Trying to find the right productivity apps to use gets a lot easier if you give up the illusion that there is something out there that will do everything you want it to do perfectly.
Apps that are outstanding in some ways will almost always have issues that bug you. The trick is to see if you can live with the limitations and incorporate those killer features into your workflow.
You don’t have to use any app in the way that you are supposed to. Occasionally, it is worth adopting software just for one or two features, even if it means you use only a fraction of its capabilities. If you shift your focus in this way, your horizons will expand.
First, what is it you are trying to do? Getting specific about this is essential.
Second, how well will this app integrate with the rest of your workflow?
Take notes, for example. Taking notes is one thing, but storing, organising, sharing and collaborating on them is pretty complex and different apps approach these functions in different ways.
Today, I am here to tell you about an app that does one thing well. It is called Mem and, for me, it has note-taking down pat. It does a lot more than that, though (see here for a short overview).
Let me be clear. I have been using Mem for the past few months to capture information, nothing else. That is because I already have solutions that I am happy with for the other steps in my workflow.
Quickly getting an interesting thought down, taking meeting notes or making a note of something on the web are things I use Mem for. Whatever kind of input I need to pin down, Mem does it better than anything I’ve used before. Here are the things I like about it.
It is fast and easy to use.
Mem is always ready, even when the app isn’t open. When you install the software, you install the Mem widget in your menu bar. Whenever you find anything you want to capture, just hit the keyboard shortcut and Mem springs into action.
It works everywhere. If you’re on a webpage, you can grab the link. If you’re in a text message or email, you’ll capture the text you have highlighted. It’s lightning-fast and reliable. Everything you capture appears, in chronological order, on your timeline within the app interface. Instantly.
You can text in your thoughts.
You can set up a Telegram bot, use WhatsApp or SMS, and send a message whenever something pops into your head. Within a minute or two, it’ll appear on your timeline. I love this feature and use it all the time.
If you want to get some ideas down, open the app and write. Yes, you can add hashtags to notes, share them with other people and all of those things, but that’s not what I do. I want to capture stuff, that’s it. Oh, and Mem supports markdown too.
At the top of my timeline, I can see all the events from my Google calendar. Click on a calendar event and a note is created for me, with the details already embedded. It is a great way to take notes in a meeting. Mem pulls the attendee details through, and I can even send my notes to them all with one click if I want to.
The interface is spotless and elegant. As soon as you start writing a note, everything else melts away, and you have a blank canvas. It looks beautiful.
At the end of every day, I go through my timeline and organise the things I have captured. I don’t leave anything in Mem, approaching it just like my email inbox and emptying it at the end of every day.
Of course, you might choose to use the software differently, as a place to keep all your notes more permanently. There are already good tools within the software that helps to keep your information organised and contextual.
The software is in the early stages (currently a free beta with a waitlist). Even though I am only using a fraction of Mem’s capability, it does what I need. I am hopeful the developers recognise how good the capture experience is and build on that. Even if it stays the same as it is now, I can see myself using this software for years to come. I recommend you take it for a spin.