Awesome Note is a visually stimulating full-service action item and non-standardized calendar application which I use to manage my life. If you snuck a peak at my iPad at any time of the day, this is what you would most likely see on the screen.
First, let's talk about what Awesome Note doesn't do. It doesn't integrate with other calendar applications using the calDEV standard (things like Google Calendar, Outlook, etc.). The reason I have not selected a calDEV application is because the only cloud sync calendar available for free* is Google Calendar, and Google Calendar is in beta. It is not reliable. Put in a repeating appointment on Tuesdays and have it show up on Wednesday or put in an item at 5PM and have it show up at 6PM; these are things which have happened to me.
In return for giving up calDAV (which was going to have problems no matter what), what I get is full integration with Evernote. This allows me to be very close to the most important thing in electronic document management: having a Single Source of the Truth. By searching in Evernote, I can find everything else I have saved into Evernote in addition to what is in Awesome Note. If you have been meticulous about keeping everything in Evernote (and I have been!), this gives you one place to find every document and idea you have recorded about any subject. This is Fortune 500 level information management, and it is now available to every individual with $5.00 a month to spend on Evernote. Awesome Note just takes that information and makes it even more useful and way more awesome looking. Here is how the Awesome Note data looks in Evernote (my chicken-scratch privacy marks make it look even uglier than the ugly that it is):
AwesomeNote isn't the only iPad app for action items that integrates with Evernote, but it is the one which meets my needs the best. I was looking for something simple. Because of how Awesome Note presents information, it is the easiest to use if you don't want to create an indivdual item for each and every action. For most projects, I create just one note with the Next Action as the name of the note. The rest of the project is listed in the note itself. If I have a complex project that I would like to calendar out, I can make a folder for my project and divide up my actions into individual notes. By creating contexts and tagging the note (e.g., @errands) and using the search function on Awesome Note, I have a fully functioning Getting Things Done system.**
As a calendar***, Awesome Note allows a created date, a due date, and an alarm. The items shows up in calendar view on the created date if there is no due date (for example, meeting notes or a to do without a due date set) or if it is an action with a due date it shows up on the due date. When you open the list for the folder and sort it by date, the dated items show up first, then the undated actions, and the completed actions at the end (a lot of actions I just delete rather than mark completed, others can be group-searched in Evernote and moved into an archive folder in Evernote periodically). The date requires a time, which means that Awesome Note can be used as a fully functioning daily agenda calendar. The downside to this is that you have to put in a time even if you don't know it. If it is an event where the time was in question, I tend to write something about the time inside the note so that I know that I truly have the event time (or don't). Also, only a start time is provided; if you want an end time you have to write it into the note. Awesome Note does allow for repeating appointments, though you have to set them up in the form of a task and only the current iteration shows up on the calendar. I have made it a practice to set the items as a calendar and just re-schedule my repeating appointments during my weekly review.
You can create and edit items in Evernote and sync the edits back to Awesome Note. I add Evernote items (for example, scanned event fliers or saved emails that I want to turn into calendar items) to the Awesome Note "in box" to prompt me to format and organize them in Awesome Note the next time I sync. This also means that if you sync regularly your Awesome Note information is available everywhere and on every device simply by looking in Evernote.
Awesome Note also makes a wonderful diary or even a scrapbook. I use Olive Tree for my daily Bible reading, which has a verse selector allowing the reader to easily bring Bible verses over to my Awesome Note diary. Another user reports using it to keep photo journals for her small children. You can include items such as web clipping and photographs in notes. Check out the Awesome Note web site for some screen shots. You can also lock individual folders for added privacy (downside: notes in locked folders will not show up in all notes).
In Awesome Note, you can set the color of each folder and how the notes look and how they are ordered. Each folder retains its settings and looks the same the next time you open it. You can also set a default template note for each folder, and a default view for the folder. Above is how I have set up my standard All Notes view. Most of the day, this is what I'm looking at on my iPad. Below are a couple of other folder views.
I usually use the longways view because it maximizes the folder and item lists that can be seen. Turn the iPad sideways and you can see indivdual notes next to the note list for a folder. This is convenient for flipping through the notes quickly.
Or in the previous orientation the note just opens over the list.
Awesome Note doesn't have a PC or Mac package, but you can edit the notes in Evernote and sync them back into Awesome Note. You can also create notes in Evernote inside the Awesome Note folders and they will show up in Awesome Note after you sync.
There are three other programs I use to round out my life management system:
- iThoughtsHD. I never was a mindmapping person before, but the mindmap is a perfect fit with the iPad. iThoughts exports in its format, into a standard mindmap format, into PDF, and into text outline. It syncs with Box.net (free). It is great for high-level "40,000 ft" life planning. Or low level planning: I have my packing list on a mind map.
- BugMe! I've used BugMe since the days of Palm Pilots. It is great for short-term notes. For example: You are writing an email and get a call which gives you an action item for immediately after the email. You don't want to forget, so you make a quick BugMe note and maybe set a five minute reminder.
- Timer+. Allows you to see multiple countdown timers. Think Thanksgiving dinner prep.
And there you have it: the life of loafingcactus on the iPad!
*There are rumors that Apple's me.com may be free by the end of 2011. I have no information or opinion about the validity of those rumors.
**After I wrote this post Awesome Note added tags and progress status options. The tags do not sync into Evernote tags. I see this as a feature because I don't want these tags mucking up my Evernote tags, but other GTD users probably will not agree. You can still search by tag in Evernote because the tag name is in the note. They also added view selections such as "Today" inside a list without the calendar present on the screen. This takes the GTD functionality to an entirely new level.
**The calendar builds when you open it. So if you then change items under the calendar, you won't see the changes on the calendar until you close and re-open it (click the calendar button twice).