My absolute favorite app – Evernote!
I discovered Evernote several years ago when the iPhone was first released. I downloaded it and played with it, but didn’t really get how valuable it was until six months ago when I integrated the Getting Things Done system with Evernote – more on that later. Now I use Evernote all day long and everywhere I go.
What is it? At its core, Evernote is a note-taking app that allows you to electronically remember everything. You can use it to capture your ideas, typed notes, handwritten notes, photos and audio. You can do this on nearly every computer, phone and tablet available. Most importantly, you organize your notes into a powerful task management system.
How does it work? First of all, create a free user account at www.evernote.com. All of your notes will be stored here. Then, download the Evernote application on every computing platform you own – your PC, your Mac, your iPad, your iPhone, Android, etc. All of these applications will automatically sync with the web so your notes are always current everywhere you access them.
How to use it? Whenever you want to remember something, save it in Evernote however it’s most convenient for you. For instance, if you want to remember an article on a web page, you can ‘clip’ that web page and send it right from your browser to Evernote. If you see a recipe you like in a magazine – take a photo and save it as a note. The photo will saved, but here’s a cool feature – the photo is also analyzed and words in the photo will be recognized and searchable! If you are driving you can create a voice note so you can keep organizing and driving safely!
How to really use it: Now you know a little bit about creating notes. The most important and useful feature in Evernote is the ‘Tag’ feature. Evernote is incredibly flexible and gives you complete control over creating and using Tags to identify the notes that you save to make them easier to organize and easier to find. In a simple system, you might create tags like ‘Cooking’ to organize the recipe note that you captured. You might add a note to remember to make an appointment, you might create a common tag ‘@Calls’ to group all the phone calls you need to make. Then, when you are at a good place to make calls, open up the Evernote App and search for all notes tagged with ‘@Calls’ – it’s that easy.
I’ll fill you in on the Getting Things Done system another time, but here’s a few tips to get started using Evernote as a task manager. First, you can have any number of notebooks and tags. In the recipe example above, I keep all of those notes in a ‘Reference’ notebook. I keep notes like appointment reminder note in an ‘Actions Pending’ notebook. This makes it easy to separate notes that are just to remember and notes that require some action.
You can assign as many (or as few) tags as you want to each note. Here’s some ideas for notes requiring action:
- Assign tag(s) indicating WHERE the task should be completed: @Calls, @Home, @Town, @Work
- Assign a tag indicating WHEN the task should be completed: 1-Now, 2-Next, 3-Soon, 4-Later, 5-Someday, 6-Waiting
This is one of the best productivity tools available. I use the PC app when I am at my computer and the iPhone app the rest of the time. It’s a great way to quickly capture ideas and tasks from anywhere. One of my favorite personal things to capture is pictures of wine bottles. If I am at a restaurant and have a great bottle of wine, I take a picture of it so I can try to find it at the grocery store, or at least order it again. There’s not much chance of remembering it otherwise – especially if I drink it!