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Organizing My Life With Evernote

by Arianne Foulks

May 23, 2013

Evernote logo

Evernote is an ingenious program that can be used for note-taking and archiving data. I realize that doesn’t sound particularly amazing, but I’ve been using Evernote for almost two years, and it has been oh so necessary to me – one of those things where I just don’t know how I was existing before I started using it.

I have come up with many ways to sort and organize the info I need for my work, as well as home and family data/papers, and my crafting plans and recipes.

What to know:

  • Evernote can be used on your computer desktop, on your phone or tablet, or in a web-based interface.
  • You can create different “notebooks” to store different kinds of data in, and different notebook “stacks” to really keep things separate. For instance, I have many different work notebooks, then one stack called Personal in which I keep all my stuff that isn’t business-related (with notebooks inside that stack).
  • You can create tags to further categorize your data.
  • You can email things directly to Evernote.
  • You can “clip” webpages to save them straight to Evernote.
  • You can share notebooks with co-workers, family members, or even clients.

How do I use Evernote?

How don’t I use Evernote? I used to have dozens (er, hundreds) of little text files running all over my computer. Form letters, code snippets, lists, instructions, etc. To track something down, I’d have to remember what folder I put it in, and what I called it.

I also would have little piles of paper all over the house, without a good system for filing or finding anything again.

Now I just jump into Evernote and use the search or browse my tags to find what I’m looking for. Here are some of the many things I use Evernote for:

Archive my published writing. I subscribe my Evernote email address to my newsletter and blog posts, so that a backup/archive of them is automatically saved when they’re published. I’m also experimenting with using IFTTT to do the same, but with the correct notebook and tags, so I don’t have to do any work at all. I also save any press we receive to Evernote.

Read it later. If I come across an article online that looks useful, but I don’t have time to read it, I use the web clipper to save it to Evernote and tag it “read it later.”

Recipes. I have a huge cache of recipes saved and tagged in Evernote. Evernote saves the text and photos, and has a link back to the site, if I want to go back to read comments or find the printable version. After making a recipe, I tag it with a star rating system so I can remember how much I liked it. It’s handy to always have a recipe book in my pocket, since I can use Evernote on my phone as well!

A peek at my desserts tag

Receipts & coupons. Sometimes I feel like I should save a receipt for something, but don’t want a big pile of paper receipts to sort through later. I take a picture with my phone, save it to Evernote, and tag it “taxes” and title it with the store name and date. I do the same thing with coupons, storing coupon codes, store names, and expiration dates.

Travel. I keep order confirmations for things such as airplane tickets and hotel reservations in Evernote, tag it with the place I’m going, and then I can pull up any necessary info or ID numbers on my phone while at the airport. I also have started to keep standard packing lists for various types of trips in Evernote so I can easily remember what to bring (and amend the list on the go when I find I’ve forgotten something important at the cabin!).

Business paperwork. I save all my business paperwork, including tax forms and info, employee paperwork and the like, so I can bring it up come tax time.

Making to-do lists. You can use checkboxes in Evernote to make yourself simple to-do lists.

whale shark
Whale Shark, by Calvin

Kids’ art. My kids have started making some very interesting art that I want to save and remember. Often they do this on their dry erase easel, and rather than save up a big stack of art in a closet somewhere, I just snap a picture, save it to Evernote, tag it “kid-art” and the kid’s name and date, and I have a digital archive of each kid’s path as an artist.

Instructions for my team. I share my notebooks with my team at Aeolidia, and I can save instructions for how to do tasks in Evernote to learn and refer back to.

Code snippets. Our developers can save bits of code that they re-use or want to share in our Developers notebook in Evernote.

Portfolio and testimonials. I save and tag testimonials that our clients send in so that they’ll be at my fingertips when it comes time to update the portfolio or write a blog post about them.

Draft emails. Sometimes I have an email to write that will take some planning and revising, such as instructions to a client, an apology, or a request to another business. Rather than do this in email, where the browser may crash or I might accidentally send instead of saving the email, I prepare drafts in Evernote and paste them into email when done.

Social media sharing. I like to share links to useful small biz-oriented articles on Twitter, Facebook, and via my newsletter. I gather and save these links in Evernote, with a “sharing” tag, so I always have a cache to gather from.

Blog post ideas. When I have an idea for a blog post, I add it to my note that contains blog post ideas. I also start drafts of blog posts in Evernote and save useful messages sent to clients to turn into blog posts in the future. I like to put my very rough ideas in Evernote instead of WordPress so my WordPress drafts consist mostly of articles that could be made ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Keep track of client/project info. We save information about each client and project in Evernote, and can easily look up details about scope, cost, changes, and client contact info there.

Planning projects. I’ve used Evernote to save ideas, info, and research for a bathroom remodel, for purchasing an iPad, and for planning parties.

Lists, lists, lists. I love lists! Some of my lists include movies to watch, music to listen to, my shopping wish list, and gift ideas. Evernote can replace any digital or pen-and-paper method you’ve had for keeping track of ideas and info.

What do you think?

Do you use Evernote? What clever tricks do you  make it do for you? If you don’t use Evernote, what types of information do you feel you really could stand to get organized?

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