Free Your Mind – Jott

This is a copy of a blog I keep on BigLife.

Part 2 of a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!

The quote “Free your mind” comes from the movie The Matrix, when Morpheus wants Neo to let go of the limitations of his beliefs to see new possibilities.

While this column may not allow you to stop bullets or leap hundreds of yards, I believe it will show you new possibilities that you can attain quickly to spend less time adminstrating and more time living your life.

The Challenge

The title of this entry is quite literal. I used to carry so much junk around in my head: groceries I needed, errands to run, dates to remember, and a bunch of other to-dos. Given that my memory isn’t all that great to begin with, it took a lot of energy, and wasted a bunch of “RAM” that I could be using for more creative endeavors.

So I started using systems: I started keeping a calendar in Outlook, grocery lists and to-do lists on paper. That helped. And there were still way too many things I kept in my head.

Or, worse yet, I’d be driving my 17- to 20-minute commute to work and remember, “oh yeah, gotta get the car serviced… oh yeah, gotta email Beth… Oh yeah, I need milk…” and a thousand other oh-yeahs.

Listen, the RAM comment may seem like hyperbole, but I mean it. Do you know how much creative energy you spend remembering stuff? I’d be willing to bet it weighs you down more than you think.

What do you do with your oh-yeahs, especially when you’re driving? Simply attempt to remember it better—maybe use a mnemonic device? Write it down on one of those pads that’s sunction-cupped to your windshield (yikes!)? Leave yourself a voicemail? Record a voice memo on your cell phone?

The Solution: Jott

I no longer do any of those things. I use a free service called Jott to put the information right where it belongs. This is an ultimate “touch it once” method: no longer will you have to write down or record something so that you later have to transfer it to your schedule, to do list, etc. Jott it and be done!

Jott receives your phone call, converts your words into text, and then sends the words where they need to go. No training of the system is required to recognize your voice. Some examples:

  • Email: Above I remembered I needed to send an email to Beth. I would call her, but I need to make two other calls while I drive, and Beth likes to talk (I do, too; just not right now!) I call Jott via the speed dial on my cell phone (using my Bluetooth headset for safety!), say Beth’s name, confirm, then speak what I want her to read: “Hi Beth. Would you like to meet at Monty’s—M-O-N-T-Y-apostrophe-S—Blue Plate for lunch on Thursday at noon? Let me know. Thanks!” Beth gets an email with these words, and Monty’s will be spelled correctly. If the transcription wasn’t perfect, she can click the link to listen to my original audio message.
  • Email a Group! On the Jott site you upload all of your contacts, or define them on the site. You can then arrange them into as many different groups as you like, each with as many members as you want. When Josh and I went on vacation to Palm Springs in February, I remembered on the way to the airport that I had forgotten to email everyone when I was leaving and returning, which is my custom. I called Jott: “Family members… Yes… Hi all: Josh and I are getting on a plane in an hour for Palm Springs. We’ll be gone until the twenty-sixth. I’ll post some blog entries of the fun stuff while we’re there. Enjoy the snow!” An email was sent to all of my siblings (I’m the youngest of seven) and my parents.
  • Update your schedule: In Part 1 of this series. I talked about keeping a schedule in Google Calendar. Check this out: I call my mechanic to make an appointment for maintenance on Thursday at 8 am. I don’t want to simply remember this, so I call Jott: “Google Calendar… Car maintenance Thursday at 8 am.” That’s it! Jott allows links to more than 20 different online services, including Google Calendar. When I go to look at my calendar, there will be a one-hour appointment Thursday at 8 with “Car maintenance” as the subject. How cool is that!
  • Other Online Services: of the 20+ services to which Jott connects, there are several online to-do lists, including Remember the Milk. So I Jott: “Remember the milk… yes… Buy a gallon of milk.” and it appears on my to-do list.
  • Blog! This one may seem silly, yet it actually works well: I have Jott hooked up to my Blogger account. Officially you can record up to a 30-second Jott, although i’ve gone for up to a minute and not be cut off (yet I have been cut off before). When in Palm Springs I used Jott twice to make blog entries. See the last three entries on the bottom of this page. Once again, Jott puts a link in the blog entry so that readers can hear the initial recording if something is unclear.
  • Remind yourself: I’m going through my day and I want to remember before leaving work to run an errand on my way home. I don’t want to put it in a to-do list, I just want a reminder. Jott to the rescue: “MYSELF… Stop at Home Depot and get more varnish… [do you want a reminder?] Yes [what date?] today [what time?] 4:50 [am or pm?] pm [setting reminder for today at 4:50 pm. Is this correct] Yes… [Jott sent]” Between 4:35 and 4:50, Jott will send a text message to my cell phone with the reminder. It’s like having my own secretary!

Every time you Jott, Jott sends you an email to confirm the Jott. This gives you an opportunity to confirm the transcription, and the email even contains a confidence level of the transcription (high, medium or low). If it got something wrong (and it does sometimes; it’s not perfect), you can then correct it if necessary by sending another email, etc. And I almost never need to do this.
I’ve covered the highlights of Jott, and there’s more. Go to www.jott.com to learn more and sign up for your free account. Oh yeah, free? Yes, they are officially in Beta. I’m guessing at some point there will be a fee, and for now, I’m lovin’ it for free.

Once you use Jott, email me and I’ll send you my trick for Jotting in loud places like restaurants with 95% accuracy!

Your Next Steps

  • Learn more about Jott and how it works.
  • Go to http://www.jott.com/ and sign up for a free account.
  • Have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them in a future blog entry.
  • Have other technology that makes your life easier? Please leave me a comment—I’d love to learn more tips and tricks, and may share it here in the future.

Next issue: find that one email from that one guy about that one thing…

2 thoughts on “Free Your Mind – Jott

  1. Collin

    Funny. I was JUST looking at this today thinking I could probably find a use for it.

    I’m also looking into Twitter.

    One service I like that you might want to check out if you have multiple phone numbers (home, cell, work, etc) is grandcentral.com.

  2. Jay Edgar

    And they JUST TODAY added RSS feeds! This means that you can call and have Jott read you your calendar, Twitter roll, etc. Very cool!

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