I continue to have conversations with friends who ask me to teach them how I use Evernote. I'm certainly glad to; however I realize I should share the following (my endorsement of my friend Sandi's post about how she uses Evernote) that I copy/pasted from my facebook page.
I wholeheartedly endorse Evernote as the #1 must-use (as opposed to just must-have) productivity tool. Sandi is right on when she says you can't overuse it. My exact workflow is different than hers, but general thought process is quite similar... Tags are great, text recognition is the jam - one of my favorite tips: take a photo at the at the end of your meeting - search by any word written on the board and the note will be recalled!
To start this year well, watch the #GTD video I posted last week; then start using Evernote. It is your catch-all file-cabinet that you take with you everywhere...and then some!
*Make sure to give it the time it deserves during your weekly review. This summer, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Evernote is one of those programs that is weird to get the hang of, but once you do, it will change your life. The secret is to use it for everything. If you use it only for this or that, it will never really make sense for you. I’ve been using it for 5+ years and let me tell you, I hyperventilate a little bit without it. It’s the VERY FIRST THING I load onto a new computer. Over a better browser, over mail, over a calendar. The very first thing.
It took me a while to really hone my method - I tried various things and then discarded them like outgrown shoes. Occasionally I’d abandon it for something newer and shinier, but I always come back. And in the last two years, I’ve discovered a groove that is absolutely life changing. I hope that something here will resonate with you and make your life easier. Here’s how I use it.
1. Put EVERYTHING in it. You cannot overuse Evernote.
- My daughter is at a swim meet. I open a note and call it “Waterford Swim Meet". It auto tags the date and location. I jot down which events she’s in. I take a photograph of the program. I take a handful of photos of her at the meet (terrible photos, I’m far far away) and one of the score board with her time on it when she broke a personal record. All go in the note. As she swims, I jot down her times for each race. On the way out, I throw away the program (no more, “where should I put this, maybe I’ll make a scrapbook someday") and can tell her what she placed, what her times were. I tag the note with three tags: “Leslie", “8th grade" & “swim".
- I just acquired a microwave for over the stove. I open a note and call it “Microwave". I take a photo of the sticker with the model and serial number. I do a quick google search for that model + manual, download the manual and add it to the note. Finally, I photograph the receipt and add it to the note. Done. I throw away box, manual & receipt, knowing I’ll always have them if I need them.
- I’m at Supercuts with my son and I open a note and title it “Boy haircut". In it I jot down which blade he likes for the sides and the top. We stop at the shoe store and buy sneakers. I take a quick photo of the label on the box. I label it shoes and tag it with his name.
- I’m at the doctor with my daughter. I open a note and label it “Dr Adams". I jot down her height and weight, prescriptions and anything else valuable (shots, tests, etc). I tag it “Leslie" “Dr". Later when the bill and the EOB from the insurance company come in, I attach those to this entry.
2. Tag with three things: Who, When, What
- You can get (and I have) crazy elaborate with tags but I’ve found that in order for them to be most useful, you only need those three pieces of info. The’ve never failed me. Who? What? When? I don’t always use tags and I don’t always use them all. But all my tags are one or more of those items.
3. Search here first
- I get a phone call during rehearsal and the daughter says the director doesn’t want her to wear boots on stage, she needs flats, can I get her some black ones real quick? I head to Old Navy, pull up Evernote and search “shoes" and boom, there I’ve got her most recent size.
- I’m filling out paperwork at the high school info night and need to know when a tetanus shot was. I pull up EN and search “tetanus" and get three entries - one for each of us. I grab the one tagged with the right kid, look at the date, and there you go.
- I’m at Lowe’s and shopping for the little bulb in the microwave that illuminates the stovetop. Holy moly, there’s like a million sizes, what? I pull open EN, search for “microwave" and right there on my phone, boom, owners manual for my microwave that I can search through and find the secret code for the right bulb.
- I’m talking to another swim mom about how the kids qualify for certain events and she tells me the time cut off. I pull out EN to see what my child got in that event with a 5 second search of “swim" and “50 back". There’s my answer.
- I’m on the phone with student loan people and they need to know my AGI from line whatever in my taxes last year. Open EN, search for “Taxes" choose the right one and 20 seconds later, I have my answer.
- I’m trying to find a new recipe for couscous and remember that I saw one in the magazine at the drs office a month ago. I open EN and search for “couscous" and there it is. I took a picture of it and EN found the word IN THE PHOTO.
- What’s the name of that orthopedist I saw one time in Myrtle Beach? Open up EN and search for “orth" because I can never spell that word. Luckily, I only get hits for him and Collin’s orthodontist so we’re all good. I simply took a photo of his business card and then threw it away.
- I’m talking to a friend who’s visiting Galveston and can’t remember the name of the pirate that we found who is buried there. Open EN, search for “pirate" and it finds the photograph of my kids standing next to the monument from the word “pirate’ engraved in the marble.
Evernote has replaced my recipe book, my filing cabinet and my filofax. It’s replaced 3 boxes of kid memorabilia in the garage. If I want a timeline, I put “leslie" 1st grade" and automagically I have samples of her work, her art, her schedule, her report cards, name and numbers of her teachers and photos of her…all in a neat timeline.
Because Evernote lives in the cloud, it doesn’t matter if my phone breaks or my house burns down, I’ll always have access. And I’ll always be able to find what I need quickly and not have a home cluttered with “I better not throw this away". It’s absolutely priceless.