“Evernote, meet every piece of information I will ever want to find again.”
Well, did you know January is Get Organized Month? And I’m tickled about that because it’s the perfect excuse to share about my favorite discovery: Evernote.
I’ve heard of Evernote for years, but never really got into it for a long time. At this point I’ve been using it for about 9 months and not only do I feel more organized, but I’m always finding more uses or advantages to it and get more excited about what a useful program this is. And that “organizing” is always at my fingertips for instant access. Paper filing can’t do that!
To be honest, at the very beginning, getting started can be a little tricky. Here’s what I wish I’d known:
Each Piece of Info is a Note
Everything you put into Evernote (EN) is a Note. EN does not use the typical hierarchical file/folder structure we are all used to. It basically only goes one level deep, but that really doesn’t matter. The search power of EN eases any need for that type of structure. So you don’t need to worry about how to organize everything, to start with.
So think of each item you want to store (like tear-outs from magazine articles, recipes or quotes) as individual Notes. One “thought” per note, although you can put multiple pages together, like pdf’s (scanned warranties or manuals). Give each Note an appropriate title. TIP+: you can have “untitled” notes, but as you scan the Notes list looking for something, it’s incredibly helpful to see a real title. Just make it something to jog your memory.
Notes go into Notebooks
Next, Notes can be organized by topics called Notebooks. Think of this simple metaphor: imagine you have a Notebook for every topic of your life–business, personal, recipes, Books to Read, Movies to See, receipts, bills, whatever else you need that fits your life. Then every “page” in the Notebook is a Note. For instance, I have a Medical – Eyes notebook. In it are several Notes: a scan of my glasses prescription; pictures I’ve taken of frames I like. I then tagged each of those pictures (Notes) with easily searchable terms, i.e. frames, and the store where the frames are. TIP+: every word in a note is a search term, so don’t worry about getting too specific. Think more in terms of what you are most likely to think of a month from now to find that note. I could even find that prescription by the doctor’s name because he’s on the prescription form I scanned.
There are several formats you can use to work with EN: web app, phone app, and standalone app. I use the standalone app the most.
The left column is my list of notebooks. Once you click on a notebook, the center column is a thumbnail of the notes in that notebook. The right column is the specific note. The very first notebook at the top, “All Notebooks” where all the notes are listed in the order they were added. Sometimes recent notes are easiest found there than trying to come up with a search term.
Notes in Notebooks Get Found Again
The first things I put into EN were all the written notes I had on my desk, like phone numbers or to do lists; each one being its own note. The name of the note was whatever the note was about; I also tagged it with something I’d be sure to remember later: “notes from my desk”. TIP+: the fun thing is, even handwritten notes are searchable. Here you can see several of my handwritten notes with the “notes from my desk” tag.
Ok. that’s enough for now. There is just absolutely no end to the power of EN, but this should be enough to get you started. So how are you going to use Evernote? What types of things do you wish you had a better way of finding?