Input comes at us in the most random ways. Someone stops us in the hall. A great idea occurs while standing in line at the bank. Your cell phone rings when you’re in the back seat of a taxi. In these moments, how will you trap the to-dos and good ideas?

Note-taking by phone

We love our mobile devices, but input has always been the weakness. We tried writing with a stylus using special characters (the Palm). We tried typing on a mouse-sized keyboard (Blackberry). Now, we type with two thumbs on a piece of glass.

All the while, voice input has been improving. If you are an iPhone user, you are familiar with Siri. Android users have Google Assistant. Our phones are always with us. Many of us keep our task lists digitally. For us, the ability to enter those tasks straight to the list is a huge time saver.

For iPhone users

I recommend Toodledo (Toodledo.com) for those who want a digital task list.

After creating a Toodledo account, download and log into the mobile app. Inside the Toodledo app, tap “Settings.” Select “Reminders Syncing.” Then, turn on importing from the Reminder’s app.

Everything you add to Reminders will be automatically added to Toodledo as well.

Use the Siri command “Remind me to …” or “Remember to …” and the resulting tasks goes to Reminders and Toodledo. If the tasks are not importing, go into Apple’s Settings app. Tap “Privacy” and then “Reminders.” Make sure that the switch is turned on for Toodledo.

For Android users

After creating a Toodledo account, download the mobile app and log in. To use Google Assistant in conjunction with Toodledo, the command is “Note to self.”

For example, you might say, “OK Google … Note to self … Get dog food.” The first time you use this command, the device will prompt you with several places you can send this “note to self.” Depending on what apps are loaded on your device, you will likely see Gmail or Evernote as options. If you have downloaded the Toodledo app, Toodledo will appear as one of your options. Select it. Google Assistant will remember your choice for the future.

Carry a memo pad

I love adding tasks to my phone via voice. In fact, you can dictate any text into your mobile device. But you can’t always pull out your phone.

When you pull out your phone during the sermon at church, your neighbor will assume you are responding to email, even though what you are really doing is taking notes on the sermon. Pull out a paper memo pad. Your neighbor will assume you are taking notes on the sermon, even though you are actually adding to your grocery list.

For even the most digital among us, a memo pad in the pocket is a must. When the coworker stops you in the hall, you can write on the memo pad and listen at the same time. Interrupting your colleague in mid-sentence to talk into your phone isn’t an option. Keying the text into your phone is no less awkward. Your eye contact is with the device rather than the coworker.

You can, however, listen and take notes on paper. It’s something we are comfortable with doing. It’s socially acceptable. It’s something we can do in real time, so that when the conversation is over, the note-taking is also over.

Between voice input into your phone and a memo pad in your pocket, you become the master of taking “notes on the fly.” It’s too easy not to do.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders and was named to “Global Gurus Top 30” for 2017 and 2018 in the time management category. He speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach Dr. Buck through his website: FrankBuck.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.

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