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Your Business Memory Tool – Note Apps

Being in business, whether you’re self-employed or a manager or owner of a business, it’s challenging to stay competitive and prosper. Even more so in the post COVID-19 business world, your ability to stay on top of details of multiple facets of business ownership and management can make the difference between success and failure.

If you examine your typical business day, there are probably dozens or even hundreds of instances of some bit of information you can use later. No matter how good your memory, most of these information bits will not come to top of mind when you can use them later. When Post-it notes appeared, they became an extremely popular way to record bits of information, even when not in the office. They could be carried in a pocket and a quick note written anytime.

Though handy, post-it notes are not well-suited to many note-taking situations. Today’s technology saves the day with applications that allow you to capture information into a note filing system for later retrieval. The top three are Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Keep. Google Keep lacks many of the features of the other two, so those are resources discussed here.

There are many common features and abilities of OneNote and Evernote, as well as some differences. You can do your own comparison of which better meets your needs. Cost could be a consideration if you want all of the features, as OneNote is free, while Evernote’s Premium version carries a cost, as well as their collaboration rich business version. Both allow the capture of information in multiple ways in different situations and on different platforms.

Note Storage, Filing, and Retrieval

Both OneNote and Evernote allow you to create notebooks. You can then add notes to them to allow grouping for later reference. One example would be a notebook for a project. All notes from every input method that are relevant to that project would be saved into that notebook. Later, when you’re ready to plan or start the project, you have your notes stored in time filed order for fast retrieval.

Freelancers can create notebooks for clients and sub-notebooks for individual projects for the client. Retailers can create product category notebooks. Home service companies may want notebooks by neighborhood, job type, or both. Vendor and supplier notebooks could be right for most any business.

Finding Information You’ve Captured

One way in which to further organize your captured notes is with tags. Both apps have tagging of notes as a feature. As an example, you may have a notebook for a project, and you can tag a note in that notebook with the tag “Materials,” or “Personnel.” This is like the notebook becoming a file cabinet drawer and the tag is a file folder in the drawer. OneNote take tagging to another level by allowing easy highlighting of text in a note and tagging just that text.

Tagging allows you to search later for a tag and you can immediately see all notes with that tag. It’s fast, but you can also just search all notes with various search operators. Evernote has more options to refine your search to get to the precise information you want. Both can use OCR, Optical Character Recognition, in images to convert text. An example would be a real estate agent who takes a photo of a home for sale sign. Both apps can recognize the text so later the agent can search on the listing agent’s name and find that note with their sign to grab the phone number.

Capturing Information

Any notetaking application and filing system is only valuable if you use it. Making it easy to capture notes from different platforms and wherever you may be is what sets great apps apart. Both OneNote and Evernote allow the methods here for capturing notes, but there are feature differences. Study both to see which best meets your needs, and some of the features here do require paying for the Premium version of Evernote.

  • Web Clipping – business owners, and freelancers who write or do marketing, do a lot of online research. A web clipper in a note app allows you to capture entire web pages or highlighted portions and send the note to the folder of choice with any tagging you desire. This is valuable, as you can quickly move on to the next site, taking specific notations from each, and you can pull the notes together later for your project.
  • Document Scanning – you can scan documents using your smartphone camera. Both apps can use OCR to index the text in the document so you can find it later with a text search if necessary.
  • Photo Notes – use your smartphone camera to capture images as already mentioned in the real estate sign example above. The image note feature is especially useful for:
    • Onsite notetaking for inspections, construction, remembering a location, etc.
    • Quality control
    • Receipts for taxes
    • Taking info from signs and print ads for addresses and phone numbers later.
    • Take photo of handwritten note or info, later OCR converts to text for search.
  • Type Notes – type notes directly into the app, and if you’re using a pen, draw an image as well.
  • Voice Notes – Using your phone, you can record a voice note. One Evernote Premium advantage is that it instantly converts the voice to text as you speak.

Though you’ll want to research the apps to see which best meets your needs, the value of these tech note solutions for the business person is clear. Remember everything from now on, and find it when you need it.

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