Productivity Tip: Remembering Everything with Evernote
November 28, 2011
For those of you who find yourselves drowning in piles of sticky notes, Evernote is one of those tools you wonder how you ever got by without it. The organizational system and OCR make it worth a look for those that are looking for help in organizing ideas at work, school or just bits of data from every-day life.
Evernote gives whole new meaning to the word “synchronized.” The software uses technology to help users organize various types of information from several different sources into one, central, web-based location. The product also allows users to clip web pages and archive them for later reference, store screen shots, photos and text notes, all within a customizable storage system. Evernote will also organize things for you by the date a note or other document was created.
10 Reasons I like Evernote:
- It’s lightweight, fast and very easy to use
- You can store data locally and/or synch it to a folder in the cloud
- It automatically saves notes – there’s no need to look for the ‘save’ button
- You store notes inside Notebooks so you can create a Notebook for each project you’re working on
- Notes can be tagged much like a blog post
- Evernote creates excellent screen-grabs
- It’s great for single or collaborative use
- The basic version is free
- You can email notes from within the application
- You, or any member of your team, can access your account from any device that has Evernote installed on it
Multiple access points
You can sync Evernote between multiple computers, smart phones and tablets. This means that all your devices can store and retrieve information from your same central account. This makes Evernote a powerful information collection application whenever and wherever you go.
Online and offline access
This is a big plus. I can be in a carpark with no cellphone coverage and ten minutes to spare before my meeting. Evernote allows you to use the program offline to make changes to all your notes, then have these changes syncronised the moment you connect back to the Internet. Evernote also has a ‘conflicting notes’ folder which alerts you to notes that have been altered independently of one another. You can browse the conflicts and resolve them.
In addition to just writing notes, you can copy and paste files directly into Evernote. If pasting pictures, Evernote will automatically display them in the note. For PDF’s, Evernote displays the first page and provides a mini navigation bar to allow you to scroll through the PDF while you’re in the note. With the premium version you can also search PDF’s.
Adding attachments provides another dimension to your notes. It allows you to combine further thoughts and ideas and keep them in the same place, or circulate them with others via email.
Email directly from Evernote
You can email notes directly to Evernote. You can also set incoming notes to be filed into categories by adding hashtags in the subject line. You can also email notes from Evernote under your name, and have future replies routed directly to your normal email client. People receiving emails from your Evernote account will have the phrase ‘Sent from Evernote’ appended to the top of your message.
Categorise with folders
You can store all your notes in categorized folders (called ‘notebooks’). You can also create folders within these folders. Your folder architecture is completely visible in the Evernote interface at all times and the folder tree is also collapsible to give more viewing space.
You can save web pages or parts of web pages
This is one of my favourite features. While in your internet browser, Evernote allows you to copy parts of a webpage or the whole webpage and store a full copy of this webpage as a note. All pictures and links are maintained. Formatting is usually 90-95% perfect.
I use this function more than any other. When browsing through my Google Reader feeds, when I come across articles, blogs and information I want to act on at a later date, I save the page and instantly transfer it to Evernote. Evernote prompts you to categorise these webpage clippings, where upon you can opt to store them in relevant folders such as ‘small business’, ‘social media’ or ‘to do’. You will then be able to easily refer to this information as it was intended, rather than as a diluted summary.
Fancy yourself an artist?
Evernote has the built in capability to take webcam snapshots from your computer or photos from your camera and phone. This allows you to capture visual information which you can use on other projects. In addition, you can create an ink note which is effectively a blank digital canvas with basic drawing functionality. Here you can sketch out any ideas or diagrams and save them like a normal note. You can even take a picture of your own sketches or handwriting and have it uploaded to your notes.
Merge multiple notes to one
Let’s say you’ve collected a mass of notes on the same topic. Evernote allows you to select all the notes and merge them together to one note. This further enhances your organisation by keeping everything within easy reach. It allows for easy printing and it also means you can easily email one note containing all the information you’ve put together.
Share Evernote Folders
Evernote allows you to share some or all of your Evernote folders with other Evernote users. Premium subscribers are allowed to alter notes across other people’s Evernote accounts (if given permission of course).
This means you can share information with others easily and have the information updated in real time. This shared collaboration aspect is a great feature, allowing you to involve and pass on your latest notes to others who may benefit.
That sums up why Evernote is one of my most used applications, I have the iPhone app with the desktop program pinned to my task bar. Evernote helps me to remember, share content with my clients, receive notes from clients and save articles to read at a later date. There are also the myriad of Evernote plugins which I haven’t covered in this article however this Mashable article has a nice overview of popular apps, “An App Store for Productivity Addicts“.
Are you an Evernote user? Which plugins or features make your day run easier?