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Never Forget - A Guide to Free Note Taking Software

Updated on February 19, 2015
Find note taking and capture software for your small business
Find note taking and capture software for your small business | Source

Note taking software for your small business

If you have paper strewn all over your desk or multiple Post It notes stuck to your monitor, then this article is for you. Staying on top of things in business means that we often need to be able to easily capture information and take notes, wherever we are.

While a pen and paper never suffers from downtime or computer outages, there are some great free note taking software applications that can capture your thoughts, tasks and ideas at your desk or on the move.

In this article, we'll discuss:

  • What are note taking and capture applications good for?
  • What features do you need?
  • In what specific business areas can note taking software help?
  • Compare note taking applications and features
  • Download note taking and capture applications


The benefits for you and your small business are:

  • Reduce the amount of scrap paper and Post It notes that you have collected!
  • Learn about some of the key features that make note taking apps useful
  • Capture, reference and access important business information quickly and easily
  • Easily see what each of the applications offers
  • Download and try out the software

You can easily turn your notes into actionable lists
You can easily turn your notes into actionable lists | Source

What are note taking and capture applications good for?

When you’re in business, there are a whole host of thoughts, ideas, commitments and other items that you need to track. Having effective note taking and capture software can help you in all of these areas.


Notes that you might want to capture

  • Tasks and actions that you or others need to carry out
  • Meeting minutes, discussions and decisions
  • Plans for the future and business strategy
  • Commitments and promises that you've made
  • Reminders to follow up with colleagues or clients
  • Appointments and meetings
  • Contact details, emails, addresses and phone numbers
  • Business ideas and thoughts
  • Project plans, ideas and progress
  • Business proposals and client approaches
  • Research and reference materials
  • Useful articles, hints and tips
  • Guides, advice and tutorials
  • Other miscellaneous information


Ways to use note taking applications in a small business

Area
Types of notes
Productivity
Tasks and actions; meeting minutes; draft plans; project planning; project documentation
Acquiring new business
Business proposals; requests for information; invitations to tender; customer processes
Research & design
Website content research; design documentation; testing feedback; development planning
Business strategy
Medium and long term planning; competitor analysis; market research; white papers
Customer relationships
Contact details; correspondence; planning approach to customers; promotion of products / services
Products & services
Ideas for new products / services; customer feedback; refining and testing ideas
Useful information
Web articles; correspondence; reference materials; 'aha' moments; guides and advice
Integrating note taking with your business practices is a great habit to learn
Integrating note taking with your business practices is a great habit to learn | Source

What features should a good note taking application have?

A good note taking application should have some or all of the features below to become an important part of how you do your work. If it doesn't meet at least some of these needs, the likelihood is that you’ll bypass it for something better or easier.

Good note taking applications should be:

  • Portable & accessible
  • Fast
  • Easy to use
  • Have good capture capabilities
  • Offer synchronization
  • Be searchable


Portable & Accessible

You need to be able to access the app wherever you are, so having it available on a tablet or phone is very useful. Many of the more popular applications have both desktop/browser and tablet/phone versions, which makes things much easier!

Fast

You should be able to add, review and retrieve notes quickly. The application needs to be responsive so that you can easily get to the notes you need, when you need them.

Easy to use

You shouldn't have to wrestle with the interface or software; entering and retrieving notes should be simple and painless. You should be able to get from the application to entering or retrieving a note in five seconds or less.

Good capture capabilities

Part of a great application is the ability to quickly and easily capture or 'clip' information from anywhere. Being able to clip details from emails, websites and other locations adds a great deal to the usefulness of note taking software.


Synchronization

You should be able to access information wherever you are. Your notes should sync across multiple devices; an update made in one place should be duplicated across others.


Searchable

If you have lots of notes, being able to search and tag them easily is essential. If you're using your note taking software as a reference library, logical and consistent search will become a big part of your workflow.


Compare the features of note taking and capture software

You can see a comparison of the capabilities of the most popular software below.

Compare Note Taking Software for Your Small Business
Compare Note Taking Software for Your Small Business | Source

A quick quiz on note-taking software

view quiz statistics

Review, download and try out popular Note Taking Software

The note taking software below is specifically designed to capture, review and organize your thoughts.

  • Evernote – Considered by many to be the best note taking software available, Evernote works across multiple devices, is easily searchable and allows you to clip content directly from the web or emails; it also has a very active user community and is in constant development
  • Google Docs / Drive – Although not designed specifically as a note taking app, Google Docs can easily be adapted and with plugins that allow web capture and integration with Gmail can be very useful; you can create notes in multiple formats and mobile access to all of your Google Docs is very helpful. It also syncs seemlessly with your local content via Google Drive
  • Simplenote – If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of Evernote, Simplenote is a good choice. It features a clean, easy to use interface which allows capture of text notes. Very light weight and effortless to use
  • Fetchnotes – A new note taking application with a huge amount of free online storage space for all your files
  • Toodledo – If you use Toodledo for task management, you may also want to use it for capturing notes; the application features an area specifically for capturing simple thoughts. Probably not for advanced note users, if you just want something simple, Toodledo is worth looking into

Evernote is a very popular note taking application
Evernote is a very popular note taking application | Source

We hope that you are able to download and test some of this free note taking software and that it can free you from the burden of post it notes and hasty scribbles! That next great idea is only a few words away…


Do you have any hints, tips, techniques or ideas for using note taking software effectively? If so, please let us know in the comments.

Video - Evernote Tutorial - 3 Ways I Run My Business Using Evernote

You probably don't want your office wall to end up looking like this!
You probably don't want your office wall to end up looking like this! | Source

If you found this article useful, interesting or informative, please do check out my other guides for small business owners here.

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