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This weekend, we tackled a huge project – we moved from one webhost provider to another. What made it especially complex, was we had to factor in multiple domains, websites, and email accounts. Since some of the websites belonged to our clients, we also had to be mindful of minimal downtime.

We thought we were being clever scheduling this webhost migration on Super Bowl weekend. Maybe not such a good idea when your football loving husband is your IT guy. Luckily, he timed everything just right, so he could still watch the game.

Whilst we were in the midst of exporting and importing all the critical files, I constantly needed to log in to the various webhost providers, websites, and email accounts. There was no time to run around looking for the right usernames and passwords. Everything I needed was always at my fingertips.

You will probably laugh when I tell you what’s my secret for staying so organized. I use a recipe box. Yep, that’s it. Just a simple little 6” x 3” recipe box I bought at Office Depot. Inside is a stash of index cards. My cards are filed in alphabetical order and include details on everything needed to run our business. “Zoom” is the program we use for our videoconferencing. It’s filed under “Z” and includes: the website URL, our login information, details on our different meeting rooms, and even the dial-in number and pin for telephone attendees. Just one little index card contains everything needed to effectively use Zoom.

Up until now, my recipe box has been the best way I’ve found to stay organized. With so many different internet accounts to keep track of, having this easy-to-use system has been great. However, as much as I love my recipe box, I am now embarking on a change. This month I will be heading to Spain for 3 weeks on a working holiday. As I work from abroad, I will need access to all the note cards in my recipe box, but since I’m traveling light, the box has to stay home.

So now, I’m in the process of taking all the index cards in my recipe box and putting them online. To do this, I’m using the Apple Notes app. If you’re a Mac user, you might already be familiar with Notes, a standard program on every iPhone, iPad, and Mac computer. What you might not be aware of, is that Notes automatically syncs across all your Apple devices. Once I discovered that nifty feature, I began to see Notes in a whole new light.

The more I began using Notes, I saw it had some other features I wasn’t aware of. Like the ability to organize all your notes into separate folders. I learned that notes can contain more than just text. Notes can include photos, drawings, and even hypertext links. Also, if you’re a Siri user, you can have her type your notes. Simply activate Siri and tell her “Take a note.” Siri will ask, “What do you want the note to say?” Just start dictating and when you’re done, you’re even given an option to make edits. Cool huh? It’s like having your own virtual assistant.

The best Notes feature I discovered, is you can secure access to any given note by locking it. When a note is locked it can only be unlocked if you type in the password your previously entered or use Touch ID (if you have one of the newer iPhone models). Making a note secure is a really good idea if it contains confidential information you wish to keep private. As I’m transferring all my business-related index cards into Notes, I am making them all password protected.

It’s nice when you can find simple solutions to working with today’s complex technology. I have found that the more organized I am, the more productive I become. I count my lucky stars that I no longer have to scramble around looking for passwords and other key information. I guess you could say that my little black recipe box + Notes is the secret sauce for staying organized.

If you would like to learn more about working with Apple’s Notes, I highly recommend reading this excellent article: Notes App: The Ultimate Guide. It contains everything you need to know to become a Notes Ninja.

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, the migration from one web host provider to another was successful. Although it was a lot more complicated that we thought it would be. The trickiest part was all the email accounts. Luckily, since it was Super Bowl Sunday, I think everyone was so interested in watching the game, they didn’t notice the down-time. Touchdown!

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant