Perl script and Alfred workflow for quick call notes

(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)

As a part of trying to live a more paperless life, I'm determined to take notes electronically when I'm sitting at my computer, instead of jotting them down on scraps of paper and then putting them into a document later.

When a phone call comes in, I want to be able to start typing my notes about the call right away so that I'm not distracted as I'm switching over to my text editor, opening a new document, saving the document someplace to make sure I don't lose what I'm typing, and THEN being ready to actually take notes.

I've been using the OS X productivity app Alfred more and more lately, and so I decided to create a simple Alfred workflow that would let me get a phone call notes file up in front of me, ready to edit, with minimal typing.

I wanted to make sure that the resulting notes file was named in some reasonable way that I could find again later, and so part of creating the workflow was figuring out how to take a free-form description of the call that I'd be typing in as it started, and turn that into a filesystem-friendly name (sometimes known as a slug). I ended up using a simple Perl script to do that for me.

The Alfred workflow, then, is just a keyword and a script run:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 2.06.56 PM

The keyword definition requires an argument:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 2.07.11 PM

And the script run makes a call to the Perl script:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 2.07.31 PM

Once the workflow is saved, I can activate it with my Alfred hotkey and then initiate the notes file with the "cn" keyword:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 2.07.57 PM

And voilà, up comes a text file in my default text editor, with some basic header info, ready for my typing:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 2.08.40 PM

I'm sure there are a lot of other ways to do this, but I had fun playing around with what I could make Alfred do, and doing a bit of Perl scripting after being so immersed in PHP lately. The script itself works fine independent of Alfred, so you might be able to adapt it for your own productivity tools and workflow.

If you have a better way or a completely different way of thinking about taking notes on phone calls, let me know!

One thought on “Perl script and Alfred workflow for quick call notes

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your solution. All the other solutions I came across were convoluted and didn't lend themselves to a customized solution.

    I didn't need to jot notes specific to a call, but your well commented script allowed me to easily adjust for my needs. Cheers!

    Now if I could just figure out how to get Xcode to stop hijacking the markdown extension as the default app 😛

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