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thestormtrooper

(Archived) Journal - use one long note or many notes?

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Hi,

 

I've been using Evernote for quite a while but never had the need to post a question. However... I'm looking for a few opinions...

 

Currently I have a Journal and also a To Do List within my Evernote, these are my two main used notes. My current simple setup is as follows:

 

To Do List: A single note, it's really just a list of important things I need to sort that day or at some point. I just use one single note and then use the score out font character to score something out once I've completed it. One annoyance is that on the android app it doesn't have this score out characters option in the fonts!? No a huge problem though as I either delete or alter on the laptop later.

 

Journal: For the last 6 or 7 months I traveled around Central America, while travelling I've always wanted to keep a small journal of what I've been doing each day etc. I used to always struggle to do this with pen and paper but since I've started using Evernote this has become easier and easier. I really just keep a short post from each day, sometimes only a sentence or two... other days several hundred words. I think they call it micro blogging but sometimes I get a bit carried away if something interesting has happened. While keeping these notes in my Journal I have just used a single note called: Central America. I just checked and it's around 20,000 words. All of this is in a single note the same style as my to do list just with a lot more text.

 

This brings me to my question...

 

I have this system where effectively I only use two notes to record stuff to do and a journal. The journal covers quite a few months, I could shorten it into a month at a time? or country at a time? or should I use an individual note for each day? I want to keep in the habit of taking notes even when I am not travelling.

 

So quite simply... is there benefits to individual notes? or just long single notes?

 

Any help advice, feedback or tips are appreciated.

 

Thanks.

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Hi - welcome to the forums,  and thanks for an interesting question..

 

My vote would be for lots of small notes.  Large notes are difficult to search within,  annoying to scroll down through,  and sooner or later you might run into a size limitation.  Small notes are defined by their content and their created date,  and you can tag the content individually so the day with the python!! can be found easily amongst all the rest.  You could maybe put the notes in a separate notebook so they're shareable,  but I'm a big one notebook (unless you have a very good reason) fan.

 

Hope that helps.

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Great summary by Gaz - take advantage of the search capabilities in Evernote by using many small notes. That is where Evernote really shines.

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I used to use one big note for my daily work notes, and also one big note for a specific project. After a while I started breaking my notes into one per month. I also had a single master 'task' note. After years of working with Evernote I can tell you this is not the way to go. For one I kept hitting into limitations of what the client would search. This limit varies by platform, but I found that search would not find stuff deep down in a long document. Also it just gets really hard to manage. Long notes are also a giant pain on mobile.

 

Of course everyone does things their own way, but now I prefer to keep lots of smaller notes. I keep a daily work  log note. Individual work 'tasks' also get their own note, as do journal entries. One advantage of the smaller notes is that you can use note links to create a table of contents or cross link. My daily log can link to the individual 'tasks' that I worked on through out the day. Also journal entries can reference other related notes. It is very powerful.  Another reason to use smaller notes is the new reminders feature (Currently Mac and iOS only). This can work very well for 'tasks', as they can bubble up to the top until you 'complete' them.

 

Just a side note about 'tasks'. I don't define a task as a single line with a check box in front of it. For me it is a small, contained unit of work, feature to be implemented (I'm a developer) or 'thing' to be done (get the house painted). It is usually a single note that contains several steps - these are what I use the check boxes for. 

 

I also used to use one giant notebook and have hundreds of tags. Of course back in the old days Evernote didn't support multiple notebooks so that is where I got the habit. Now a days I use a lot of different notebooks organized in stacks. For many people moving notes from one notebook to another is part of their work flow, - like from a 'ToDo' notebook to a 'Done' notebook. 

 

These are just my own opinions and experiences however. YMMV. 

