How to catalogue notes/ideas?

I end up in many meetings where I take lots of notes or come up with ideas that I may want to explore in the future.

What I really want to do is make these ideas searchable. So I naturally think I have to get them on a computer so I can search for ideas on keywords, or dates, or certain topics.

I considered just an Excel spreadsheet, or something in Word, so it'd be simple. But I end up in multiple office locations on multiple computers, so I didn't want to have to keep emailing the files to myself etc.

What I have ended up with is a Gmail email address where I send myself emails where the Subject is the idea title, then whatever level of detail I have in the body of the message and then throw in keywords or how I'll want to classify it. I later on will apply labels to the email.

Anyone have any improvements/suggestions on this?

As with any system, it's only as good as my level of commitment to it, and that isn't very consistent. I'm hoping to schedule 2 or three times a week where I'll catalogue all my ideas.

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ideas section

I actually started keeping an "ideas" section in my planner because there have been multiple times I've had a really cool idea, forgot it, and later remembered when I saw the idea implemented as a successful product. Sorry, I can't remember which ones. I didn't write it down :-(

If you want to do it in electronic format, there are a couple good options. For Mac users, check out the free program Journler - I used it for 4 months to track my last job hunt. I searched long and hard to find something similar for Windows that worked well. The only one I found that I liked was EverNote - which has a free version!

And now - some really good news. If you want to access your ideas & notes online and have a gmail account, you already should have access to what may be the best tool for your situation: Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Login to your gmail account and go to You can type up documents and spreadsheets and then assign tags or star the items to flag the important ones.


Google Notebook too!

And actually, Google has what may be an even better online tool for notes and ideas-- Google Notebook.

They even have a nifty extension for Firefox that makes its use seamless.

And if you prefer something else, there's Stikkit

A couple other ideas for the curious.... Although I'm personally warming up to the idea of using Gmail. :-)


too late

I was just coming over here to suggest Google Notebook, but you beat me to it! Gmail is a good idea too.

Gmail is searchable

Because gmail is searchable, you may be able to skip the 'apply labels' step - just search the whole inbox for the keywords you've already embedded in the email.

great idea - using a separate gmail account as an idea bank! thanks!