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  • Writer's picturePrem Sundaram

Are you a Short Notes or Long Notes Person?

What are short notes and what's the difference between short and long notes?

We have a particular viewpoint on this and it is centers on the concept of the short Index Card / Notecard style note (the kind you can create in NoteDex), and a long US Letter/A4 paper size note (the kind you create in other note taking apps like Evernote, OneNote and (name your notetaking app here).

A short note, that you might create an index card for in real life, will capture things like:

  • Salient points of a meeting - notes taken during a meeting 'not to forget'

  • Core insights from a lecture - summary points from a lecture or paper

  • Action To-Do items

  • An Idea or a Thought

  • Summary of a longer article

  • Snippets of quotes / citations from literature research

  • Odd bits and URLs of information from the web

  • Small items of personal information not to forget

  • 'To-Buy' shopping lists

  • A reference to a different web source (e.g. a link to a video)

  • Outlines of a story you are writing

  • Quick ink notes

  • A 'don't forget' note to aid you - hey don't we all seem to suffering from memory loss these days?!

  • Short notes that you connect to each other

  • Small questions and answers to aid memory learning - flashcards

  • Summary of a client interview and bullet points of action items

  • Capturing outlines after brainstorming with a mind map

  • Keeping a log of your ideas so you can free up your working memory

Example of a Short Note Capturing an Idea (Using NoteDex)

Comparatively, things you will use and write as a long note are more likely to be:

  • Multi-page of meeting notes as you interviewing someone

  • Capturing an ongoing lecture (you are in writing mode not thinking mode)

  • Writing an essay paper based on the literature snippets you created

  • Official minutes of a meeting

  • Writing the novel based on your storyboard outline

  • Writing your research paper based on the information snippets you captured

  • Writing a proposal to a client based on your ideas and client meeting notes

As you can see there is a difference in the use-case and style between short and long notes.

Now that we know the difference we can be more specific about what makes a good 'note' system - and this will help you to sort out which note apps might be best for you. Are you taking mainly short notes, long notes or - more likely - both?

Example of a Long Note Capturing Notes (In OneNote)

Which is the Best Note App for You to take Short Notes?

If you search the internet every 'note' application developer will have somewhere on their site the statement 'best note app' (and hey, we're not immune to this!). And there are also an equal amount of note taking gurus on the internet who claim to be able to guide you on this also. Like anything in life however, the answer for you is 'it depends'.

It depends on how you handle your information workflow and what your requirements are. It depends on how you want to create and curate your personal information management system.

In addtion to being the founder of NoteDex, I am also an experienced Information Management and Project Management consultant - working in Los Angeles for 30 years advising individuals and companies on their information strategies. The beginning of every succesful engagement always starts with what are your requirements, and this is the philosophy we bring to NoteDex.

You also need to have a good information management framework to help you understand where you are in the information management process ('process' - remember that word!).

C.O.R.E (TM) Information Management Framework

To help NoteDex users we have designed a proprietary four step process we call 'C.O.R.E' - Capture, Organize, Retrieve, Exchange - that is built into the application and how it works. Using NoteDex will help you follow this framework automatically.

We will write a more detailed article about C.O.R.E but the point I want to make here is that if you can look at your needs with this framework, it will help you to decide which is the best tool for you for each step - and it may well be that the right tool for you is not just one tool - it might be a combination of apps.

For instance, we find that many NoteDex users - even though they can take very dense meeting notes on a notecard in NoteDex, choose to use a tool like Evernote or OneNote to 'capture' their meeting notes. This is also becoming increasingly popular with e-ink devices like the Onyx Book (which we love btw) and the Remarkable2 (amazing marketing campaign, right?!).

Taking these notes (Capture) is very effective. But Organizing? Perhaps not so great. This is in fact the core issue that led to the creation of NoteDex.

Organizing infomation to be able to be found and actioned upon is just as important as the initial capture. In this area many people might use their long note tool to organize into folders and/or tag with a category. If your app does this and you are happy then that's great. We find a lot of users will do a 1-2 step process with OneNote and NoteDex for instance - taking the long note in OneNote and using it as your 'note filing cabinet' - but then using NoteDex to link to that note and capture key points and actions as a notecard. You can see how you don't need to be restricted to just one app and the apps you link together become your information management workflow.

Capture Long Note - Summarize into Short Notes

The next step of CORE - Retrieve - is meant to help you think about how to retrieve and remember information. So searching and seeing your notes becomes important. This is where - we claim - that seeing a nice view of all your notecards in mini-previews - with all your note (not just the top few lines) - makes all the difference in retrieving information. And, to toot our horn, this is what NoteDex does that no-other app on the market can do. It's why we designed NoteDex and what helps users on a day to day basis to work faster.

The visual view of your information helps you to retrive information. Of course, this is not important for everyone, and this is again a good example that the best app for you might not be someone else. If you like just seeing a text header for a note that might be just fine. Visually oriented and creative professonals often like to see a picture and they might be more inclined to like our high fidelity visual note previews of a whole note - that includes all the text, ink and images of the notecard.

Finally, when chosing a note app you will want to decide if sharing that information is important to you. If it is then a tool like our NoteDex can help, with our super-easy sharing capabilities. Unlike other apps the people you share a note to don't need to sign-up for a NoteDex account - we've eliminated all the friction from this process - they will just click a link that you send them and enter a password if you set one, and voila the note appears on their web browser.

So - are you taking Short Notes, Long Notes or Both?

I know that was a bit of long excursion from the intro of 'what is a short note', to 'how to choose a note app' - but i think it is important to remember that in your day to day work life you are creating all kinds of information - short and long - and you should know which tool you are using and why.

And now a little bit of shameless self-app promotion. NoteDex is a great tool to take short notes - it helps you cover all the four C.O.R.E information management stages. NoteDex is great for visual people and using the app will help you to organize all your information in a way that will make you feel at peace and productive.

While NoteDex can be used to take detailed meeting notes like this, it also works great as your 'second app' to summarize and organize notes (or make flashcards). You might prefer to keep using Evernote, OneNote or your Remarkable to take ink notes for instance, but then reference the note in NoteDex and create a notecard with a few summary bullet points and action items for you to easily manage.

We do that also - I think it's great to use the right app for the right job - sure, sometimes I take a quick note in OneNote or a long meeting note in NoteDex. But by and large I use OneNote to capture lengthly multipage ink notes when I am interviewing a client, and create my NoteDex notes to select key insights, issues and actions to work with.

We hope you found this article useful to help you think about being more organized and productive with your information!

Prem Sundaram

Founder NoteDex.


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