Context: STEM students sometimes need to take hand writing/drawing like diagrams in physics, chemical formulas, etc.
In my case, I don't mind paying the subscription fee (let's say about $7.5/month (for academics) expected for Roam Research). I think the benefits of using these apps efficiently far outweigh the cost. So please let me know what is your setup, links to articles, videos that I can read and watch to learn more about the programs. Thanks!
I'm thinking of:
1. OneNote for handwriting courses.
2. Google Keep for on the fly ideas.
3. RoamResearch for everything else.
Task management/Todo list app:
1. Woven Calendar
A few thoughts, but first some context: I had to use paper because that's all that there was back in the 1970s, when I was at college. The downside is really my own habits: I was bright enough that I'd never needed to study; never learned how to review, to discipline myself to spend time on homework and review rather than (card) games and music. All the tools in the world (and in the world yet to come) might not have helped me.
Since then, however, I continue to take classes, attend conferences and take notes, often nearly verbatim.
Ah, let me add that I'm left-handed, with nearly illegible cursive handwriting: I switched to "printed" writing 50 years ago.
So you have really two—no, three actions you probably need to do across all your classes: capture information; organize and review information; and share information with others. Then around all these things, you need to schedule time and remember what to do. (As I consider these things, I'm remembering my own years at MIT in the early 1970s; for all I know, none of this applies in a modern STEM school, and they could beam it into your brain through a direct connection.)
This involves taking the vast bandwidth of lecture and presentation and reducing it to your summary or copy of it. You have to review it to digest it, so paper works here, and is fast enough and single-tool-versatile enough to capture text, your reactions, drawings, equations, and the like. Supplement it with your camera for things too complex to grab.
Ah. Classes have changed. Everything's online. All the better, perhaps. Get out your phone, and use Google's Recorder app to record and transcribe the lecture. Or use otter.ai (or otter.ai on the web) to create editable transcripts.
But the proponents of the Zettlekasten method (S. Ahrens (2017): How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking - for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) suggest that using handwritten notes to summarize and extract highlights from what you hear is best. They may be right, but having the transcripts to work from might be helpful, whether automated (with a few errors to correct) or your own (with a few gaps as you lose focus).
I have also used Lecture Notes on an Android tablet, and still have the originals and the PDF renderings. I am transcribing them bit by bit into RoamResearch. This does not use OCR, which might have given me better notes, more freedom to annotate, highlight, etc.
In short, use whatever you need to capture the information, as much as you deem necessary, before it rolls away on the stream of time.
Here, you need to be able to recall and cross-reference information. I was using Notion before I stumbled upon Roam, and it was a great choice. They have improved their search features and their speed. I still use it for sharing information and collaborating with others. (I have fought with OneNote out of unfamiliarity, but am willing to take a look again based on your plans to use it, since it is a standard where I work now.) If wiki-like linking is part of OneNote, by all means go with it, but remember to curate and tend this garden of memories.
One thought for STEM studies: Roam and Notion (at least) support LaTeX equations. If you grow to be fluent in LaTeX, you may be able to jot down equations in LaTeX when capturing information in some tool. If not, you may want to encode them in your long-term memory in LaTeX, so you will want something that can do that. As of May 2020, it seems OneNote is a little weak in that (it probably has an equation editor or the like, but you may want more).
For this, I use Notion, because I can make a page or set of pages public in a click, or invite friends to collaborate (comment upon or edit) something more than just the paragraphs of (say) Google Docs. I can also export pages to PDFs to send around at work. It's astounding how often making something public becomes useful.
For this, you already have Todoist and Woven Calendar mentioned. Roam has benefits for its
TODO feature, because you can put them anywhere; the down side is that there's no timer to alert you, and you have to be disciplined to look at your TODOs occasionally. Between task managers and calendars, I finally became more-or-less reliable with the help of the smartphone.
To your point: I use TODOs in Google Task Manager, Google Keep, Google Assistant Reminders, and Notion, as need be. I have other reminders triggered in some Basecamp groups I work with. Time and I have long been enemies, so I have to use all the tools I can to remember to do things, and once reminded, to do them.
I note that Woven is not yet available on Android (according to their page and the Play Store). That may be a small issue for you, if you are using Woven to federate several calendars, some of which might be unavailable on your device. (Yes, you may not want or be allowed to access an employer's calendar on a personal device. I have two phones, one from my employer, and it is an embarrassment to still miss meetings because I don't carry both all the time.) Many tools I could recommend from experience are no longer available, having appeared on the market 30 years ago.
I have literally tried a bunch of apps (Trello, Asana, Jira, etc.). The best optimization has been Notion (for both personal and projects). Also spending some time on adding some optimization to your Google Calendar can go a long way. So a combination of Google Calendar and Notion can take you a long way.
Note-taking: Google Keep for on the fly ideas.
Task management/Todo list app: Workflowy
Calendar: Google Calendar
Since you mentioned Windows, OneNote is the first app I thought of if you want something that does everything in one. OneNote's paper-like notes make it easy to write notes if you're using a tablet and pen, and its OCR tools are great for pulling text out of handwriting and images which is a nice advantage. It also has a built-in calendar tool and can make to-do lists, with reminders.
Notion's the next closest competitor for an all-in-one app, again with notes, tasks, calendar, and reminders—albeit without drawing or pen support. Agenda is an interesting alternative that's built around notes with dates for a hybrid notes/tasks/calendar system, though it's Mac and iOS only so wouldn't fit here.
Otherwise, if you want best-in-class apps for each part of your workflow, the tools you listed could each be great options. For markdown writing when offline (or just for focused writing and simple plain-text notes), iA Writer is fantastic and has apps for every platform. Then the apps in this discussion about personal productivity tools might be helpful too.
Notion for note taking is top notch and has a lot of useful collaboration tools that can help with study groups, shared notes, etc. For calendar organization Google calendar should work well. As a former stem student I also loved being able to draw out my problem sets, so I think OneNote has some great features, though tough without a tablet
I would have to go with OneNote. It ticks a lot of your boxes and there's no reason you couldn't use it for task management.
I'm pretty sure it's also available on Android making it easy to keep phone and laptop in sync.
It's a winner and easy to use.
I just started using Notion (https://www.notion.so) a few weeks ago and I'm finding it flexible enough for pretty much everything you described.
Because it's designed to be customized for both standard uses like task lists, project management, link and file storage, etc. and completely unique situations it's quickly becoming my do-everything app.
Personal use is free, professional use is cheap at $10/mo. but you probably don't need to go pro.
The community is amazing and there are tons of templates you can use to get started quickly. It's really worth checking out.
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