Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tech Column: Going Paperless, Part 2, Sticky Notes in a Paperless World

by Bill Adler

Last week I wrote about going paperless, http://bit.ly/WJ01mN. The grand picture --scanning mountains of paper, finding a program that works best for keeping and searching all your paper-- is key, but the little things matter, too.  Such as Post-its (a/k/a envelopes and the back of your hand).

How do you replace paper Post-its? What is a good, quick way to take notes, and to have them handy? When it comes to doing things like jotting down phone numbers, coming up with a quick password, saving a great idea before it gets lost in the memory tunnel, nothing beats the ubiquitous Post-it.

I'm a big fan of Evernote, www.evernote.com, which is my main note taking program and unlimited memory extension. But even with Evernote there are times when it's useful deploy an even faster note taking program, or have sticky-note type decorations on my PC's desktop for quick visual access.

There are terrific Post-it type note programs --generically called "sticky notes"-- for Windows, Mac, and Linux. There's  an endless list of them actually, so I'm only going to mention a few here. Some sticky notes are cloud-based, meaning that your data resides in the ether, so you can access your notes anywhere. Some sticky notes just keep data on your one and only PC. Some sticky notes use the familiar Post-it format, while others go all out with design. Some programs are made for sharing notes, while others figure that you don't want to share the phone number of that talented, personable $20/hour plumber you just got. (Why not share? What's the matter with you?)

3M, the maker of the famous, official, trademarked Post-it notes, also has a robust sticky notes program for Windows, which you can try for free at http://bit.ly/XwnCYx. Post-It Digital Notes' notes reside on your PC; you can't access them on your smartphone. 3M's stickies are great for a traditionalist who like the Post-it note format. You can do more with digital notes than with paper notes, too: 3M's program lets you add alarms to notes, for example.

Stickies by Zhorn Software, www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies, has many of the features in 3M's digital Post-It's, but it's free. When you create a note with Stickies, that note will remain on your screen where you put it, even if you reboot. Stickies is Windows only.

If you're an Evernote user, take a look at Sticky Notes, http://trunk.evernote.com/app/sticky-notes/windows, which syncs your Post-it style notes with your Evernote notebook. Now that's handy: Having your quick musings added to your permanent note collection on Evernote. Sticky Notes works as a stand alone Post-it type program in Windows, too.

Sticky Notes Online, www.sharpra.com, lets you quickly create notes that you can access later from any computer browser or smartphone. If you're looking for an easy-to-use sticky notes program that gives you access to your notes anywhere, take a look at Sticky Notes Online.

If you like the corkboard style of notes, give Spaaze, www.spaaze.com, a try. You can add notes, images and other material to your corkboard. Your corkboard hangs out in the cloud so it's available everywhere. Mural.ly, https://beta.mural.ly, is another creative, clever corkboard style sticky notes service, that also lets you share boards with others.

Diigo, www.diigo.com, makes a clever and versatile web highlighter, that lets you add notes to specific webpages pages, as well as highlight pages, just as you did with a yellow highlighter in school. When you return to a page you've previously added a sticky note to or highlighted, your handiwork will be there.

These are just a few of the sticky notes apps and programs that you can get. There are dozens more, so you're bound to find one that has all the features you want to help pave your own paperless path.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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