An Ode to the Notes App: Why We Owe SO MUCH To Its Beautiful Chaos

Kelly Bertrand‘s ode to the most unsexy, unexciting but absolute best app there ever was, the notes app.

Sometimes the best things in life are the most boring.

There’s magic in the mundane and gratitude in the simple, and that can’t be more true than your notes app.

We all have jazzy apps on our phones – the ones that tell us which plane is flying overhead; the ones that tell us which stars are which: the ones that track periods and budgets: the ones that turn average faces to Instagram faces and the ones that let us crush candy.

But there is no app greater than the humble notes app.

Where else can you offload as much? Plan as much? Complain as much? Drunkenly compose comebacks to arguments as much?

Peering into someone’s notes app is potentially the most intimate thing you can do. It’s true reflection of a person’s personal, beautiful chaos and a revealing insight into how their brain works, as well as a chronological evolution of a person’s priorities, thoughts and feelings.

Personally, mine in is an eclectic and batshit mix of work lists, personal goals and potentially-concerning neuroses that I can barely remember but apparently affected me enough to write them down.

Entries include:

  • ‘Yuzu – WHAT is?’ (August 2017)
  • Difference between sandpapers (February 2022)
  • Closure text to ex-boyfriend that was workshopped by myself and my best friend for three days including drafts and notes such as “**** is too harsh maybs? Try ****?’ (November 2017)
  • Dates this week – Sam, Matt, Ryan (during the aftermath of aforementioned breakup where I thought sheer frequency would help things, March 2018)
  • Buy bait (October 2019. I have no memory of fishing. What was the bait for!?)
  • Dinner party ingredients (March 2023)
  • “A beautiful way to be” with no other context (March 2023 – potentially drunkenly written during dinner party)
  • Meal/ Workout Plan (Untouched and unopened since June 2022).
  • “You have to be enough for you” and 15 other ‘inspirational’ quotes I’d found from various Instagram accounts that at the time really *resonated* but were totally forgotten about 5 minutes afterwards (April 2022)
  • “Interdependence vs co-dependency” – November 2021 (God I hope that was a thought starter for a story.

As well as all this random stuff, there’s also dedicated spaces for shopping lists, to-do lists, screeds of notes from work meetings, draft emails, questions for interviews and an entire list devoted to quotes from myself and the other Capsule founders because sometimes our jobs are absolutely ridiculous: “this nipple business sounds f***ing horrific!”, “faking an orgasm is up now”, “there’s some great images of suggestive fruit” are highlights.

app remove by GIF tutors

As well as being a kind of digital post-it collection, my notes app keeps me sane. I’ve spoken about my love of to-do lists before and it’s here where they’re laid out in all their beauty, in a very specific way and order that gives my Type A soul a little caress every time I click into it. My to-do lists are formatted carefully, with bold headings, little circles I can tick when I’ve completed a task and different categories for the different areas of my life.

It feels like as soon as I put something in my notes app it’s out of my brain, which helps me think about other, more creative things and reduces the overwhelm and ‘business’ of my brain, which is always trying to think of a million different things at once.

Amongst the beautiful chaos of the notes app there’s calm, there’s order and there’s organisation and my God, that is soothing.

And as the world turns away from paper and pens and towards digital record-keeping, there’s an interesting nostalgic nature of how we keep our notes now (can you IMAGINE the post-it notes and to-do lists from your youth?! *Buy more body glitter; download Limewire; All the reasons why Ben loves me and all the reasons why Ben DOESN’T love me*.

Now, we can see how we’ve evolved and changed right there in notes, and as I look back on some of the old entries I can’t help but smile. It’s life’s minutiae, but within that comes a sense of gratitude for where you’ve been and where you’re going.

I’ve recently even started a dedicated gratitude list on my notes app where, if something makes me smile or makes me feel lucky I’ll make a little mention to form a kind of miniature gratitude journal that’s nice to look back on in low moments.

In the craziness of life, the notes app not only offers a recording of the peaks and pits, but an oasis of calm as you try your best to get through it.

There’ll never be another app like it.

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