Whoops, where’s the notepad? Those things I have to do are keeping me up! (Photo via GearFire)
Have you always felt like there were a lot of unfinished things on your mind just before going to bed?
You’re lying awake looking into the darkness above you, at the dimly lit ceiling and wondering, “What do I have to do tomorrow?” And you really, really wish you’d remember tomorrow morning to do it.
And then you think, “What if I forget?” And you really don’t want to get up again to do it. It was so warm and comfortable that you couldn’t imagine having to leave that again for your task list.
Well what if you could avoid getting up and still remember your tasks for tomorrow without the worry?
There are at least 3 easy ways to empty your head in 5 minutes or less — all it takes is some preparation before dream time.
I once knew a writer named Shaun Merritt who recorded all of his interviews for Spacing Magazine and other publications using the Voice Memos application on the iPhone. In fact while I worked at FoodCycles I recorded most of my “to do” items while surveying the field. It was easier then writing with dirt covered hands.
Human beings like the path of least resistance. Why fight it? Recording your action items as you talk about them is as easy as clicking the “Record” button (hands free, no hassle).
What are some good options?
Grab your iPhone using the built in Voice Memos application, a Sony ICD-SX700D Digital Voice Recorder (a pricey option — maybe you’re a sleepless journalist?) or Sony ICD-BX700 Digital Voice Recorder and leave it right beside your bed.
Using the iPhone gives you the most options for recording. Using the built in Voice Memos application (totally free and comes with the iPhone/iPod touch) you can get acceptable recording quality that uploads to your Mac or PC using iTunes (make sure you’ve checked the Preferences).
If you want to transcribe things yourself without having to upload them to the Internet first (see the next 2 options) then this option is okay. Of course the less work you have to do the better.
ReQall is a great audio app for the iPhone that focuses only on your action items (here’s a past review). Spend 5 minutes or less talking about each thing you have to do tomorrow and in 10 minutes you’ll have them all transcribed. You’re probably better off just going to sleep instead of waiting for the transcription (you’re tired from a long day right?).
The basic version is free (unlimited action items) and the quality is as good as the iPhone microphone gives you. The transcription quality is okay though likely not as good as Voice2Note (it seems to be computer only).
Another iPhone option is the Evernote Trunk service, Voice2Note. This friendly service that works with Evernote will turn any voice memos you record in Evernote into text (first 30 seconds max. using transcription people or software — maybe both). Its good for doing really long task lists and writing posts however it does have a monthly cost beyond 5 audio notes ($29.99 USD/year or $2.99 USD/month with unlimited notes with tagging). ReQall may give you more bang for your buck if you only want to record action items.
The upside is convenience while avoiding typing, blindly writing, spelling and grammar mistakes. The downside is that you’ll have to sit patiently and write out all your voice to dos later if it doesn’t automatically do the writing for you and the transcription quality won’t be perfect when you do have that (still easier than if you didn’t have it).
I used to type out all my action items while traveling on the subway using Notes (on the iPhone), then Evernote, then ReQall and then settling on Evernote. The iPhone made it easy and the subway trips were often enough to put me to sleep if there was nothing else I could do. So why not do some fast digital typing just before bed?
To be honest, the speediest and most convenient options for a bedtime note jotting session would be Notes on the iPhone and Evernote. All you have to do is start a new document and just write for 5 minutes. If you try to use task managers like ReQall (it does voice and it does writing) you’re better off just using voice recording because you may feel like trying to organize it right after your done.
Forget it. Go to sleep.
The upside is that if you use a computer program for task management like Omnifocus for example you can just upload, cut and paste it right into the system. The only downside is that you may be in no mood to type on a small keyboard while you’re lying in bed trying to shut off your brain. Talking almost seems easier.
Surprisingly, there’s a gal named Rebecca Enzor whose love of sticky notes is second to none. I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world who might like sticky notes more than her (then again it might just be she ranks higher in Google for “sticky notes story“).
To dump all of your action items before bed on the sticky note is easy though less easy than the voice memos in some ways. You’ll need to have an extra sticky note pad (classic or fancy ones), a good pen and a little reading light.
If you have an iPhone you can turn that on as your light source (just switch it to Airplane Mode to avoid radiation to your brain if you worry about that – take no chances). When you’re done just stick the note on your well beside the bed, the alarm clock, etc. When you wake up in the morning you can toss it in your inbox or spare a few minutes to type it or write it into your task manager or day planner.
The upside is that it’s a “can’t miss” thing on your wall that’s out of place and gets your attention. The downside is that unless your eyes are sharp and your little bed side light source is decent you’ll be writing some pretty messy notes in 5 minutes or less. You may have to type out or write out everything again in your task manager or day planner the next morning.
So you’ve now learned of 3 quick ways to empty your head of “to dos” before you fall asleep in 5 minutes or less using voice recording, your smartphone or the classic sticky notes set right beside your pillow. The beauty of doing this is you’ll feel less weighed down, your sleep will be more relaxing and your subconscious brain might actually give you better creative ideas with less interference. Can you go wrong with that?
PS. Maybe you’ve got another interesting iPhone app or suggestion on how to get your head clear of “to dos” just before bed (and under 5)? Drop me a line!Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.