Church office in your pocket: Notes
Organise your head
If you're an inveterate note taker like me, pick up the excellent Notebooks for iPhone and iPad. It wins no prizes for an original name, but unlike the built-in Notes app this handles multiple Notebooks – ideal for getting all your stuff and thoughts organised.
Perhaps you’ve used the Hemingway-inspired Moleskine real-world notebooks? I’ve done so for years and jotted notes, ideas, plans, thoughts, lists of music, plays, films, writing projects and much more within their sleek, black covers. If so, you’ll feel right at home here. You can set the font to make it look like you've just jotted your notes by hand and can even have that neat squared or lined off-white Moleskine paper as a background image on which to write. Digital bliss.
I use Notebooks for everything from creative writing ideas to sermon brainstorming to checklists to thoughts for family presents to To Do tracking for different areas of life (such as church, work, home, hobbies). I have 11 different notebooks within the app for different areas of life and interest and simply start a new page or add to an existing one as required. Here are some items from the 'Church' Notebook:
Notebooks has been beefed up in a number of other areas recently and now has checklist and task functions that allow you to tick off those jobs that you’ve done. Its features are even beginning to chase some of the other To Do apps available. Just like the wonderful Pocket Informant diary app I wrote about recently, which also has To Do management built in. However, what Notebooks does best, and really simply, is let you write stuff down.
- People to keep in touch with
- Area congregation notes & thoughts
- Current small groups
- Notes for my next talk
- Church social media ideas
- Admin notes
One thing I always fretted about when using a physical notebook was losing it – all those genius ideas, gone! Well, peace is at hand. You can set up a sync (backup) using the free Dropbox service. Notebooks' data isn’t saved when you sync your iPhone with your desktop computer so this is worth doing.
While I miss the tactile pleasure of note taking, I’m reassured that all my scribblings are safe and sound, even if I lose my phone. The other big advantage of using Dropbox is if I want to use a note on my computer, it doesn't need transcribing: I can simply email the note to myself, or even pick any note up directly from Dropbox.
Notetaking on multiple platforms
I only update Notebooks on my iPhone – you can’t edit a note on your desktop computer and have that synchronised with the copy on your iPhone. That’s fine for the way I work at the moment, but you may want to be able to update notes you write wherever you are or on a wider range of platforms.
This is where the exceedingly clever Evernote comes in. You can install a copy of the app or software on all kinds of smart phone operating systems (for example iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, WebOS), desktop computers (running Mac OS or Windows) as well as using browser plug-ins to clip and save web content (such as Safari, Chrome and Firefox).
Write in the mobile version of Evernote and your note is saved online and visible in the desktop version and vice versa. I find creating new notes in Evernote on my iPhone a bit too fiddly when I'm in a hurry and just want to write, but there’s no denying the power of this feature. If being able to edit your notes in different places is important to you, that could be the deciding issue when it comes to choosing a digital notebook.
Got a great iPhone app that helps you do your stuff?
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Moleskine notebooks image © Farbfoto - Fotolia.com