Never Forget a To-Do Item

Have you ever been driving down the freeway and remember something that needs to be added to your to-do list? I have. Many times. Trying to jot down a memo at 70-plus miles per hour is not exactly safe.

cell phone in car

Enter You call a special, toll-free number, dictate your to-do item, and hang-up. Jott then converts your voice message to text and sends you an e-mail. You can then process your e-mail as you normally would.

I have been very impressed with the accuracy of the transcription. Jott gets it right almost every time. Even if it doesn’t, it is close enough to jog my memory.

For example, I need to call the Yamaha piano store on Monday. So, I pressed my speed-dial key for Jott. When the system answered, I said, “Call Yamaha on Monday.” Sixty seconds later, I received an e-mail from Jott Networks that said, “Call Yamaha on Monday.” Perfect. It got every word right.

This is a simple but elegant way to insure that nothing falls between the cracks. If you think it, you can record it—and make sure it gets added to your inbox for later processing.

Best of all, it’s free. Give it a try.

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  • John Young

    So this is your secret weapon Mike? I’ve always wondered how you accomplish so much without your brain exploding because I never see you walking around like Donald Trump with 14 asssistants making notes on your every comment.
    I can only imagine how many people stop you dailyi with conversation adding a request for your study or observations later. It could end in a bad case of brain clutter.

    I don’t know where you hear of all the gadgets, ideas and interesting things you prompt us on, but I’m glad to know when we see you on your computer you really are working and digging and testing thoughts and ideas.

    Another good idea here. Thanks.

  • Gina

    Just curious why if you’re making a call, wouldn’t you just call yourself and leave a message?

  • Gina

    oops, I missed that it was FREE. Aha. That is a good service then. I’m more likely to read email than listen to phone messages. Thanks for sharing that resource.

  • michael Hyatt


    Because then I have to call my voice mail and then key it into my task management system. With Jott, it is automatically in my e-maail system and with a keystroke or two, I can have it in my system. It is less work.



  • Jon Dale


    I’ve been using jott for a while. I’m on the road a lot and jott has pretty much replaced my notepad in the truck. I also like the way I get a daily summary from jott, it means I get reminded daily of the things I’ve jotted.

    Jott has made some mistakes in transcription…but its really convenient to hit the “listen to” button in the email to hear the original message.

    I’m guessing at some point they’ll want to monetize the service. Hopefully it won’t be with ads. I’d prefer to pay a fee than to have to listen to or read ads.

    A couple of other tools I’ve been playing with recently: I’ve used a lot of RSS aggregators and its by far the easiest to use and has the best set of features. I love the quick add feature. You can send a text message from your phone to Google that says “Apt at 4pm next Wednesday with mike at Starbucks on 31st” and it will correctly put it in your calendar. I also like the SMS reminders of calendar items. If only it had a task list I might completely jump ship from Microsoft and abandon our exchange server for gmail/google calendar. My assistant is able to schedule things in my calendar just like with exchange/outlook.

  • Roseanne Baker

    Just a reminder that talking on a cellphone while driving is dangerous! Part of my company’s safety culture is to impress upon employees that “distracted drivers” cost lives. I am going to look up Jott because it definitely sounds like a cool service, but please resist the urge to talk and drive! (And statistically, cells with headsets are just as dangerous; it’s the distraction factor…)

  • chris

    Roseanne: Being a jotter for quite some time, I’m speaking from experience….Jott is WONDERFUL for driving and using your cell phone. Just put on your hands free device…voice command Jott in your phone and voila!! This is going to safe lives on the freeway i tell ya. Great app!!

    High in convenience! Helps when you have a full hand, when you want to contact an entire group…OR what works for me…as a musician (guitarist), I jott myself my idea when I’m not at my instrument! Give it a try! It’s free!!

  • Roseanne Baker

    Hi Chris, I appreciate what you are saying, that jotting down an idea over a handsfree device is safer than hauling out pen and paper to capture it. However, as the saying goes, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” From the reading I’ve done, even handsfree cells pose a distraction.

    What makes me wonder is this: Can we not turn off our busy lives for the duration of a car ride? Can we not put work on hold while we’re driving? If the answer is no, perhaps public transit is the way to go, or hire a driver. Don’t mean to be an old stick in the mud about this, and I have just as many brilliant ideas as the next person (I think), but perhaps a voice activated tape recorder would be the safest thing in a car; you wouldn’t have to turn your eyes from the road, or dial a number etc. I trust my brain to re-surface the truly awe-inspiring ideas that it comes up with, and rely on the process of “survival of the fittest idea” to kill off the rest!

  • PR, New Media, GTD – Lines from Lee

    GTD Tip: Jott Easy Notes toSelf

    In The Four-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss advocates radical outsourcing of your life, going so far as to have a personal assistant in Bangalore handle all those nagging details. Whether you go that far or not, one thing all personal productivity and lif…

  • Chris

    Roseanne: It is unfortunate to see that so many people can’t take their busy lives out of their car….I do agree with that. Also I don’t think Jott will solve the problem, but help it. Also, if you program jott into your phone right…you don’t have to take your eyse off the road! :)

  • Brendan Murphy

    Mike, Awesome tip here. I just signed up and I love it. I haven’t developed the habit of keeping a notpad with me everywhere I go, but I always take my phone. As alway, I find just about everything you write about to be very useful information. Thanks again.

  • Brendan Murphy

    Quick plug for Google Notebook. I recently found this and this has become an amazing help for me. It’ an amazing add on, as I always come across things online that I’d love to reference later. This allows me to do that without saving a bookmark. Plus it allows you to take snippets from pages, so you can keep only what you need. A really cool tool.

  • AdamD

    I’ve been using Jott for several months and I love it. It’s a service I *would* pay for.

    I took it a step further by incorporating my Jotts directly into my to-do list:

    It’s been amazing for clearing my brain of a thought when I’m not near my office or a computer (most commonly while walking downtown, which doesn’t seem too dangerous).

  • Jeff_Grosse

    I used Jott when it was free, but now that they charge for it, the benefit to me doesn't justify the cost. I knew the day was coming that they'd offer a Premium service, but I didn't think they'd eliminate the free service altogether. Michael, you may want to post a quick update to the bottom of this blog post about them going to a pay-only service.