Evernote Moleskine Sticker Hack, or ADHD Strikes Again

2014-05-07 12.29.22Yes, I should be world-building. But as I’ve said before, I can’t always control the level of my attention… and I was sucked into the maw of an engineering challenge. That said, it will make my world-building more efficient. At least, I sure hope so.

I like to handwrite stuff. Especially in world-building, a sheet of paper and a pen seems to work a lot better for me than a keyboard. But — I also use Evernote (EN) as part of my GTD strategy, and that’s where I store all my novel notes, rather than in Scrivener. Given these postulates, I was naturally drawn to Evernote-linked Post-Its (a clear win! Who knew outlining could be fun?) and to the Evernote-linked Moleskine notebooks.

The notebooks feature a special background which makes it easy for Evernote to correct scanned images for skew, and to some extent for flatness. They also come with a set of colored stickers, which will automatically tag your scans and put them inside EN notebooks. I use lots of tags on my world-building notes. The automatic tagging saves me a bunch of time at the end of my work session when I set up my iPad and my notebook and just photograph everything. I can go back and correct titles later if I like, but really, the tagging and notebook stuffing, plus EN’s ability to search even my illegible hand scrawl, makes that a nicety rather than a necessity.

So far, so good. The problem? Moleskine only gives you 32 to 48 of each kind of sticker. There are six sticker types, for a total of 224 stickers for 240 pages (in a set of extra-large, graph-ruled journals.) If you do a lot of tagging, like me, you run out of stickers long before you run out of pages. And of course, there are no extra stickers available for sale.

This has been a major gripe of EN/Moleskine customers since the notebooks were introduced. EN is sympathetic (sort of) but the stickers are produced and copyrighted by Moleskine. Despite both customer and EN pleas, Moleskine will not sell the stickers separately.

There are all kinds of workarounds — you can fake the software out by making colored squares with a pen or marker, if you have a pen that’s close to one of the stickers in color and EN is in a generous mood. I’ve tried it and it’s very hit-or-miss.

2014-05-07 12.37.11My solution? It finally dawned on me that I needn’t put a sticker on the page at all! I cut out some 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch squares of white index card (that’s 1 cm by 1 cm for you enlightened metric folks.) I stuck a sticker of each sort onto a square, thus making a movable icon. Now I simply place loose icons of choice on a page just before photographing it with EN iPad. Afterwards I scoop up the loose icons, set up the next page and place them again. Ta-da! An infinite number of tags!

It means the tags aren’t a permanent part of the Moleskine pages, of course, but since I intend to reference this stuff primarily through EN, that’s not an issue for me.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled world-building…

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