Digital Hoarders?
Are we capturing
too much?
Which apps can you get rid of?
What do you REALLY need?

[Updated: 10/16] Everything Has Weight: Going Without Evernote (and Other Apps)

My iPhone homepage (2012)

This week I’m chasing an idea: do I really need all the apps I’ve said I do?

I’ve got apps for my schedule, tasks, notes, reminders, habits, music, and more. I’ve got a journal, work notebook, notebook for brainstorming, and another for lyrics, not to mention dozens of digital notebooks I carry with me in Evernote.

But do I really need them?

I believe EVERYTHING has weight, digital or not, so the more you keep, the more you carry. Evernote is great at capturing things, but it’s easy to get carried away and before you know it, you’re hoarding every stupid thing you see online away because you “don’t want to forget it”. Digital pack rats all of us.

But your mind purposely lets you forget things. You simply don’t need but so much information to survive and thrive. Maybe we should embrace the natural state of things a little?

So I’m experimenting with fewer apps and notebooks, starting with Evernote. I’ve copied just three notes from it and am putting the app on a shelf. If I’m doing well, I’ll start looking away ways to transfer that stuff I keep somewhere else, probably just go old school and back things up to a hard drive.

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the sky won’t be falling anytime soon.

[Update: 10/13/2012] More than 24 hours now and there’s been almost zero need to use Evernote at all. Will likely scan a few notebooks for today’s weekly review, but I’m already making plans to offload my stuff. More specifically, I’m now thinking about where content I’ve been keeping in Evernote – if I need to keep it all – would be better placed. For instance, what would only be used on a computer or a phone?

[Update: 10/16/2012] Hard to believe it, but I’m actually feeling less stressed than I did a few days ago. Not sure exactly why, but I’ve only glanced at Evernote a couple of times, all where there was information there that needed to be moved somewhere else. I’m arguably getting more done, though this could be me projecting or dumb luck.

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6 Responses to “[Updated: 10/16] Everything Has Weight: Going Without Evernote (and Other Apps)”

  1. 1
    AM | Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Evernote makes it way too easy to capture too much information that I don’t need and will forget about anyway. And once the info is captured, I find the EN app itself to be limiting and clunky. Obviously many people love EN and find it useful for specific uses (like writers doing research), but for me not using EN leads to a clearer mind.

    I do need to keep some reference material, and for that I like the Notes app on the iPhone, or text files in a folder hierarchy in Dropbox (accessed by something like Notesy) or GDocs. I use Instapaper or Google Reader to read things later.

    • 1.1
      Weszt | Reply
      October 14, 2012 at 7:57 am

      I believe that Evernote purposely imposes limits, keeps things simple, and focuses just on potent features that just work. Not dissimilar from Apple who instead of launching products (e.g. iPhone) with everything that people say they need, Apple focuses on getting core functions right and deliver what they feel people really need. This is always controversial, but that focus, those imposed limitations, are more often than not IMHO better user experiences (so says the UX designer). Overall I think it’s a really good product.


      The habit of capturing so much is burdensome, I believe. At one point I had several thousand notes, most of which I’d never taken more than 2 seconds to look at. It was like hoarding, this “oh, I simply can’t forget that” mentality. But I could forget all that. I don’t want my note taking tools to become a job.

      So I don’t want to beat up Evernote. I think it’s great. I’ve just reached a point where I can see the strength and beauty of living with less and a pen and paper are enough.

      As for using Notes on iOS and Dropbox, yep, that’s a configuration I’ve been thinking about, too.

      I’d love to hear about your tickler files because I’m taking a similar approach there, too. Anything that has a date I can either set reminders for or put on a calendar, but I’ve found it useful to have a few lists to remind me of things that don’t fit in projects or involve people operating around me.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, by the way!

      • 1.1.1
        AM |
        October 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

        Most of my tickler files are paper-based (43 folders in a filing cabinet), which I check every morning (unless I forget!) or All Day entries in Google Calendar that are colored red, like paying certain bills because I want to do that as late as possible for cashflow reasons (my calendar is the one thing I must check every morning and do).

      • Weszt |
        October 16, 2012 at 7:13 am

        Wow – so you truly do the 43 folders approach? I’ve never taken that plunge, possibly because I don’t have much paper and didn’t think the classic Tickler approach was a fit for me. Huh. Might need to reconsider that.

  2. 2
    AM | Reply
    October 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    It works, and it’s simple too. Ideally, the folders are within reach of one’s desk. I try to minimize the number of things I must do each morning, but checking my calendar for the day (which was organized the night before) and looking at the folder for today’s date is essential. For me, the folders contain mostly bills or letters to mail on a certain date, plus paper forms/receipts/etc. tied to dated events. All of that could be done electronically, of course, but not everything is electronically delivered to me, and I don’t want to take time to scan stuff into Evernote or similar if it’s not necessary.

    • 2.1
      Weszt | Reply
      October 18, 2012 at 7:41 am

      Thanks for the information! It’s really helpful to hear what other people are doing.

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