US-centric: At its most basic level, webapp Jott is a voice to text transcription service: you call Jott, leave a message, and Jott transcribes it and emails you or your contacts the text. That alone can capture the big idea that pops into your head on the drive to the office, but Jott can do a whole lot more than send you email. With Jott’s built-in links and tools that capitalise on its email-sending abilities, it can give nearly any personal organization system a go-anywhere, add-anything boost. Today we’ve got a quick primer on how to turn your phone into a ubiquitous capture tool that zaps info into all your favorite organisation apps by voice.
If you don’t already have a Jott account, have your cell phone handy and head to their sign-up page. Fill in the forms, confirm your email, add 1-866-JOTT-123 to your contacts and/or speed-dial and make the confirmation call.
Once you log in, head right to “Contacts” and add “My Phone” (first name, last name) as a contact with only your own phone number. “Wait,” you might ask, “doesn’t Jott let you have all your messages sent to your phone as a preference?” Precisely—that’s every single Jott, which isn’t something I want to deal with. By having “My Phone” as a contact, you can skip your email inbox and leave yourself notes on your cell phone—which comes in handy when trying to remember a number or address while driving.
Next, hit up "Groups" and think of any sets of emails and phone numbers you might want to message all at once using one phrase, such as "Co-Workers" or "Family." After that, head to "Jott Links" and enable any the growing number of Jott-enabled webapps—including Lifehacker favorites like Remember the Milk and Google Calendar—you use.
You owe it to yourself to check out Jott's simple How To guide before calling, but the basic technique is simple. Dial the number, wait for the "Who do you want to Jott?" prompt, and then say either "myself" or one of the contacts, groups or "Links" you set up. After the confirmation and beep, you can speak clearly for less than 30 seconds, and your message will be translated by a mix of computers and humans (your privacy, they say, is assured) and then sent to the right inboxes, phones or web apps. I've had pretty decent luck with both the accuracy and turn-around on the service, but your mileage may, of course, vary.
Filter and customise your Jotts
Sending yourself email from a dial tone can be pretty handy, but only if your Jott messages don't get lost amidst your other messages. You could filter all of them into one folder or label by the "@jott.com" sender, but why not organise your messages by topic? If your email server allows the common [email protected] format (detailed here), simply add that extended email as a Jott contact and set your filters accordingly (like I've done to record my feature ideas). If your can't accept "+" emails, think of a unique phrase you can say in your messages—like, say, "gigantic awesome idea"—and have your email client file accordingly. If you find yourself using Jott a lot, and you can use this method to set up a Gmail/Jott to-do list.
Group and print projects/ideas
If you'd rather not mingle your wandering thoughts with your email inbox, you can create folders to store specific memos to yourself on the "My Jott" page. Say "Home," "Work," or whatever else when asked who you're Jotting, and the messages will end up inside folders that have easy printing tools. iGoogle users can also go email-free with the Jott gadget.
Make your organising tools more accessible
Great organisation systems provide a single place to drop all your to-dos, events and thoughts, but what if you've just remembered a task while you're walking to the store? Jott has you covered. The site provides built-in Links for many web-based systems previously mentioned on Lifehacker—including
- To-do manager Toodledo
- Expense tracker Xpenser
- Calendar and task organizer 30 Boxes
- Vitalist, a frequent commenter favourite
If you have Google Calendar hooked up your own preferred scheduling app, just add it to your Links and you can call in your quick-add items (like, say, "9 p.m. Sunday Watch The Wire") for easy posting. But perhaps the strongest Jott integration tool is Remember the Milk, which already can seamlessly insert itself into Google Calendar and Gmail. Put them all together and there aren't too many places where you won't be able to record your thoughts and ideas for later use.
Keep Sandy close at hand (platonically)
Sure, she's technically an organisation tool as well, but the integration of Jott and nearly any form, give them GTD-like "@whatever" labels, export everything to an iCal feed, and, even more than with Sandy's email interface, feel the weird/reassuring sense that you truly have a personal assistant to watch your forgetful back. Bonus: Those irked by the app's gender assumption can change its Jott name to "Michael" or "Jeeves" or anything else, for that matter.
Use Twitter to make a Jott RSS feed
Jott itself doesn't offer a helfpul RSS feed for your memos, but it's easy enough to create one using its direct Twitter link. Those who don't have an account could create one solely for the purpose of sending occasional items to their feeds, and those who do could combine a filtering tool like Feed Rinse with keywords to pull their important items out.
More handy Jott uses
- Remotely control your computer—Follow these instructions on shutting down Windows or controlling your Mac, and you can save power, automate tasks and show the IT guy in a not-so-subtle way just how strong your Sysadmin mojo is.
- Send snail mail from anywhere—Using email-to-snail-mail service Postful, you can set up unique email addresses to have paper copies of received messages mailed out to a specific addresses—whether to poor, web-less Uncle Bif and Aunt Marge, or as a can't-be-deleted note for yourself. Add that Postful email to your Jott contacts and you can send a short note, albeit with a little free print advertising for Jott. I haven't tested this myself, but it seems like it has mash-up potential.
- Update del.icio.us—If you use Jott's Twitter feed, Twitticious can grab links from Twitter feeds and paste them into del.icio.us accounts. Great for noting web sites that people tell you about, even if you have to spell out some of the wonkier URLs.
- Record short messages for anywhere playback—If you've got a short message or sound you want to access later, try setting up a Jott for yourself and holding your phone up to it. You only get 30 seconds and the transcription almost certainly won't work, but you'll get an audio file you can play back later on the Jott web site, and dialing Jott from speed dial is often much faster than finding a cell phone's record function or keying into voicemail.
How have you used Jott (or its recently-launched competitor reQall) to keep yourself organised? What Jott/email mash-up tools can you conjure up? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments.
Kevin Purdy, Lifehacker associate editor, doesn't mind the stares when he says "Remember The Milk" into his cell phone. His weekly feature Open Sourcery appears every Saturday on Lifehacker AU.