We're bombarded with things to remember everyday, and it's pretty overwhelming. Rather than sign up for a handful of different services to manage it all, I've consolidated my digital life with one powerful service: Springpad. Here's how.
There's no shortage of note-taking-and-syncing apps out there, from the extremely popular Evernote to the more straightforward Simplenote, and they each serve their purposes. Previously mentioned Springpad is the best solution I've found, however, for organising the day to day stuff — ideas, tasks, cool restaurants, products, books, recipes and everything else we encounter during the day. Whether I find it on the internet or out in the world, the ability to plug it all into a ubiquitous capture tool that also organises it all for me is a huge weight off my shoulders. Thus, after Adam shared his favourite capture tool, I'm here to share mine.
Note: Just like when Adam discussed Simplenote, remember that different things work for different people. Lots of tech outlets have compared Springpad to Evernote, and they are somewhat similar services, but just because I'm crazy about Springpad doesn't mean I'm saying you should dump Evernote right now. Evernote has a lot of really great features too, and if you're trying to digitise your paper media, it might be the best choice around. I'm merely sharing with you a unique app that has made my life a lot easier. I highly recommend you try it out, but if it doesn't suit your needs, it doesn't suit your needs — live and let live. There is, however, always room for friendly discussion.
What Makes Springpad Awesome
Springpad is a tool to help you manage the kinds of discoveries we run into on a day to day basis. It can capture all sorts of things from around the net, organise them into categories and help you act on those discoveries all without you lifting a finger. Here's a quick primer straight from Springpad:
If Evernote is a super advanced filing cabinet, Springpad is a super advanced personal assistant. Springpad not only captures things and organises them for later; it also figures out what you're saving and tries to put it into context and help you use it. For example, if you add a specific product to Springpad (say, an HDTV or Blu-Ray player), Springpad will provide a link to buy it on Amazon, a link to CNET's review of the product, and a price comparison tool that checks a number of other outlets.
The other great part of Springpad is that it organises so many different aspects of your life that you barely need any other apps. Springpad supports note-taking, task syncing and web clipping all in one package, so no longer do I need to sign up for a bunch of different services like Evernote, Remember the Milk and Delicious — I just need my Springpad page, which I can organise by notes, tasks, bookmarks or anything else I want. Plus, with the mobile apps available for iOS and Android, you can also access it all offline, which is a big plus.
Adding Stuff to Springpad
As you come across cool things on the net or in real life, you can add them to your "My Stuff" section of Springpad for viewing later. (My Stuff is basically . If you're logged in to Springpad, you can add stuff right from the web interface or mobile app by clicking the plus ('+') button. You can search for a specific product, recipe, business, movie, book or any other category supported by Springpad (of which there are quite a few) — and then further tag, sort, and add notes and links to them all.
However, there are a few other ways to add stuff. For example, you can just shoot an email to a special Springpad email address and Springpad will add the contents of your email to your Springpad. You can scan a product's bar code with your smartphone's camera, and Springpad will attempt to find the item and add it to your stuff. Probably the best way to add stuff, though, is via the web clipping bookmarklet (and soon-to-be-available browser extensions) that adds your current page to Springpad right away. You can add it as just a regular bookmark, or in the case of the aforementioned categories, it'll try and detect what it is you're saving and pull out relevant information out for you. Thus, when you go back to Springpad to view it, it's already got the automatically generated links ready for you to, for example, compare prices, read reviews, and buy stuff on Amazon.
Plain Notes and Checklists
Apart from adding specific discoveries, you can also jot down quick notes for viewing later. Whether it's text, a photo from your phone's camera, or a voice memo, you can jump into Springpad, add it and automatically sync it to the cloud. What's even cooler is that, since these note-taking apps are so often used for grocery lists and the like, Springpad supports the creation of basic checklists as well. Instead of just a plain text list from which you delete items, you can actually check things off as you get to them, which is pretty handy. You can create checklists based on actual products that you've added to Springpad (say, if you're going on an epic Best Buy trip) or just plain text (for more simple grocery runs).
Tasks and Calendars
Springpad also contains full to-do list and event support. You can quickly add tasks to your to-do list, complete with due dates, categories and a description, and then get alerts when tasks are close to being due (see the alerts section for more information). You can also add calendar events, which you can sync to Google Calendar, which is great (since while I may be willing to drop Remember the Milk, I'll probably be sticking with Google for my calendar needs). Thus, when you view your calendar on Google Calendar, you'll be able to see your events as normal, but you'll also be able to view them within Springpad, with all your other stuff.
In Springpad, you can set up alerts for pretty much anything. You can set up email or SMS reminders for tasks and events, price drops in products you've saved, coupons related to saved items and even news related to saved items. To keep them from clogging your inbox, you may want to set up a filter that keeps them out of the way of your normal email but still lets you sift through them at a time of your choosing. It's only missing alerts using iOS or Android's built-in notification systems, but that's just me being picky — SMS will do the trick just fine.
These are just a few of the most basic things Springpad can do. The number of built-in categories alone gives you a lot of flexibility in how you use it. Are you a wine connoisseur? A music junkie? Food nut? Springpad's got you covered for organising everything you discover in your day to day life. There is also a whole section dedicated to "apps" that you can add to your Springpad that use your data, such as a weekly meal planner, a cleaning supply inventory for your house and many others.
In addition, Springpad is still under rapid development and constantly getting new features. In the near future, Springpad will be adding an API for third-party developers, thus allowing you to (in theory) view your task list on your desktop using GeekTool or sync Springpad's contact list with Google. They're also adding handy features like an Android widget, location-aware alerts and social networking integration so you can send links from Facebook or Twitter directly to Springpad. There's a lot to this service already, but if you're still on the fence, it'll definitely be one to watch in the coming months as it continues to mature.