Do you remember where you were? I do…like it was yesterday. How could I forget? The day I met Evernote changed my life.
Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock
Actually, I’m totally serious…about remembering I mean. I remember that day with extreme clarity. It was at least three years ago. I was doing a training event in Cedar Rapids, IA. On a break one of the trainees pulled me aside and showed me this cool app he had on his iPhone. He had no idea what he was starting.
And in some ways it really has changed my life. I don’t want to sound goofy, or too much like a techno-geek, but this tool has made an enormous difference in the organization of my entire life, not just work.
For those of you who don’t know already, I have a wife and nine children, own my own business, pastor a small church, lead a community coalition and am on two Boards. So, I have a few things going on in my life. But, so do you.
Like you, I have an overload of input in my life. Multiple email accounts, snail mail, texts, Slack channels, conversations, meetings, projects, blogs and books I read, websites I visit, and the list could go on and on. It makes me a little tired, just typing all that out.
Evernote has completely changed the game for me. I keep everything in Evernote. Everything I can digitize, that is. It’s the most amazing, electronic filing cabinet I’ve ever found. I have very little paper left in my life except my faithful Bible and journal. I still like hardcopy versions of those, although I did journal in Evernote for a couple of years.
Here are six (6) quick ways that Evernote has transformed things for me and can for you too.
Peace of Mind
The nicest part about it is that I know where and how to find pretty much everything I need within this robust little piece of software. Now, I’m a pretty organized person by nature. That’s putting it mildly. Just ask my wife, children and old college roommates. That said, I’m confident that this tool can serve you well no matter what your organizational bent.
1. It significantly reduces mind traffic and storage space. The brain is an amazing thing, and it’s unbelievably smart. Your brain is smart enough to know when you need to remember something. So, if you don’t have a safe place to put it where your brain knows you’ll find it when you need it, it works desperately to hold onto it for you.
That causes what is known as mind traffic, and in this day and age, it looks like the Eisenhower Expressway during rush hour, for those of you in Chicago. If you’re not from Chicago, just substitute your least favorite freeway or tollway from Houston, Los Angeles or New York.
The other problem is that our brain only has so much capacity. At some point, it starts dropping things in order to pick other things up. And, it makes those decisions for you, like it or not.
Evernote reduces the mind traffic and gives me reliable “offsite” storage. My brain knows that when I put something there I will be able to find it when I need it. I cannot even begin to tell you what mental and emotional relief that provides while trying to manage everything going on in my life.
2. It’s a one-stop shop for storing everything I need to keep. I could fill an entire blog post telling you all of the different items I put in Evernote. Here is just a small sample.
- Meeting notes (from every genre of my life)
- My personal vision, mission, and values
- My annual goals and my weekly updates/notes
- Important emails I need to keep
- Brochures I want to keep for reference
- Travel itinerary and reservation confirmations
- My prescription info for re-ordering purposes
- Photos of all my license plates
- I have all the blogs or newsletters I subscribe to mailed directly to Evernote
- My packing list for business travel
- Receipts I need to keep
- Photos of anything else you want to store and organize
I could literally give you at least 10 more without much thought. But you get the idea. If you can email it, scan it, or snap a photo of it, you can store it in there.
3. It is so easy to get things into it. Here are just a few quick ways you can get things into Evernote.
- Create notes directly
- Drag and drop files
- Forward emails
- Import files of any type
I use a free app called Scannable to scan documents with my phone or iPad. When I finish a meeting it usually takes only 10-60 seconds to quickly scan all of the hardcopy documents and email the files directly into my Evernote inbox.
4. The search engine and tools are powerful and simple to use. This could be a blog post all in itself, but I’ll give you the short version. It may seem a little overwhelming to be dumping so much stuff into one place. I have well over 3,000 notes in my Evernote. I’m sure you are thinking, “How will I ever find what I put into it?”
That’s a very fair question. Maybe finding stuff isn’t your forte. Evernote has taken care of that. It has some very basic, but robust features that allow you to create notebooks (like a folder or a file drawer) or tags (labels or attributes). These have proven extremely sufficient for me.
I actually have one main notebook I call “Cabinet.” I have 1,191 notes in that “drawer” as of this writing (and growing by the day), but with the tags feature I can usually find what I am looking for in less than 30 seconds.
If that isn’t attractive enough, Evernote’s search feature is incredibly powerful and relatively simple to use with some practice. And, if you pay for the Premium version of the software, Evernote will even search for terms within your files that are attached to your notes. Very cool.
5. It has a great knowledge base and is inexpensive. This is a 2-for-1. I’ve always been able to get an answer to my questions in minutes by taking advantage of their extensive knowledge base. Evernote is also supported by a great community of users who regularly post articles or videos with tips and hacks for more productive use.
The cost is also just right. The free version is probably more than enough for most people who will casually use it. Then there are $35 or $70/year options depending on the different features or support that you are looking for.
For power users like me $50/yr is a drop in the bucket and a no-brainer. That is a very competitive price.
6. It syncs across all my devices. This is very basic, but it’s extremely powerful. I can access all of my notes on my phone, iPad or laptop. This versatility is huge in the fast-paced, fluid and global world we live in.
Evernote reduces the mind traffic and gives me reliable “offsite” storage.
Give It a Test Drive
If you’ve never used Evernote, I encourage you to try it out for six weeks. If you don’t like it you can always abandon ship. But, I doubt that you will if you really give it a chance.
I make no commission for promoting this. I only do it because I love to help you figure out ways to get more of what you want and less of what you don’t in your life. I’d love to hear your feedback on this topic.
Question: What is your favorite productivity tool? [question]evernote-life-easy[/question]