There was a time when keeping track of information involved two or three calendars, a day planner, notebooks full of phone numbers and dozens of plain text files saved to your computer’s desktop as reminders to finish projects and return phone calls.
Thankfully, the digital age has given us some ultra-convenient alternatives, and a ton of them are free, so there’s no reason not to download an app and start boosting productivity. We’ve chosen a few of our favorite options and highlighted the things that set them apart from each other to help you find the perfect fit for yourself or your business.
Compatible with: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and web browsers
The hulking battleship of data management apps, Evernote can do a great many things beyond keep notes, with the ability to upload and sync files, clip articles from the web, record audio and store images, as well as tag files, search within documents and categorize notes into folders. Upgrading to Plus allows for sharing files and even annotations and chat between users, which can be handy for business teams, and the Premium service turns notes into slideshow presentations, supports restoring prior versions of notes and unlimited upload and storage space. If the $25 and $50 per year price tags seem daunting, the free service is still more than enough for the average user.
Compatible with: Mac, iOS, Android and web browsers
With an easy to learn interface and support for multiple platforms, Simplenote is, well, simple to use. The core data management experience is here, with tags and quick searching (though it’s missing folders, which means that document list is going to be very full in no time). You can also rewind time and go back to previous versions of your notes, making it easy to restore old versions of to-do lists and early drafts of documents. Unfortunately, Simplenote is so simple that it’s not going to pull a lot of weight when managing day-to-day life and work projects.
Compatible with: Web browsers, iOS, Android
Docs is part of the Google Drive service, which is itself a great file storage choice with multiple productivity apps included. Docs allows for the creation of professional documents that can be shared with, viewed and edited by anyone you choose, which makes it a great choice for teams working on projects — like when we here at BizBuzz edit our blog posts. Docs shares the backups, tagging and searching features of most other services, but also acts as a full word processing suite, with Microsoft Word compatibility built-in.
Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone (and just about everything else)
Microsoft’s all-inclusive offering shares many features with Evernote, like efficient organization via tagging and notebooks, but also offers privacy-protected notes and a more complete word processor in the desktop app, allowing creative users to make notes look and feel useful and professional while better managing data. Being able to create columns and text fields arranged as necessary allows more information to sit in one area, which is fantastic compared to scrolling up and down lengthy notes looking for certain details.
The Hipster PDA
Compatible with: No devices whatsoever
Sometimes you’ve just got to write stuff down. Made for the holdouts who still believe in keeping handwritten notes and reminders, the Hipster PDA is simple: take some index cards, clip them together and you’ve got a complete file system, ready to go. Inherent downsides include a complete lack of search functions, limited cloud storage (unless the cards get loose into the wind) and taking up a ton of pocket space. Fortunately, it’s cheap, easy to use, doesn’t need to be charged and can be very effective in the right hands.
What are you using to keep up with your projects? Let us know in the comments section below!