Fitness Diary Comparison: Evernote vs Day One vs SImplenote

A few days ago I started keeping a “fitness” diary. This involves the entry of everything that goes into my body bar repeating medications. I recommend it for no other reason than it stops you reaching for that fourth Krispy Kreme because of the effort of updating your diary.

I’m keeping a Notebook in Evernote for this purpose, which also has proven useful in collating other information about improving my health in general. There’s only one problem with this approach, Evernote is slow. In fact, it’s unusably slow on an iPhone.

The iPhone, like most smartphones, is designed for reflexive, repetitive twitch use. So I pull it out of my pocket, fire up an app, do something and put the phone away. There is usually no time for waiting around. Evernote spends so much time synchronising that it’s pretty much a non-starter unless you’re sitting on a bus and have time to kill.

So I thought about using Day One, my favourite journalling app (which I use across iPad, iPhone and a couple of Macs of course) but the sync on that is flakey at best. I’ll make some updates at night on the Mac and the next day I’ll pull out the iPhone and iPad and despite syncing, they’re showing me two different versions of the file. Force-quitting and relaunching doesn’t help.

A less important issue on Day One is that Markdown formatting is supported on the iOS versions, but strangely, not on the Mac version, where I would find it most useful, but this is an issue that doesn’t have a bearing on my diary-entry problem.

Looks like I’ll have to stick with trusty old Simplenote, synced to Notational Velocity on the Mac. I recently paid for the Premium version of Simplenote and find it almost unbearably elegant. The only sync issues I’ve ever had with Simplenote stem from my desire to integrate my iA Writer documents with my Simplenote folders. Although the Premium version of Simplenote allows for Dropbox syncing, their site offers stern warnings against integration with other applications.

Once I’ve finished entering a day’s worth of data, I create a new note in Evernote and copy and paste. Not the neatest workflow, but a lot faster than using Evernote on the iPhone directly. The downside? Neither Evernote nor Simplenote display Markdown formatting, but I can live with that. The whole point of Markdown after all is that it doesn’t need to be displayed formatted.

In my ideal cloud, one folder on a server somewhere would hold my documents, which would be seamlessly mirrored to my connected devices, of which the Mac would be just one. Not long to wait for iCloud.