Why Evernote?

Since I don't begin grad school until this summer, I plan on sharing how stay organized and productive at home, as a freelance musician, and working as a substitute teacher until. Once grad school starts, and I develop some systems there, I’ll begin to share more in regards to education.

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I am in no way a visual artist or designer of any kind, but good design has always appealed to me. Good design brings out my creativity. From a room that makes me want to work or study, to a beautiful app, to Apple’s newest sexy piece of hardware, design is something I pay attention to.

The other side of that is I can’t stand clutter. I cannot get any work done or focus until my desk is clear. That doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t make clutter. It just means I have to work hard to stay on top of it.

This is where Evernote comes into play.

Evernote is far more than a note taking app. Whenever someone asks me what Evernote is, I always describe it as a digital filing cabinet.

Here are some examples of things you can keep in Evernote:

  • Receipts
  • Instruction Manuals
  • Recipes
  • Design Inspiration
  • Class or Sermon Notes
  • The Name of That Thing Your Friend Recommended To You
  • Important Emails
  • Serial Numbers

So why use Evernote instead of an actual filing cabinet?

Because everything is digitized, it becomes significantly easier to find and is available whenever you need it.

Evernote has an amazing search feature. It can search text in notes, tags, notebooks, and even text in pictures you save. This means if you take a picture of a receipt from lunch at Chic-fil-a, and you type “Chic-fil-a” into the search bar, Evernote will read the receipt and pull it up along with any other relevant notes.

Also, because Evernote is cloud based, it is available wherever you need it.

One of the best examples of this was when my car battery was replaced. My stereo reset itself and was flashing all sorts of annoying colors. If I still had the paper manual, I would have to dig it out of my glove box, find the right page, and reset the stereo. But because I keep a pdf manual in Evernote, I can pull out my iPhone, do a quick search for the manual as well as search for what I’m trying to do within the manual. I know that whatever device I’m on.

Let’s say you’re sold on looking into Evernote more, where do you get started?

I won’t go into the details of how to download the application, set up an account, or the differences between the free and premium versions of Evernote. You can check out their website for that. I will however give a few pointers to get you started.

If you're new to Evernote, some terms to be familiar with are Stacks, Notebooks, and Tags. In keeping with the filing cabinet metaphor:

  • Notes are the individual files or pieces of paper you would store in a filing cabinet.
  • Notebooks would be a folder holding multiple notes on the same topic.
  • Stacks are like a drawer where multiple notebooks can be grouped
  • Tags are like colored tabs connecting information throughout all stacks and notebooks.

If you’re like me, the thought of organizing your life in these ways is already exciting you. Most people though aren’t freaks like me, and might feel a little overwhelmed. Evernote is incredibly powerful and customizable which might make it intimidating to start with. But look around at my other posts on Evernote for my current setup.

The only other pointer I will give is when you are starting out, put everything you can in Evernote. I often hear of people saying they started using it, but never developed a habit and eventually gave it up. For me, because I store everything there, I never forget to use it. It is second nature. Work hard to try to store as much as you can for a month in Evernote before giving it up.

That is it for now. My next post will discuss some different methods people use to organize notes in Evernote as well as a detailed post of how I use it.