Tuesday, March 25, 2014

{Almost} Paperless Organizing: Evernote (Post 3)

Today, I will talk about the app Evernote.  Evernote is an app that can be used with multiple devices including iOS and Android, Windows and Mac.

I first began using it a couple of years ago and though it was nice, but I didn't get a better understanding on how to use it until a few weeks ago when I read an ebook called Paperless Home Organization: How to Create A Digital Home Management Binder by Mystie Winckler. Then I had an epiphany of sorts when I viewed a series of videos on a free website called The Secret Weapon.

First, for what purpose do I use Evernote?

I use Evernote to store information that I can access whenever I am connected to the internet -- or even offline using my favorite devices.

Here is a list of some things that I have stored in Evernote:
  • Recipes
  • Receipts
  • Tasks (non-reoccurring)
  • Project information
  • Ideas
  • Someday/Maybe lists
  • Notes (e.g. Sermons, seminars, books)
  • How to....
  • Quotes
  • Restaurant reviews
  • Inventories
  • Blog ideas
  • Honey-Do lists
  • Travel ideas
  • Activity ideas

There are two things to remember about Evernote:
  1. Indiviual notes are stored in Notebooks (and Notebooks can be combined into Stacks).
  2. Notes can be tagged.  This feature is what makes it extremely usable.

How do I use Evernote?

There are several ways to get a note into Evernote.  One way is to simply add a new note and start typing away.  If you are using Evernote on your phone or tablet, you can also put a photo in your note.  If you use Thunderbird for email like I do, you can download an add-on which allows you to easily forward your email to your Evernote account.  If you don't have the add-on, or if you use a different email program, you can email anything to your Evernote account using a special email address that Evernote provides for you.

All new notes are stored in ! Inbox by default and are later transferred to a Notebook.

By default, I have all of my notes go to a notebook that I have named "! Inbox."  The ! in the name is a way of making sure it stays at the top of the list of Notebooks.  Every day (sometimes several times a day), I spend time doing two things to each note in my Inbox:  First I tag it (more about tags later) with as many tags as is appropriate.  Secondly, I send it to a notebook.

How do I retrieve my notes?
I can do a search for certain keywords, and Evernote will give me a list of notes, notebooks, tags, etc. that contain the keywords that I type in.  If I remember which notebook the note is found in, I can look in that notebook.  By default, I view Evernote using the "Top List" view, but there are several different options available.  You use what works for you.  If I remember that it has a certain tag, I can click on the tag and view all of the notes with that tag and look for it there.

What kind of Notebooks do I have?
This screenshot shows the Notebooks and Stacks (stacks are groups of notebooks under one category) that I use.

There are some people who store all of their notes in just two or three notebooks.  As you can see, I utilize a few more than that.  This is just how my brain works.

I can already see from looking at this list of notebooks that I have some changing I need to do.  The empty notebooks should be deleted, and I just realized that there are some notes that need to go in another notebook.

One note about the Recipes.  I have tried so many different things to organize my recipes.  I have had photo albums with index cards (mine is still somewhere, I just need to find it!), I have tried using a Recipe app.  I liked it pretty well, but I didn't like the thought that one day the app may become obsolete and how could I transfer the recipes to another usable format.  I decided a while back that I would store all of my recipes as PDF files and put them in my Dropbox folder so that I could access them using any of my iDevices.  Needless to say, the thought of typing or even cutting and pasting into MSWord and converting to PDF was exhausting.  I even made a start at doing that.  However, when I figured out how to use Evernote, I decided that really, I could just store the recipes in Evernote.  The recipe app had a neat feature that allowed me to email the recipes, one at a time, so I emailed each recipe to my Evernote email address.  Done.  Not only am I able to access each of the recipes in Evernote, but I can add in notes of my own (changes to the recipe and ideas for improvement) and share them with others.

In the case of my Recipes to Try, if we do not like the recipe, I can delete it and not worry about it anymore.

Helpful Tip
Here is a tip:  Put a date in the title of your note.  This is helpful for sorting purposes (use YEAR.MONTH.DAY format -- ex: 2014.03.25 for March 25, 2014) and for quickly determining the date associated with that note.

The screenshot above shows correspondence and receipts for donations to Touch a Life, an organization that provides help to needy children around the world.  We sponsor two little girls who live in Honduras.

In my next post, I will talk about using tags in Evernote.  This was the "aha" moment for me when I learned how to include them.

In the meantime, think about how you can use Evernote.  Could you use the same notebooks that I use? Are there other notebooks that would be better for you?  I'd love to hear some of your thoughts.

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Intro to the Series

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Calendars

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote, Part 2

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote, Part 3

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Wunderlist

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  AnyList

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Final Thoughts
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  1. I have never heard of this but I will be checking this out and seeing if it will work with my IPOD. I am a note person but I lose the notes so this would be way more organized. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, it should work with your iPod, Pat. In my opinion, the app is not as easy to use as the computer program, but you will love having your notes with you! Let me know how it goes for you. And be sure to check out the next post (it comes out either Thursday or Friday, I can't remember which).

  2. 3 Ways to Maximize Productivity With Evernote

  3. Thank you for the link! I have purchased the ebook and I look forward to reading it soon.



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