Note taking isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when I think about art, but taking great notes really is an art form worth appreciating, and learning. Good notes help facilitate a good memory, more productivity, and even your technical skills. That’s not even mentioning the subject you’re taking notes on, but you get the idea; they’re extremely helpful.
So what’s the secret behind artful, Android note taking? Is it in the speed, clarity, or just the technique itself? Since we aren’t dealing with pen and paper, an app will do most of the work, but how do you choose the right one? There are plenty of notepads or to-do-list apps out there, but I’m going to show you how to choose the right one for you.
What do You Look for in a Note Taking App?
Sometimes just one note taking app isn’t enough to get the job done, but in every app you use, there are a few key things you want to be present.
1. Good Organizational Tools
This sounds pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. If your notes are a jumbled mess, it’ll take longer to find relevant information, and they might even be unusable. This is where good organizational tools come into the picture.
For example, let’s look at the app Trello. Trello itself isn’t about taking notes but is heavily focused on organization. It uses a card system that’s not unlike a filing cabinet. You organize all of your cards into different categories and columns, then move them freely however you choose.
At any point in time, you can add files to the cards, change names, alter dates and times, or even delete entire columns and their contents. If the note taking app you’re using doesn’t have a great organizational system, look to Trello to see what a good one looks, and how it performs
2. Easy to Use Voice Commands
Not every note needs to be essay length and double spaced with twelve point font; sometimes you just need to jot down that you need more milk. If your note-taking app has voice commands, it’s even easier to make quick notes to yourself in just a few seconds.
Whether it’s with the tap of a few buttons, or completely through voice activation, being able to tell your Android what you need to be reminded of is an amazing feature that every note app should have.
For example, let’s look at Voice notes/memos by gawk. It’s a pretty simple app, but it’s easy to use with your voice, and even touches on my third tip below this one. If you just want to make a quick reminder for a small task, or an errand, being able to make a note to yourself vocally is extremely valuable.
3. Timed Reminders
This fits along with my comments about the organization, and Trello even makes for a fine example again. For quick notes to self, and notes you need to look at throughout the day or week, it’s important to have a reminder now and then to look at them.
I write things down all the time, but just minutes later, I’ll end up forgetting about the note, and what was on it. While a note can help you remember past details, it’s useless if you forget the note exists.
If the app you’re using doesn’t have something like that, even the default Android calendar app has timed reminders built in. If there’s something small you need to remember on a certain date, your calendar app is the perfect tool that’s easy to use and doesn’t take up any extra space.
4. Push Notifications
It almost seems self-explanatory that a good note taking app needs even better push notifications, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth mentioning. For smaller notes like a to-do list, or even for notes about a lecture, or for business, it’s important to have reminders that push to the forefront of your day.
When looking for a good app for you while taking notes, make sure its push notification settings suit your needs. As a good rule of thumb, if you can edit the notification system at all, that’s a great sign. Even if you don’t take advantage of the extra tools, they’re important to have at your disposal.
These kinds of notifications are necessary for everyone, but for most note takers, they’ll be helpful in almost every situation.
Gamification isn’t a word I use very often, and it’s not really a word I like either, but it’s a process that almost always improves productivity and commitment. So what exactly is gamification when it comes to note taking? Gamification is when you turn any task(s) into something more fun, like a game.
Taking notes, or even going over notes is pretty boring by itself, so why not make more of a game out of it? An app like Habitica takes your daily tasks and turns them into an RPG. It’s easier to remember to pick up milk at the end of the day or remember the key points of a lecture if they’re tied to something fun, exciting, or interesting.
If the app itself doesn’t have any gamification elements, it’s easy to make up something similar yourself. Instead of turning your note taking into a game, give yourself small rewards along the way each time you follow through on your notes or put them to good use. Good notes are already rewarding, but some extra motivation never hurts.
These tips sound pretty simple, but that’s only because taking good notes is simpler than it seems at a glance. We live in a mobile world now, so the days of taking notes by hand are long gone. With Android in your pocket or by your side, mastering mobile note taking only takes minutes.
If you still need help taking better notes, feel free to leave a note or a question below.