What do you use to manage your projects, lists, receipts, and/or notes? How do you keep track of things you need to do, and what has already been done? Do you reach for your trusty stack of Post-It note pad when an idea strikes?
I used to have Post-It notes stuck to my monitor, multiple notepads with barely legible words scribbled on them scattered on my desk, numerous Word documents on my desktop, and a spiral-bound notebook that I kept all of my great ideas in — a notebook that I never referenced. And on the rare occasion that I did, I could barely make out what I had written (in my defense, I’m a lefty — we notoriously have horrendous handwriting).
I finally came to the point where I knew my ‘system’ wasn’t working for me anymore. I needed a more sophisticated way to manage both my professional and personal life.
So I set out on a hunt for a better solution. I tested a multitude of different tools (Google Keep, OneNote, Simplenote, etc.), but none of them had the functionality I sought. I eventually came across Evernote and decided to give it a try. After using it for the past few months, it’s hard to remember how I got by without it.
What is Evernote?
Evernote is a free cloud-based application that can store just about anything you can think of — typed notes, your grocery list, audio from this morning’s sales meeting, that article you’ve been meaning to read, your hotel confirmation, and more.
My favorite explanation of Evernote was written by Sara Caputo, a productivity coach, consultant, and trainer based in Santa Barbara, CA:
Think of Evernote as a way to bring together all the loose ends lurking in your brain or on your desk. This is a fast, efficient and easy way to streamline multiple areas of your life and free up bandwidth in your mind so you can focus, rather than try to remember what that song was that you heard this morning on the radio you wanted to download later.
Evernote can be used on your computer, via the browser or the desktop app, or on your smartphone or tablet. The app will sync your data across your devices, making it accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.
With Evernote, you organize your notes into notebooks, just like you put your files into folders on your computer. For example, you could create a notebook for the project Recipes. Next, you could create sub-notebooks within that notebook for different meal types, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner. Then you could place your Chicken Parmesan note in the dinner notebook. It’s kind of like putting your January ’14 expense report spreadsheet (a note) in your Expense Report folder (a notebook), which is in your Documents folder (making it a stacked notebook).
Click on the image below for further clarification.
Evernote is definitely worth considering because it:
- Syncs across all of your devices — you can access to your notes just about anywhere
- Makes it easy to share your notes with others via email, social media or direct URL
- Has an option to set reminders on any notes or tasks you have
- Has a robust search function that allows you to quickly search through your notebooks to find exactly what you’re looking for
- Can identify text in images you upload and makes them searchable
10 Cool Things You can do with Evernote
- Capture Great Ideas — Don’t ever forget another great idea again — use Evernote to type, write or record your ideas.
- Take notes — Type or write your notes. Or if you prefer a pen and pad, photograph your notes once you’re done and send them to Evernote (Evernote will make your notes searchable).
- Take pictures — Capture images of things you want to remember later, such as whiteboard meeting notes, or that new wine you tried.
- Create lists — Create to-do lists, shopping lists, or gift idea lists. You could even create a list for books you want to read, movies you want to watch, or restaurants you want to try.
- Organize recipes — Store and organize digital copies of your recipes. Tip: I don’t even print recipes anymore. I just open the recipe I want in Evernote, put my tablet in its stand and delay the screen timeout. I also have a ‘kitchen stylus’ so my sticky fingers don’t touch the screen.
- Plan Events or Trips — Store your itineraries, reservations, confirmation numbers, maps, tickets, boarding passes, contact information and everything else you might need when planning your event or trip.
- Portable Marketing Brochure – Store photos of your company’s products, services, events and projects, or attach datasheet pdfs and PowerPoint presentations to show your current and potential customers on the go.
- WebClipper — use the WebClipper browser extension to take screenshots of an article, a simplified version of the article (makes it printer friendly), a selection of an article, or the full page. You can even add annotations with Evernote’s built-in markup tool.
- Track expenses — Keep photos of your expenditures and receipts to make tax time or reimbursement easier
- Store Business Cards – Photograph the next business card you receive and send it to Evernote. Since Evernote can recognize the text on the card, you can later search for “Courtney”, “IEC”, or any other information you can recall about your new contact.
Why We Use It
The IEC Marketing Department uses several different tools to make sure we stay organized and get the job done. While we’ve only been using Evernote for a few months, it has already become something we can’t function without. We use it to organize and keep track of important documents for events and meetings, share information, take notes, record audio from meetings, photograph receipts, and more.
There is so much more to Evernote than what I just covered, but this information should provide you with a good overview of the service. Once you really get into Evernote, you should definitely check out browser extensions, compatible apps, and more.
If you’re interested in setting yourself up with an Evernote account, Evernote has a great guide to help you get started.
What do You Use?
What tool(s) do you use as your personal or professional project management tool?