Do you ever feel like you’re being overrun with post-its? I do. They have managed to overrun both my desk at work and my one at home. Besides the post-its, there’s notebook paper everywhere (some of which I can’t even remember scribbling on), and trying to find a pen is like buying a lottery ticket; you just can’t win. If you haven’t noticed, I’m disorganized (but I’ve heard the first step towards recovery is acknowledging you have a problem). With that, I asked my friends what they do to keep their desktops organized, and I found that a few of them rarely put any paper on their physical desktops. They use everything from their iPhone to their laptop to take notes, and could organize them or read them across all of their devices.

Two note-taking services seemed to be most popular: OneNote and Evernote. Seeing as I had used note-taking applications in the past, I prepared myself for disappointment (too many of these applications lacked the same comfortable familiarity of a notebook). But, my friends walked me through them and they (Evernote and OneNote) seemed to be both well-designed and practical enough for actual note-taking. Here’s what I found.

Evernote: The Elephant in the Room

Very few note-taking apps have the same visual appeal as Evernote. Pair an elephant with soothing tones of grey and green, and you end up with a pretty aesthetically pleasing application. By now, pretty much everyone has heard of Evernote, but, if you’re like me, you’re still wondering what practical applications the app has. It has a multitude of features that makes it a useful tool to have in your back pocket. While their application may be welcoming, their slogan, “Remember Everything,” seems a little too demanding (that’s a lot of information!). But with Evernote, you certainly may be able to “Remember More Things.”

  • Take notes and organize them into individual notebooks to keep everything organized.
  • Scan Post-It Notes, documents and business cards to reduce physical desktop clutter.
  • Evernote can process your handwriting thereby making all of your scanned notes searchable within the application.
  • Sync Evernote between devices so that you can have all your notes whenever you want, wherever you want. No more wishing you had taken that notebook with you.
  • Share your notes and notebooks with others on your team in order to keep everyone constantly up to date. Or connect Evernote to UberConference to get a summary of who participated as well as links to shared notes.

OneNote: A More Traditional Feel

For all of Evernote’s bells and whistles, it does not have the same comfortable familiarity of a notebook. Enter OneNote, Microsoft’s fairly impressive response to Evernote. It is barebones, like a notebook, and has all the features necessary to integrate seamlessly with the rest of your Microsoft applications. Here’s how it compares.

  • Like Evernote, OneNote can be synced across all of your devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop) and can be used to collaborate with others.
  • Create notebooks to organize all of your information.
  • Unlike Evernote, you can work hand-in-hand with your documents, presentations and spreadsheets in Microsoft Office. You can write all over those pesky Excel spreadsheets to your heart’s content.
  • Create tables within your notebook to make lists easier to read, because lists are easier to read in tables (especially when you can check stuff off).

So, which one do we suggest? It really seems like a personal preference. Office users, or those who prefer the traditional feel of a notebook, will probably gravitate towards OneNote, while those looking for functions beyond note taking may prefer Evernote. The most important thing is finding the solution that works best for you.

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