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What's remarkable about Evernote is its capacity to accomodate the workflow of the individual user.  I'm amazed at how creatively folks apply this platform to their lives.  With that said, the idea of a meganote defeats some of Evernote's power.  Discreet notes (the basic atomic structure of Ev) can be titled, tagged and organized for later reference.  The meganote presumably encompasses one broad topic and makes search within the note problematic.  My own journaling (my Timeline as it's called) involves a note for each entry with the notes inside of a single notebook.  They could also be organized under a single tag.

 

Regarding notebooks, I'm with Gaz in that I keep almost all of my notes in one master notebook and reserve other notebooks for time-limited projects (and my Timeline).  My general rule is that I do as much as humanly possible with tags.  

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I have a daily journal going back to the 1970s, one note for each day (14,000 of them altogether). For efficient search and recall, "lots of little notes" works really well for me.

 

This was a multi-year project involving scanning a lot of old paper records, but it's proved very useful both for work and socially. (I was recently having one of those "remember when we went to see that movie in high school" conversations, and I was able to pull up not only my record of who was there, but my scanned image of the ticket stub. Jaws dropped.)

 

The other advantage of a one-note-per-day scheme is that it gives you a framework on which to hang attachments: scan anything you have with a date on it, and attach it to that day's note.

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The way I do my journaling is; I have a master note and each time I want to add something I start a new note then merge the new note into the master. The reason I dont just edit the master note, is my tablets performance with very long notes is very poor. So with a fresh new note I dont get the lag when I am typing into the note. I also use the date in the title of the new note, and using the merge function I can keep them all in cronological order. Hint: when Merging files, on the PC use the CTRL key then select the master, then the new note. This will "append" the new note to the bottom of the Master.

Hope that helps.

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On my iPhone, which I have with me most of the time and on which I'm most likely to write notes about how my day is going, I use the app PostEver. It lets me create one note per day. As I write new things, it appends them to the note. I have it set up to save that note to my Journal notebook. I can take or import pictures into those notes as well.

My journal project is no where near as organized or comprehensive as Don's but, I agree with his use of one note per day. Periodically (end of the month or when I remember), I will merge the notes for that month with other notes I include in my journal. I then spend way too much time making a pretty PDF. I keep the original individual notes and ditch the combined one when I've finished with it.

My idea is to eventually combine everything, print it and bind it because, well, I still like the occasional printed books. And, of course, I'll need something to donate to my alma mater's library, right?

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Having multiple notes makes sense, but the one think that becomes difficult, is reading it. Point is, if you cante remeber something specific that happened on a day / week, you maywant to just scan through a few days. Now you would have to open file after file.. 

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Just one single note for everything is the ultimate workflow. This is why the app is called EverNOTE (one infinite note that you use forever)

:P

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so I was thinking along the lines of one note, but the guys responding on this topic have provided a pretty argument why multiple is better. If you used one note, would you have to manually each day add a date heading?

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Lool it was a joke

Microsoft OneNote would work better for one note only workflow though.

:P

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I'd go the multiple note route. As others have said you can search quite easily. Also if you tag your journal entries (e.g. "journal") and/or put them in a separate notebook, you can drag that tag or notebook to your shortcuts on the left hand side of your Evernote window, so that you can open them with one click in future. If you do a similar thing with your ToDo list you could then use the new reminders feature to set reminders against individual to do items, which you can't do when they're all in one big file. You could also do some slightly more complex things such as having project notes, "someday" notes for items that you want to capture, but don't intend to act on any time soon, etc.

 

If you're going to continue using one big journal note and one big to do note you may as well just use a simple text editor and have these documents open, or saved on your desktop, all the time. You're not really using the power of Evernote.

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I agree, I am just curious how people get over the fact that you cant read the notes as a journal as such, i.e. if you dont know what to search for and just want to review the last few days / weeks, you have to open each not one at a time?

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I agree, I am just curious how people get over the fact that you cant read the notes as a journal as such, i.e. if you dont know what to search for and just want to review the last few days / weeks, you have to open each not one at a time?

