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I started to use Evernote, and I want to find the best system for me to work with it. I am currently thinking about how can I use voice notes.

The problem that I see with voice is that you need to play it to see what is in it, and if it is longer one after some time you will not remember what is the whole content of the note without reminding yourself listening to it whole. With text and pictures you can quickly skim the content and remember what it is all about. Yes, you can transcribe voice note, but those services do not work with my native spoken language.

The good use for voice notes that I can think of is if something really good crossed your mind and you want to remember it on the go (while you are in the city, or doing something else), you can fire up Evernote android app (I use android app too), quickly make voice note and put it in "Inbox" notebook. Then when you go through your "Inbox", decide what to do with it and convert it to some text or action or something else.

How do you use voice notes, and how can I use it more productively and in various useful ways?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think voice notes and text notes serve different purposes; they are useful in different situations.

Text notes are what I prefer for simple facts I need to remember, when it's clear what the information is, and how I want to preserve it. For example "don't forget to buy eggs" or "remember to email George about the report" aren't things I would put in a voice note, since a simple text note will allow me to access the information much faster and allows for simpler organization. One could argue that voice notes may be suitable here as well since you can record them on the go, but I never actually do that. Text notes are simply much cleaner in those cases.

Voice notes are useful in cases where you want to preserve a certain "train of thought" you have, and you're not really sure what its conclusion is or in cases when you have a complex idea in your head that still needs work and you're not sure how to summarize it. In those cases, it helps to simply record your thoughts so you won't forget any part of them. Later on, you can listen to them again, think it over, and put the finished result of your ponderings in a text note. I think ultimately everything should end up in text; voice notes should only serve a preliminary purpose.

In conclusion, I think voice notes are better for preserving the process of thinking, while text notes are better for preserving the result.

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You already mentioned the pros and cons.

Evernote, Tiddlywiki and Co. are esp. useful to structure, tag, search a knowledge base.

Voice notes don't fit here. They represent mostly no real knowledge. Often you use voice notes for recording ideas and concepts resulting from brainstorming longer than 30 seconds or short discussions in a group or via phone. That's where voice notes have value. You can then link the audio file to a project or problem already structured into evernote & co.

But also consider not recording too long voice notes just out of laziness. Recording a 30 minute discussion without noting main discussion points and results on a paper might be quite contraproductive. In the end you want to save time by recording notes, that's the main purpose of voice notes besides not breaking your brainstorming flow or a discussion.

Dont start to tag or name voice notes according to a system or converting them to text, this is unproductive redundancy, link the files to projects and tasks in your knowledge base/GTD app (file:///c:/path of file for example in firefox)

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