Ditching My 3-Ring Binder

Posted on November 15, 2010 by Aaron Ortega

Everywhere I go I carry my bag.  Inside of it I tote around a 3 ring binder, for keeping up with project notes, a moleskin notepad, pens, headphones and Zyrtec. (nerd allergies…)

I manage most of the projects here at Umbrella.  As the company grows, so does this notebook.  This weekend I reached a fork in the road.  Either I can keep cramming dividers and papers into this thing, or I can give the digital route a shot.

I have an iPad, so this weekend I looked around for a good note taking or project management app.  I almost turned around here.  The number of apps was overwhelming.  I decided to take it one app at a time.


Weeks ago I downloaded Outpost.  Outpost is an app that integrates with Basecamp, the project management tool that we use.  I was hoping it would be this simple.  I was hoping I would get my $20 out of this app.  It could have happeneed, but I couldn’t get over how Outpost handles projects.  It just seems clunky.  On top of that, I really want my notes to be private.  I don’t want to have to mark my threads as private, same with my file uploads.


I tried out Things & Bento back to back. I need more than To-Do lists and calendar reminders.  And I need way less than database structures.  Plus we already have to-do lists in Basecamp, so have two to-do lists just ends up being a pain.  Like many reviews I have read, all of these “project managers” either come up short in the feature department or are way too bloated.


I ended up using Evernote.  I am not entirely happy with it, but it is the closest to what I want.  It allows offline storage for my Wifi Only iPad, attach documents and pictures to notes, record notes, and separates notes into different projects/notebooks.  Of course, in order to get full featured functionality I had to pay for the yearly membership.  The price point isn’t bad, and it is certainly worth paying for the effort of getting better organized.

It is also nice that it syncs with my Mac and iPhone, but honestly, I would rather do everything on the iPad and not have to mess around with anything else.  Unfortunately the iPad app is not as near feature rich as the desktop client.

My Wish List


It would be really great if I could write in Evernote with a stylus.  I still don’t feel quite right pulling out my iPad in meetings and typing.  It would at least “feel” a little more acceptable to be writing on the tablet. Maybe that’s just me.

To-Do list Sync

I use To-Do lists in Basecamp.  What would be great is if I could import in those into an app, from Basecamp and other to-do list managers.  When I check it off, it would sync and be done and over.


I scanned in all of my notes today and retired the binder.  I don’t know how long it will last or how well it will work.  At least my bag is lighter!

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