 

I search for "intitle:journal" (a saved search), I arrange the columns by title (side list view on the Mac), and my journals are arranged chronologically (I name them YYMMDD + keywords), so I just click through them. If they were all in one note, I'd have to scroll through them. The amount of effort is the same, but by separating them like this, I can manipulate the data more.

 

A search for "intitle:1208*" gives me all of the journal entries from this time last year. A search for "intitle:thursday" tells me what I have been doing every thursday. This is the kind of silly, but enjoyable stuff you can do. 

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... so I just click through them. If they were all in one note, I'd have to scroll through them. The amount of effort is the same ...

You don't even have to "click through them", just hit the up-arrow and down-arrow keys to jump instantly from one to the next, super fast and easy! (On the Windows client, at least ...)

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... so I just click through them. If they were all in one note, I'd have to scroll through them. The amount of effort is the same ...

You don't even have to "click through them", just hit the up-arrow and down-arrow keys to jump instantly from one to the next, super fast and easy! (On the Windows client, at least ...)

True. It works the same on the Mac client. And, you raise the important point that multiple notes opens up more possibilities for manipulating data. My "click" was meant to evoke the idea of a single action. A shortcut key, an arrow, or whatever is one action equivalent (in a sense) to the one action needed for scrolling.

I should have also said that if multiple notes don't end up being the OP's thing, they could always merge all of the notes into one later.

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Hi,

 

I left this for quite a while as the comments gathered. I thought I should comment to say thanks for all the input. It seems the best route is multiple notes within a notebook. I've realised the only reason I liked one big note was that I could continually scroll through it reading as I go. However this also has drawbacks. I'd actually now like a Kindle like system where I can swipe across the screen to move to the next note like reading a book I wrote myself while viewing it on my phone but that's another topic...

 

I have decided to go for the many notes approach with each one titled as follows:

 

YYYY-MM-DD - Day - Location

 

For Example...

 

2013-09-05 - Thursday - Glasgow

 

I normally take Journal style notes when trvelling and find it very difficult to remember to journal when at home. Although I have been trying it's a lot less common.

 

This system allows me to tag each note by country or put them in a separate notebook for Country or Year etc. I find that having individual notes makes it easier to quickly create a note on the desktop client or on my mobile and sort it later. It also provides the ability to be more creative within each note, add an image, or a ticket stub etc, something that will add to the memory of that day. Another benefit is that it removes the need to scroll for quite a few seconds through a note on your mobile to get to where you want and removes the fear of accidentally deleting a whole note! Lose one day instead of a year.

 

One other thing that swayed my decision was the discovery that I could remove the snippet layout that took up too much screen space for my liking (the snippet takes up about 3 or 4 lines). The realisation that I could set list view into a vertical column beside my notes worked much better for me enabling me to see the majority of my notes at a glance and quickly click through them. I can probably see 3 or 4 times more notes on the screen rather than with the snippet layout.

 

I'm sure there are many other benefits, geotagging, etc.

 

Thanks again for the input and hopefully the thread helps a few others plan their structure.

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Journal Stack -> 2013 notebook

                           2012 notebook

                           2011 notebook .. .... etc

 

Each entry i make on a seperate note, with the title, and i push it in the notebook. Now, i am using 2013 notebook. Scanned old paper stuff and put it in respective notebook. I also use Penultimate sometimes for handwriting journal entry. This also, i have mapped to 2013 notebook. So whether, i type my entry or use handwriting, it falls in the correct journal notebook.

 

 

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I follow the pattern of GrumpyMonkey for finding with search.

I prefer one note per day, with a consistent naming structure.

The app Everlog (iphone/ipad) really works well for me in this manner.

 

If you ever change your mind, it's easy to merge these notes into one per month, year etc, by selecting the multiple notes and using Evernote's merge function.

Going the other way on the other hand would be very tedious.  So it makes sense to me to start with one note per day.

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