Creative or Organized? (Pick one)

Creative or Organized? (Pick one)

Do you have notes jotted everywhere? I know I do. As a full-time writer, ideas are my bread and butter, and I hate letting any of them slip away.

Consequently, I’ve got ideas scribbled on Post-Its, yellow pads, my PDA, digital voice recorder and some Backpack pages. And let’s not even mention the thousands of half-started files in dozens (hundreds?) of folders and subfolders. I often jot down new ideas in a Word doc, save it, then promptly forget all about it — or can’t find it when I need it.

Thanks to a mention in Walt Mossberg’s WSJ column, I’ve been trying out a free note-taking application that shows promise for people like me. (No, not brain dead. BUSY. Too much to keep track of. And like that.)

It’s called EverNote. It’s basically an endless roll of notepaper, not unlike the old green and white striped fanfold computer paper the MIS guys used to use for their reports. (That’s a better analogy than a giant roll of toilet paper, right?)

EverNote lets you snatch just about anything (text, images, etc.) from just about anywhere (Web page, Word doc, spreadsheet, even a hand-scribbled diagram on a tablet PC). Just right-click “Add to EverNote” and it’s added to the bottom of the list – even if the app itself isn’t running. Pretty slick.

Best of all, each note contains a clickable link to its source, no matter where it is. You can also type, drag or paste content into a note, or use a special button on the Firefox toolbar.

There are built-in templates for to-do lists, expenses, shopping lists, but either they’re pretty lame or I’m not using them correctly. That’s OK, I’m still making good use of the product.

Your notes are manageable because you can assign categories to each, then filter by category. You can also search, click on the timeline to go to a certain date, or scroll. Notes can be collapsed or expanded to save screen real estate.

Unlike Backpack, EverNote lives on your hard drive, not a Web page. For you, maybe that’s a drawback, but I prefer it. It’s much, much faster, more nimble and more flexible than Backpack. And it, too, is free. Try it here.

So… what do you use to stay organized?

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