Apps for Success - Google Keep

Each month, John Bowman picks a new cool piece of technology that helps Customer Success Managers be more productive. We call it “Apps For Success” and in this review (#14) he takes a closer look at Google Keep.



This month in Apps for Success we’re going to focus on getting things done. We are going to talk about Google Keep, a simple to do list, note taking, and picture storing app that will help you get more work done.

In the book, Getting Things Done (GTD), David Allen, (Productivity Consultant) opines that one of the major difficulties in modern life is all of the “open loops” we all have.

An open loop is anything pulling at our attention that doesn't belong where it is, the way it is. These could be anything in your life: “I need to put my socks in the hamper”, “I have to call Janet when I get back to the office”, “end world hunger”, etc. Anything you feel like you need to do is an open loop which can only be closed by completing the action or deleting the loop.

In today’s world, we don’t think about all of the loops we are opening on a daily basis. From the moment you get out of bed in the morning to the second your brain goes to sleep at night you are either opening new loops or closing existing ones. To me, a good day is a day where I close more than I open.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time saying “no” to people. I think it’s something that makes me great at my job but it also means my to do list is a mile long. But that’s ok because I’m a disciple of GTD. I drank the Kool Aid a couple of years ago so now I’m making a batch for all of you!

If I had to sum up GTD in brief it would boil down to these three points:

  1. Anything I consider unfinished or an open loop must be captured in my list manager.

  2. I must clarify exactly what my commitment is to that open loop and decide what I have to do, if anything, to make progress toward fulfilling it.

  3. I must keep reminders to remind me to do them and dedicate time to reviewing my commitments to organize and prioritize them.

Now, I need GTD because I have the memory of a goldfish. Again, I think this makes me great at my job - I have to keep good notes to compensate and I can’t hold a grudge to save my life.

Enter Google Keep to help be my memory.

Google Keep is half of my brain. It is my list manager. It’s the collection tool I use to keep organized and stay productive.

Your collection tool can be anything, a pen and paper, a camera, whatever. But, the key is you have to trust it to contain all of your open loops. If you can trust it to do so, then you can greatly reduce anxiety and stress in your life because you know exactly what you have to do at any given moment.

Today I’m going to tell you why I love Google Keep as my list manager and you should too!

[Standard disclaimer here. I own no part of any of the apps for Customer Success Managers I’ll be reviewing in this column. The opinions contained in this review are mine and mine alone. SuccessHACKER is kind enough to lend me their microphone. If you happen to disagree, leave a comment and let me know! I love a good spirited debate.]

On to the app.


What do you like best?

First, it’s free. If you’ve been reading these articles for any period of time, you know I’m cheap and unashamed of that fact, haha. Keep is completely free to use forever.

Next, I love that you only have one option: Note. You can take notes free form, add lists, or add in photos. Your lists can be a mile long or as short as one item and you can even make tasks in the list dependent upon one another.  

But the final two reasons are icing on the cake. I have horrible handwriting. I can barely read my own writing on a good day. But that’s ok because Keep has a mobile app. I always have my phone on me so I never need to write something down. I just open my phone, fire up the app and start collecting open loops.

The final reason is the reminder feature. Like I mentioned before, I have the memory of a goldfish. The reminder feature in Keep acts as a tickler for me to get the things done I need to get done when they need to be done! The reminders can be time based or location based.

What do you dislike?

I will not speak ill of my list manager.

All joking aside, I’ve tried a lot of to-do lists apps and objects. Keep is the only one that has kept me coming back.

I have heard the location based reminders can be spotty depending on the type of phone you have, but I’ve never had a problem.

What business problems does the product solve? What benefits have you realized?

Look, I’m sure you’re busy. We all are! I’m also sure you’re forgetting something. It’s just a limitation of our brains. The human brain did not evolve to be a perfect memory keeping machine.

I know you may think that you have a photographic memory but those literally do not exist. If you still think you have one, go compete in the World Memory Championships. (Spoiler, every person who have claimed they had one and competed has lost).

But for those of us a bit more realistic with our limitations, you need to have a list manager or collection device to keep yourself honest. And you need to commit to it so it contains everything you need to worry about. Doing so will greatly reduce your “I should be doing something but I don’t know what it is…” feelings. It will also allow you to gain a realistic picture of your commitments and prioritize them.

Here is a list of the business problems Keep helped me solve last week:

  • Keeping track of what I want to ask people in my 1 on 1s

  • Taking notes in my 1 on 1s

  • Creating a daily todo list

  • Creating a weekly todo list

  • Creating a monthly todo list (for June!)

  • Updating my “someday I’ll get to this list”

  • Remembering to water my plants in the office on Wednesdays and Fridays

  • Remembering to water my plants at home on Saturdays

  • Following my daily stretching routine

  • Following my outline for new webinar

  • Creating a list of the reports I need to create in Salesforce

  • Reminding me to rewrite one our webinars

  • Reminding me to check in with a direct report’s project charter

  • The list goes on….

The best part is I can go back and see all the things I did. This is a small actual sample of what is contained in my Keep history from last week.


I love Google Keep! If you need an app to close your open loops and stay sane, then Keep will definitely work for you because it works for me. Keep is a small app and we covered pretty much everything in it.

If you didn’t like what I showed you here, could you put your todo list of choice in the comments and share what you like about it?  

About the Author


John Bowman

John Bowman, Esq., is the Director of Customer Success at Jetpack Workflow. He is a rising star in the Customer Success community, leading the The Pittsburgh Customer Success Meetup and the Pittsburgh Gainsight Pulse chapter, as well as moderating the Customer Success Subreddit. John utilizes his 10+ years of professional experience to focus organizations on one goal: the customer's desired outcome.