How often do you find, while at your day job, that you suddenly have a really good thought about your dissertation or a reference that you want to check further when you have some time? How do you capture that thought? Do you send yourself an email? Do you just hope you’ll remember? Or do you have a better strategy?
I go back and forth from one office to another, from one computer to another, both away from home and while at home. No matter where I am, I want to know that I can capture an idea that occurs to me or track something that I want to read later. I want to be sure that I’ll have access to that idea and to that article when I am at a different computer.
To have the same note or file in all locations, I send emails to myself.
Sending several notes to the same location (even if it’s me at both ends, sending and receiving) seems to raise suspicions that I’m a spammer. But even more of a problem is that I’m creating and keeping too much in my email files in all locations.
I have always known that putting so much reliance on email and on email files was risky, but since email and e-newsletters and blogs are easily accessed I tend to let the number of emails mount, and suffice to say, I am not managing the size of my email.
In Paula Tarnapol Whitacre‘s Ease in Writing, K.J. McCorry says that “email is a temporary form. . . . Any data considered permanent or needed in the future (1 to 2 years out) should be saved on the hard drive.”
While McCorry directs this advice at the workplace, the advice is also appropriate for professional and academic writers concerned with capturing and saving critical work.
If I shouldn’t file my ideas long-term in email and if I should refrain from sending duplicate emails back and forth among my computers, what should I put in place that would fit my situation?
I am looking for efficient ways to:
1. Save ideas and reminders
2. Keep track of things I want to read later
3. Be able to work on a file from multiple locations
I like what I see in the online Evernote system where I can easily create an account that “allows Evernote to identify [my] notes and make them available to [me] anywhere.” Yeah, available to me anywhere! Furthermore, Evernote will keep my notes “up to date across all of [my] computers, phones, devices and the Web.” Triple yeah, across all of my computers…!!!
The learning curve for this system seems manageable. However, as one would expect, the free version has only so much space.
I’m still comparing systems to find the one which best lets me work on a file from multiple locations.
If you have used Evernote or a similar system, such as Instapaper, what has been your experience? How are you dealing with the need to capture your ideas and save online information? I would love to hear from you.
Watch your email for the February edition of my newsletter—Smart Tips for Writers. If you aren’t receiving my newsletter, you can sign up on my website (www.nancywhichard.com).
Here’s to making it easier to capture our ideas and notes online and to work on a file from multiple locations.
Best to you,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com