Last year I wrote about my transition from Evernote to Apple Notes, Reminders and Google Drive. I will be honest, I have not been using that system for a while now. A few months after (circa September), I noticed a big hole in the system: Apple. Reminders and Notes are great apps, but they only work (offline at least) on Apple’s macOS and iOS.
The iOS part was fine, I use an iPhone, but I don’t use a mac. I was using Apple Notes and Reminders on my PC using icloud.com. It wasn’t perfect because it required some trickery with Chrome, but it was feasible and almost as good as the iOS apps. This was when the only PC I owned was my desktop. I used an iPad and iPhone whenever I was out.
In September, I started University which meant, I needed a laptop. And not because I wanted to type up notes in lectures or anything so trivial. I needed a laptop to write code (I study Computer Science). Remember earlier how I mentioned that Reminders and Notes work offline only on Apple’s OSes? Well, that was a problem. I need to be able to use my GTD system everywhere: on the train, plane, bus, ferry, wherever. These places often don’t have (useable) Wi-Fi.
I noticed this when trying to perform the Weekly Review on the train, the perfect location. A few hours to spare in relative quiet and comfort. I opened Reminders on my laptop and nothing. It doesn’t work because it’s a webpage not an app and the train WiFi just didn’t work at all.
I realised that this system was not going to be usable anymore. Before, it was fine, I only used Reminders and Notes offline on my iOS devices. However, I needed to replace Reminders and Notes with apps that work (offline) on Windows, iOS and other platforms for the future.
In a quest for universal Notes and Reminders apps I found Simplenote and Wunderlist.
Let’s start with Wunderlist: it’s brilliant. It has everything Reminders has apart from location reminders which I never used. It also allows for tags! Which is one major shortfall of Reminders. It also has a few other smart features all shown below.
Simplenote is not really much better than Apple Notes (apart from being multi-platform), but I couldn’t find anything much simpler that still featured folders/tags. However, Simplenote was no good either. It failed to do the most important thing of a notes app: sync properly. I couldn’t trust it so had to switch. I did research the problem, but even if I could fix it, Simplenote was a bit too simple. It has no formatting.
So the quest continued, and I stumbled upon a good old friend: Google Keep. I remember using Google Keep long before I came across GTD. In fact, I remember it being the alpha version of my GTD system (back then (2015), it didn’t have folders so I used it as a sort of reminders app).
Google Keep is remarkably similar to Apple Notes which I like. It has one disadvantage though which is organisation of notes, they’re not very neatly displayed and cannot be rearranged by title.
In all, my current system is not so different from the Apple system that came before it. It’s simply a more universal, platform-independent one which I hope will serve me well for years to come (switching systems is not particularly fun). In the next blog post I will cover Inbox, the email client I use to maintain inbox zero.