A “vibrant mental landscape”…?

Some people are amused by this phrase and ask me where it came from. Actually, it was created by my friend Anjan while he was ad-libbing about Revunote to camera in a friend’s garden (we’ve had a lot of summer rain and the garden was looking quite lush). The phrase stuck and fits very well with what Revunote is, as does the whole metaphor of cultivation.

When I was a kid a hostage negotiator called Terry Waite was himself taken hostage in Lebanon and held captive, mostly in solitary confinement, for almost 5yrs. On his release, I remember reading about how he had stayed sane during this time:

“With no access to books, television, radio or any other outside stimuli [...] his only hope of staying sane was to embark on what he called an inward journey. Fabulously well-read, he rehearsed and explored the wealth of knowledge, insights and information stored in his mind [emphasis added]

Now, the chances of being kidnapped and having nothing but your own mind to keep you company are pretty slim but I remember that story to this day because it always made me think…on a day to day basis, is my mind a passenger or a companion?

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The third way to use Evernote

I’ve been an avid user of Evernote for some time now. I’ve noticed that I have several distinct uses for it, some that I have in common with others I have persuaded to use it and one use that is almost unique and, in my opinion, vital. So what are these categories of use? They are:

  • Managing my time
  • Storing useful tidbits of information
  • Learning

In the first category, managing my time, I find Evernote immensely useful for keeping lists of things I need to do – mostly related to projects I am engaged on – some personal, some professional. The check boxes come in handy here as I can bullet point the things I need to do, and then tick them off when I’ve done them. I also keep tables of numbers related to goals I have – for example, my time to run round the park or how many push ups I did. I used to use Task Merlin for all this, but I find Evernote does the job quite well.

In the second category are things I found useful at some point and will probably need again, but I don’t want to cram up my head with them. An example would be my microphone settings for Camtasia, the menu for the local Chinese takeaway or my Mum’s recipe for Paella. I am a software engineer and I tend to note down solutions I find for problems in this way too. Some people go even further in this category, aiming for a paperless environment and store their bills etc… A colleague of mine captures all their expense receipts this way and shares them with his accountant.

The third category ‘learning’ is, for me, the most important. A lot of people use Evernote to store notes of stuff they are learning and clips of things they find interesting or are using for research. I used to use Personal Brain, but I switched to Evernote (and I am still migrating information!) because Evernote allows me to do spaced repetition. I am an avid learner but I far too often found that I would read something interesting and, a week later, remember very little. Over time, that is an enourmous amount of knowledge I could have accumulated but didn’t. It got frustrating. Which is why I created Revunote. Since then I’ve used Revunote with Evernote to help me learn poems, the words to songs, applications of Tai Chi and contemporary dance routines, technical aspects of software engineering, business analysis and management (books like ‘The Lean Startup’ and ‘Business Model Canvas’ are fresh in my mind). The movies that I have watched recently are also much more vivid to me.

Yeah, it takes some discipline, but Revunote with Evernote makes it much easier and the alternative is an endless series of vaguely remembered encounters.

 

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Joshua Foer: We are the sum of our memories

Joshua Foer (jounalist, mnemonist, winner of the 2006 USA Memory Championship, author of Moonwalking with Einstein) recently gave a TED Talk explaining that, once upon a time, the idea of having a trained, cultivated memory was commonplace; the great orators would give their speeches from memory. Then we invented writing and, eventually, the internet and no longer have a great need to memorise. However, his view is that our lives are the sum of our memories. He explains that amazing feats of memory are actually the culmination of technique and practice – like the ability to use the ‘memory palace’. Most of these techniques boil down to what psychologists call ‘elaborative encoding’… the ability to make material memorable.

These techniques compliment Revunote. These are the kinds of techniques that you need to use to actually learn material in the first place. Foer points out that these are not shortcuts, that memorising takes effort, that it requires a kind of mindfulness counter to our usual in-one-ear, out-the-other experience. Revunote with Evernote helps you focus on the things you are learning and then helps drive a review process that helps cement that memory into place.

 

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Revunote for Android is released!

Revunote v1.5.0 is now available on Google Play as a fledgling member of the Evernote eco-system. Revunote works with Evernote to help you learn things off by heart using the proven principles of ‘active review’ and ‘spaced repetition’. Some things are more useful in your head than they are in the cloud.

Features:

  • Displays all your notes for review in one place
  • Touch to open notes in Evernote
  • Swipe to indicate review done
  • Re-presents notes for review at scheduled intervals (1, 3, 7, 14, 30, 60 days)
  • Synchronises with your Evernote account
  • Creates a review tag in your evernote account or synchronises with it if it already exist
  • Free to trial. Re-install after expiry or be kind and purchase the key

 

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