external brain thing a ma jiggy…err note taking system that worked well for me.
Until the other day.
While I was down-back walking Bennie, I had a fantastic idea for a blog post. The bad thing was that I had left my pocket notebook at home and couldn’t write it down. Knowing myself too well, there was no doubt that if I waited too long that I would forget about what the great idea was (other than I had had one).
Wham! Out of nowhere, I suddenly remembered that Google Keep has speech to text capabilities that are saved as text and voice. I still don’t have a clue how I remembered that fact, but after I did, I pulled out my smartphone and quickly reinstalled Keep.
I recorded my blog post idea, which I would use later. This is what the transcribed Note looked like:
It was a stream of consciousness, but it was enough to jog my memory for three blog posts.
I had used Google Keep quite a bit when I worked at the college to keep track of things and it worked quite well there. However, I never even thought about using it for writing and to keep track of things I want to remember. Looking back on how I could have used Keep if I had made the connection earlier, does make me go mmmm.
The ability of Keep Notes to transcribe my talking to written form is a game-changer though. The transcription may not be perfect every time, but it is close enough that I can figure out what I was saying and that is good enough for me.
For better or worse I have my smartphone on me about 95% of the time, so having the Keep app open and ready to go while on my walks has been eye opening. I have used this feature several times since that day and am liking the ability to “talk to my second brain” more each time that I use it.
I am not losing ideas nearly as often as I used to – I still have to remember to record them. As a result of using Keep, I have written posts that I would have missed in the past. Also my posts are beginning to add in some quotes from articles I have read and many of those ideas that I had while walking, that I would have forgotten about in the past.
What did I learn?
Sitting down and writing this post made me realize how long I have been searching for an app or software that I could store all the stuff that I read, watch or listen to and then be able to retrieve it when I needed to. Using something other than my memory, which doesn’t work quite as well as it used to. In other words I have been looking for what I call my second brain and not have it be something that is so complicated or labor intensive that I would not use it.
In this case despite having used Google Keep at my last job, I had overlooked Google Keep Notes (they are the same thing, but Google recently updated the name) as a possible base of a note-taking system for me, until I had that eureka moment the other day.
Sometimes the answer is too damn obvious and you don’t see it until you suddenly go “hey, this is pretty much what I have been looking for.” Those wonderful aha moments.
I am not going to get into the specifics of how to use Google Keep or how I will be using it. Especially, since I just started using Keep Notes again. My use is only beginning and I am sure will change as I work with it more. There are plenty of articles and videos showing you the intricacies of using Google Keep if you are interested in in.
Google Keep appears to be the answer I have been looking for. It is simple and intuitive, but at the same time surprisingly powerful.
Time will tell. I am sure that I will continue to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of Google Keep Notes and down the road will update how it works.
Disclaimer: I initiated this post and have received no compensation of any kind from anyone to write it. No one has prior knowledge or editorial control over its content. I have not received any compensation for writing this product review. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.