Are you looking for new ways to get better organized?
One of the biggest challenges I have when it comes to organizing is what to do with the stuff I want to keep but do not need right now.
In the past, I always ended up having a huge pile somewhere on my home office desk.
Even if I filed something away, I had to remember how I filed it. All that changed for me about two years ago when I started using Evernote.
What is Evernote?
Evernote is free desktop download that works like a large reference file. I like to call it my “external brain.” What is great about this application is that you can store documents, photos, and webpages all in the same place. Everything is keyword searchable. What is really cool is that any text that appears in your photos is also keyword searchable inside Evernote.
If you are new to Evernote, here is a list of 21 ways you can use Evernote to get better organized this year:
1. Place to store favorite quotes – I have a file for my favorite quotes so that I do not forget about them. Every once in a while I will read through the file for inspiration.
2. Store ebooks and online reports – The internet is full of free and useful information but I do not always have the time to read special reports or free ebooks that I want to read. So I have a file in the system for online reading.
3. Keep favorite articles or blog posts – Why not capture a helpful article from SeedTime.com or other blogs so that you do not forget about the principles or action steps you have learned?
4. Catalog illustrations and stories – This is very helpful if you are a writer, blogger, speaker or pastor. Just simply capture stories, illustrations, or statistics that you may end up using later down the road.
5. Vacation organization – If you are going on vacation soon, create a file and collect webpages about hotels, dining and entertainment.
6. Place to capture random ideas – My mind is always coming up with ideas. Sure I may never take action on half of them but it is fun to review from time to time.
7. Create a Reading List folder – I love to read and usually average reading a whole book every week or two. I have a list that I keep of books that I want to eventually read.
8. Reading a good book? – Snap a picture of a page you enjoy and search for the quote, illustration, or points later.
9. Record passwords or any important information – you can use a folder to store passwords that you might want to remember later.
10. Snap pictures of receipts you want to keep for tax purposes and place in a notebook file.
11. Write down a list of movies that you want to watch.
12. Take pictures of important newspaper articles and store them for your kids down the road.
13. Take photos of valuable items in your home as a way to keep track of your home inventory.
14. Make a restaurant listing of places to eat near and around your home.
15. Copy and paste important emails that you want to remember so that you do not have to print it off and file it away.
16. Create a working errand list for the supermarket or hardware store so you can get everything in one trip. Also, record prices on grocery items so that you can know when things are on sale.
17. Snap a photo of every business card you get – All photos are keyword searchable once in the Evernote system.
18. Take photos of prices when you are out shopping in order to compare prices with other stores.
19. Take photos of your car VIN number and license plate for later use.
20. Use Evernote as a time management system – Create folders for to do lists such as calls to make, errands to run, projects, and bills to pay.
21. Write a 101 goals for your life to keep handy – Use a folder like a bucket list to record down things you would like to accomplish while you are alive.
The options are endless.
The point is that if you have a trusted system to place things, you will have less mental anxiety with having to try to remember everything. I have had people contact me asking for certain items and have been able to identify it in 10 seconds (and they agonized over trying to find the same thing for an hour). Think about how much time alone you will save by having a place to put everything. Remember, you do not have to be super-organized. Just get it in Evernote and you can search for it by keywords later.
(Note from Bob: I am an Evernote user as well and love it. The web features are great, but when you couple that with an Evernote application on your phone, it really makes for an incredible system to help keep you organized.)
Great info! I actually use Microsoft OneNote and many of the uses you have listed I do with OneNote…it works great for me! However, I am beginning to move away from Microsoft products, and OneNote is one of the last applications that still has me “with” Microsoft. Have you used OneNote? If so, I would love to know how you compare the two.
@jbledsoejr – I actually do like OneNote. To be honest the more I work online the more online applications and desktop synchronizations I use. I like variety so I work on many different computers. For that reason I love using Google Docs for documents and spreadsheets, Chandler for my time management system, and EverNote for my reference file. Not only can I access my files from any computer but it will sync with my desktop versions. They are constantly adding new helpful features as well. You can easily access it from your phone (like Bob said). That is why I like it over OneNote.
