I’m pretty comfortable with Things on my desktop and Things Touch on my iPhone. It’s working well for keeping track of non-work related tasks. But I often have vague ideas for things I’d like to look at or do or learn or read. Sometimes it’s thoughts that I’d rather not put on Twitter for various reasons, sometimes it’s images that I want to keep at hand, and sometimes it’s URLs that I don’t want to keep in Instapaper because I want to keep that clean with just stuff that I want to read soon as soon as I have time with no other preconditions. For the notes, I’ve been using a Moleskine . For the URLs, I’ve been using a weird mix of Instapaper and sometimes Things’ “Someday” section. For the kind of vague task-related things that don’t actually have any real concrete tasks, I’ve been using Things’ “Someday” as well. None of this was really working for me. I felt disorganized and when I compared it to my task handling it seemed completely unmanageable.
I gave Evernote a try but I find the capture process cumbersome. The iPhone app is slow and requires too much information input. The desktop app is even worse— if I drag a URL onto its dock icon from my browser, the whole app just sits there for a while, giving no indication that it’s even doing anything. Eventually the URL pops up as a new item and it’s downloaded an entire copy of that page— a nice feature, but not something I generally want.
Next I looked at Yojimbo, which is a much more promising desktop client. The capture is simple and fast and responsive. If I had to be picky I’d say that the application could use a new coat of paint, but overall I like it. The only problem is lack of an iPhone client. There’s a thing called Webjimbo that basically sets up a minihttpd on your computer, from what I can tell from reading about it, and it even has a special formatting for when you visit it on your iPhone, but that requires a good internet connection at home (which I don’t have) and it also seems to be more focused on retrieving information. When it comes to mobile use, I’m vastly more interested in capture than retrieval. By the time I want to retrieve something it’s generally materialized into a Google Doc or something of that sort.
So I thought about it some more and I decided I could use Gmail for the intermediate step of capturing while I’m not at home. I set up a custom filter so that when I send an email to myself with a particular format it automatically moved the email into a separate label, out of the inbox, where it could sit until I get home without worrying about it. At that point I could move the day’s captures out of Gmail and into Yojimbo. This system was working pretty well until one day when I had put a lot of stuff into Gmail during the day and moving it from Gmail to Yojimbo started feeling like a huge chore. I was sitting there thinking to myself “Why am I putting this in Yojimbo? It’s already in a searchable bucket.” For a week or so, I was thinking that maybe Gmail should be where I put everything. But being able to add things when I’m on my iMac with Yojimbo by dragging and dropping on the dock icon is really nice, as is the hotkey for autofilling a new item based on what’s on my clipboard. The other thing, which I think is bigger than I realize, is that the process of reviewing things by taking them out of Gmail and putting them into Yojimbo is helpful.
The only hard thing to stomach is the $40 price tag. I think I’m probably halfway between the people who will read this who would think that paying that much for this is ridiculous and people who think that questioning charging for this software is ridiculous. I just can’t find any free alternatives that match the speed and simplicity of this app, and I have felt considerably more “together” this month as I’ve been using the trial and capturing over 50 things that I would otherwise not know how to catalog.