I’ve tried a ton of different note taking programs, from pen and paper (which I still use) to web apps and freeware goodies. It’s been more of a hobby with me than it has been trying to find a viable system for any length of time (much like this site’s ever changing WordPress Themes).
Currently I’m using Notepad++ an Open Source text editor. Think Windows Notepad on steroids. There are many features that I don’t use, but two functions that I like are; the fact that I can browse files ‘Explorer-like’ and also send my saved notes to a web server via FTP. All from within the same program.
Let’s take a look at how I’ve been using Notepad++ on a daily basis. I use it the most at work.
[Click on this photo to see a larger size.]
As I mentioned above, NP++ allows both an Explorer view (ex. A) and an FTP view (ex. B) available via plugins. I don’t always have the FTP panel engaged as it allows for more of a viewing area without.
First and foremost, I had to decide on an organizational structure for my daily notes. If not, I would be faced with a huge run-on list of daily lists, all with different file names, and spread across my USB thumb drive and my work PC. Counter intuitive and sloppy. (Sloppy is only good when it comes to Classic Italian Subs with NO MAYONNAISE).
I created one master directory called ‘All Notes’ (ex. 1). I want to be able to collapse all subsequent files down to just this one folder since it resides on my USB stick. Within ‘All Notes’ are folders labeled for each month of the year (ex. 2). I decided to use a two digit month followed by a four digit year for these files (08-2008). This way they stay in numerical order by month. If you were to open up a Monthly Folder you would see notes saved for each week (ex. 3). Again, naming them “Week of x.xx” (8.08) allows me to visually drill down to any week quickly.
Now that we can actually find a single, weekly “note”, we can further see that it is contains headings for each of the five work days (ex. 4). Since Notepad++ allows for easy indenting via the Tab key, it’s simple to structure each day by utilizing an outline format (ex. 5).
This is my indented ‘something to do’ entry.
…….This is an indented sub-list item.
DONE_ This is my initial ‘something to do’ entry preceded with my version of a check box.
Now I can glance through my weekly list and see what I’ve accomplished as well as what still needs to be ignored completed.
Working with multiple Weeks is easy. Each Weekly Note opens in it’s own tab (ex. C), so you can jump back and forth between weeks. Open only the notes you need. (Firefox and I.E. 7 users will find this very intuitive).
I’ve found that I don’t need fancy formatting, URL underlining, picture embedding, etc., for my basic note taking – no more than I would with Pen and Paper. This is a straight forward text editor with a different set of bells and whistle. It serves more as a record of what I HAVE done, supported by short reminders of things needing attention.
I’d be interested in hearing how other Notepad++ users are utilizing this great app for note taking.