I’ve always wanted an efficient way to take hand-drawn mind maps and store them in the cloud so I could access them from anywhere using any computer, iPad or smart phone.
First, with respects to Simon Sinek’s, Start With Why, let’s start with “why”.
My “why” is that I’m a big believer in “pile” rather than “file” for storing information I want to retrieve at a later date.
Under the “pile” method, I dump all the stuff I want to find later in one big “pile.” I make sure the documents, photos, audio files, spreadsheets, mind-maps, etc. contain words in their file name or in the document’s content that will allow me to retrieve that information later using a global text search tool.
“Filing” on the other hand, forces me to make decisions about where the information will be stored in the filing system. For example, do I file the receipt for my car insurance under, “Insurance”, “Car”, “Auto”, “November”, “Transportation”, etc.?
I don’t have the time or the discipline to make those decisions on a consistent basis. So, I just send all the information I think I might want to retrieve to a “piling system” rather than a “filing system.” The secret to a successful “piling system” is twofold. First, select one and only one “pile” as your single source of truth. Searching multiple “piles” defeats the purpose. And two, find a commercial grade global text search tool that works with your “pile” and finds what you want fast.
So if you buy my why here’s the “what”: LiveScribe and Evernote complete my “piling system”. I use LiveScribe’s new Echo smartpen to take notes in a moleskin-like notebook whose pages are filed with micro-dots. The dots are so micro, that it’s difficult to see them unless you look really hard. This means they don’t distract me. The pages also contain some special controls that start and stop the smartpen’s audio recorder. I have the Echo model with 4GB of memory, which records 400 hours of audio. If want 800 hours, LiveScribe makes an 8Gb model, but 400 hours of recording gives more than me ADD mind can absorb.
I’ve also become a raving fan of Evernote. It is the nucleus of my “piling system.” I add Word documents, PDFs, photos of white boards, mind-maps, scanned receipts, you name it and Evernote finds it faster than a Golden Retriever brings back a tennis ball. Evernote is a “cloud” application, in that it stores stuff on my local hard-disk (for access when I’m on an airplane, like right now), it also sends a copy to its secure cloud where I’ve instructed it to sync with my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro. I can also access my stored stuff from an Internet Cafe in Botswana using a web browser. Evernote makes my information available whenever I want it from wherever I happen to be.
Now to “how” I benefit from this system . . . to prepare this blog post I took out my LiveScribe notebook and Echo smartpen and created the mind-map you see at the top of this post. (If you click on the mind-map twice, you can make it larger and easier to read.) I connected the Echo smartpen to my Windows PC using a USB cable and transferred the mind-map to my computer’s hard-disk. Within the LiveScribe software I named the mind-map “LiveScribe to Evernote” and transferred the image to Evernote with just one click. Finally I searched Evernote for “LiveScribe” and uploaded the mind-map image to my blog.
LiveScribe and Evernote complete my “piling system”!