How I navigated the ASTD conference with an iPad, Evernote, and GTD

Evernote screenshot
Evernote screenshot

I recently returned from the 2011 American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) conference in Orlando, Florida. On this trip, I decided to approach my note taking just a little differently. Normally, I take notes with a traditional paper and pen. This time, I took all of my notes on my iPad, and it worked out wonderfully.

My primary application of choice has been and will be Evernote. Evernote allows me to capture my ideas easily and I can then organize them in notebooks, tag them, and make them available through the cloud.

Knowing I was going to the ASTD conference, I started to prepare early. Using strategies from Getting Things Done (GTD), I created a tag to identify my postings. At a minimum, I tagged them with “ASTD 2011.” I used other tags depending on the topic. All of my notes or postings were added to my Reference notebook because these were ideas I would use later but did not require a next action.

In preparation for the conference, I forwarded my airline, car, hotel, and conference information to the appropriate tag and notebook. It was very useful to have this information at my fingertips.

During the conference, I used the ASTD application extensively to schedule the sessions I wanted to attend. While in the session, I took notes directly into Evernote. I gave each session its own note page.  Any pictures I took during a session, I emailed directly to Evernote and appropriately tagged and placed in the Reference notebook.

Once I returned from the conference, I was able to use the desktop Evernote client to help assemble my trip report. By using Evernote and the GTD strategies, I feel I was more prepared and I worked less. Normally, I have to do double duty on my notes, when I write them on a legal pad and then transcribed them to my trip report. With Evernote, I had the additional benefit of being able to search through my notes immediately.

Here are a couple of lessons I would like to pass on: 1). ensure your iPad is fully charged before starting the day; I came close to running out of power and 2). spend time to prepare for note capturing before you actually get to the conference.

I had a tremendously positive experience using this method; I expect to continue to using my iPad and Evernote to capture conference notes well into the future.

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