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My PocketPC Recording Voice Notes “Dictaphone Style” Epiphany!

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  • My PocketPC Recording Voice Notes “Dictaphone Style” Epiphany!

    It’s funny how you get stuck in a particular working method, then you try something new and it’s like WOW! - Why didn’t I think of this before?

    I’ve been using GTD since autumn last year, with Outlook on PC synchronised to my PocketPC (Qtek9100/HTC Wizard).

    Most of the “note capture phase” when out and about was a combination of the following:

    ~ Notes written onto index cards, then stored in my Moleskine Memo Pocket (mini accordion folder used as a mini portable inbox/wallet)

    ~ Notes written in my “Note Taker Wallet” style flip-notebook

    ~ Notes typed into the PocketPC.

    Everything was running great – no complaints – the system running about as “transparent” as it could be. Or so I thought!

    Then about 2 weeks ago I read an interview with David Allen on the Technology Review site:

    He was asked, “What would a truly useful kind of personal-organizer technology look like to you?”

    He answered he’d love to be able to simply write on a PDA screen “Call Bob…” and it would be automatically added to your calls list. Or you could just speak to it “I need batteries” and it would add it to your errands list. Or if you entered an appointment where you had to travel and stay over, the device (or software) would ask if you wanted theatre tickets while you were there!

    I really liked the idea of speaking to it! This got me thinking about simply recording voice notes instead of hand writing them or typing them into the PocketPC! So I just started to use the PocketPC’s notes recording option as a Dictaphone, at first simply for a fun tryout!

    But wow! I can’t believe the huge difference it’s made for me! Instead of having to get out a pen, an index card or notebook wherever I am, then write it out and pop it back into my Moleskine folder, I just press one button, speak the idea or thought and I’m done! It’s made the capture phase far easier when out and about.

    All the voice recordings are stored in the same folder on my memory card so they’re effectively in their own inbox. Each evening I simply go through them at the PC or PocketPC and create the next actions or write up the information as required.

    The only condition is that I can only record notes that don’t need any action until after I’ve processed them that evening. In other words if I remember I have to call someone that afternoon, it’s entered straight into the task list in the PPC. If it’s something that can wait till the next session of inbox processing, it’s recorded as a voice note. But this would also apply to written notes too.

    It’s also far less conspicuous too! Here in the UK it’s quite usual to be “talking to oneself” in public; be in into a Bluetooth wireless headset or a mobile phone! Recording voice notes in public draws no attention at all – but I do get some funny looks when I’d dig out an index card from my Moleskine and start writing on it!

    It’s by far the quickest and most transparent quick capture method I’ve tried when out and about. I can walk and talk at the same time but I’ve had some difficulty walking and writing at the same time. I’ve had a few too many near misses with lampposts!

    It’s also inspired me to set up all the voice recognition software on the PocketPC too. I can now simply press one button, say “Tasks” and there’s my task list! Press the same button again, say “Google” and I’m there searching already! Press the same button again, say “Today” and there’s my calendar for today! You get the idea! All the regularly called numbers have their own voice tags too. Press button; say “Lucy” and it’s dialling her!

    If you’ve not tried it, give it a go! Most mobile phones and PDA’s should have some kind of recording option? Or at the very least voice tagging options?

    I’m capturing more ideas and thoughts when out and about now and it truly makes the capture phase about as easy as it could get!

    Thanks for you time,

    Best regards,


  • #2
    I second this one

    I sure can agree with your idea. I use a little hand held digital recorder, though, as I've found that's easier for me..especially if I'm driving. There is something about getting behind the wheel that make my mind just buzz with ideas, thoughts, and to do items! Now, if I could just find a waterproof recorder to use as a capture tool when I'm in the shower!!


    • #3
      I have both a digital recorder and a small cassette recorder. I'm usually taking either one with me when I drive since I'm the same way; my best ideas always seem to come when I can't write things down. I've got my digital recorder stored in my messenger bag so it's handy no matter where I am.


      • #4
        Two comments:

        First, for the future GTD system Allen talks about, think LiveScribe + stikkit. Wouldn't be that hard to make a program to capture the four key action categories via writing...

        I use a recorder, but only for my reading workflow. I find paper faster, and I'm usually in a place where I have hands free. More here, FYI: Notes on using a digital voice recorder for taking reading notes and A reading workflow based on Leveen's "Little Guide".


        • #5
          The only problem with voice recordings on a PocketPC is that it creates another In box for you to process (and you need to look for the notes on your device). A solution is Voice Minder:

          It records your voice note and sends it as an email (to you). Of course, it works best with a Pocket PC Phone or Smartphone, but a non-phone Pocket PC can work too - it will just send the email when you sync.

          I don't work for WebIS, but love their software...