I don’t, but others use it for collecting recipes.
Matthew - www.Adventure-Some.com says
I only recently started using evernote (about a week ago) and it has already come in quite handy. I’m using a number of your suggestions, and will be implementing more of them fairly soon.
I use a number of different computers throughout my day, and it is so nice to have everything there, ready for me. I played with the search feature today, and it’s wonderful!
I have quite a few folders of notes that I have taken (mostly from books read, but also ideas I’ve had, etc) that I am going to scan and upload. Then I can clear out that paperwork that I only peruse occasionally, but still have the info available when I do want it.
Clipping this into evernote for my next roundup!
i have a question – i just started using evernote and i have stored a few passwords and account numbers there, is this a safe thing to do? it makes me nervous.
Jeanne Petrus-Rivera says
I use Dashlane for passwords. I love it!
@paige – thanks for the question. of course, do your own due diligence, but what I do is with sensitive info is choose to sync local meaning that it is only stored on your local computer.
I have used Evernote for several years and have really come to appreciate being able to store and find practically anything.
Regarding #15 above, it is possible to email directly into Evernote. This is useful because instead of copying-and-pasting I just put my Evernote address into my address book and I can forward any email (and attachment) I want to save.
If you go to the Evernote web site and get into your account details there is an email address specifically for this purpose.
How do I access my Evernote from another computer? (I love this application!)
As you install evernote there is One folder to’ store notes. How can I add a copule of fordees for specifica notes (as for Office notes or homepage notes and so on).
I’ve been using Evernote for a couple of weeks now and it was mainly to use it as a GTD/To Do list type application. I’ve found the lack of native organization a bit erksome (even though I know the search feature helps me find whatever I need, but sometimes I just want to get a big picture overall of where I’m at and what needs to be done and I know there’s immense possibility for customized organization). I guess all this to say, I have yet to find the best way to organize my Evernotes and how it things are organized is one of my personal quirks/passions.
Also, has anyone else noticed that trying to clip from an rss reader (like Google Reader) doesn’t actually clip the article information and the URL (that should be linked to the post)? I found that out the hard way after going back to look at a bunch of clippings for blog post research. Sigh.
Arni Karlsson says
Jonathan, do you know how to sync Chandler with Blackberry? I would really like to know. BTW, I like your approach to using those three apps, I use Google Docs and Evernote, and have been using Outlook and iCal but not quite been happy with them.
Dana Ashley says
I have just discovered Evernote – to say I’m new to it would be an exaggeration – so how would I implement my Bible Study Fellowship work into it? I know the notes are copyrighted so I would need to scan them in but any other suggestions?
Carol J. Alexander says
At your recommendation, Jonathan, I tried Evernote. I love it. However, there are a few things that I had to get around.
1) Immediately upon using it with my phone, I noticed my battery draining within a few hours. The constant syncing was sucking my battery life dry. So I set it to sync only when I told it to.
2) The SD card on my phone filled up. (This was mostly from photos and music.) This prevented me from creating anything new on my phone…like a grocery list. That is a major disappointment because the beauty of the program is that it is accessible on all my devices. So, a new, empty SD card has been purchased.
Otherwise, I love everything about this program.
Kim M says
I have used MS OneNote in similar ways for years. OneNote now has phone apps that they keep improving and they have an online option as well as the desktop. One of my favorite and most-used features (which Evernote may have as well, I’m not sure) is the Print To OneNote option, which is especially handy for keeping online receipts organized without using paper.
I have individual notebooks (files) for various craft interests and can keep patterns and instructions I find online organized, even videos. I also have a “Medical Journal” for myself and one for my husband where I document all medical information, notes from each doctor visit, and medication lists. This has proven very valuable when in the emergency room with my husband I was able to just open that notebook/file and hand my phone to the nurse taking down information. The possibilities are endless.
Are you still using Evernote even though there are rumors of its demise?
Still am at this point!