Around the time I wrote my first post about Evernote, those wonderful developers released a huge update that I had no clue about! This update included one specific feature that has changed the way I work.
The reminders feature is really three tools in one beautiful package.
It allows you to assign a due date to notes.
It allows you to keep important notes at the top of your notebook.
It can act as a task manager. (as opposed to a task list inside of a note, which I have never used)
I now use reminders to keep track of everything I need to do, and I organize them based on their category or event.
This combined with Evernote’s Web Clipper extension for Chrome has made Evernote exponentially more useful to me. When someone emails me a request to do something, I simply create a note from the email inside of Gmail. I can even put it in the proper notebook and set it as a reminder!
The one thing it doesn’t do is allow you to create a recurring task. For this reason, I keep my recurring tasks in Any.do.
If you’re not using Chrome or Firefox you’re doing yourself an injustice. I personally prefer Chrome because of it’s powerful integration with my Google account. My favorite feature is being able to view tabs open in my Chrome browser on other devices. A lot of times I’ll leave something like a UPS shipment tracking page open on my computer at work and I can easily access that page from anywhere I am signed into Chrome.
If I worked on projects with a team on a regular basis I would use Trello. My initial idea was to use it to track needs for events at church didn’t pan out. It just made more sense to use Evernote for that. Trello is a lot like what Google Wave was. A very visual experience and built well for collaborating with others.
Ideas is really useful for content creators. You type whatever idea you have and it will organize it based on keywords in the idea itself. It’s actually not as complex or sophisticated as it sounds, but it’s very useful. I use it to keep track of blog post ideas. I can easily view all blog posts that have the keyword “productivity” in them, and then look through them to figure out what I want to write about.
I wish I worked in an environment that allowed me to follow a specific routine so I could use 30/30 more often. Unfortunately I always have things come up last minute. 30/30 can be used to schedule your day, your work out routine or to keep track of how long you spend on different tasks.
Some people don’t like Pandora because you can’t choose exactly what you listen to. If you are one of those people, Songza is NOT for you. With Songza you choose what to listen to based on what you are currently doing. Working, studying, partying or sleeping, they have a personally crafted playlist for you! I’m currently listening to this playlist at a low volume while Soundroom is creating an atmosphere for my writing.
If you missed part 1 of this series, you may want to check it out. I talk about why I use Evernote instead of one of the other bazillion note apps out there.
Before I get into explaining how I use Evernote, let me first make sure you understand these two things about the application. You can sort notes in two ways. Notes are stored in notebooks and can have labels (called tags). Having two levels of sorting is incredibly powerful because it allows you to view all notes that contain a specific tag regardless of which notebook they belong to.
The biggest thing that Evernote helps me with is keeping a clean desk. Every day I am handed countless pieces of paper that require some sort of action to be taken. 90% of the time the paper itself isn’t important, I just need the information on the paper. At some point in the day (usually when I get to work, or before I leave) I will take all of the paper on my desk and create a new note in Evernote with a picture of the paper. I will then title the note and give it any appropriate tags.
For a while this was all I would do, but I quickly discovered that notes would be forgotten and many tasks would go by without being completed. To solve this I created tags for each day of the week. When I create the note I add the tag for whatever day I need to look at the note on.
For example, tonight we had a men’s event and one of our staff brought me a request for mailing labels that was from one of our Sunday School teachers. I immediately pulled out my phone, opened Evernote and created a new note with a picture of the hand written note. I then titled it “Mailing Label Request” and then gave it the tag “Friday” so that I remember to do it the next day. The final step is always the most satisfying… throwing the piece of paper away.
You might be saying to yourself, “Kyle, how do you remember to check the daily tag every day?” Easy. I created a recurring task in Any.DO (my preferred todo list app) to remind me to check it.
One of the things people say about Evernote is that the more you use it, the better it gets. This is true, but you have to learn to adapt your notebook structure to ensure maximum efficiency.
After using Evernote for a few months I discovered that one notebook (called Church) had a large amount of notes in it making it difficult to find the note I’m specifically looking for. Tags can help with this, but I wanted a better way to organize my notes so I created 6 sub-notebooks inside the Church notebook.
In your Evernote settings you can set a specific notebook to be your default notebook. I have mine set to “Church:To Sort”. This notebook is simply a catch-all notebook for all new notes. This saves me time when creating the note because I don’t have to think about changing the notebook the note should be in. Instead, later when I’m at my desk I go through the sort folder and put notes where they belong. I may eventually move this notebook outside of the church notebook system, but for now that’s where I have it.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
There are a lot more things I use Evernote for, but this is the majority of it. I’ll continue mentioning Evernote as I proceed in this series.
After reading this post, be sure to check out my updated post where I talk about one key feature added to Evernote that I don’t talk about here!
The central core of my productivity is based around Evernote. This is the same song that thousands of bloggers have been singing for years, but for many of those years I was singing a different tune. I was singing a tune with a bit more bounce* to it.
*My apologies for the lame pun. The punchline is just around the corner.
Over the years I have learned that it is better to choose an app that has good interconnectivity with other apps than it is to choose a “better” app that lacks these sharing features. This means that many apps are chosen simply because other apps can communicate with it. This is the main reason why I switched from SpringPad to Evernote about a year ago.
I have used SpringPad almost since it’s release in 2008. I read an article about how it was more than just a place for notes (comparing it to Evernote which was released just 6 months earlier), it was a digital personal assistant. At the time, Evernote seemed too limited, especially in comparison to SpringPad. The main selling point for me was that there were no limitations on the amount of data you could transfer and store on their servers.
Fast forward to today.
SpringPad has changed. It has added a lot of really neat features, but unfortunately I have no need for any of them. They have added a lot of cool notification services. For instance, you can create a wish list on SpringPad of things you want to buy and SpringPad will let you know when a product drops in price. That’s cool and all, but I don’t have a need for that. They’ve also added a LOT of social features. You can subscribe to other people’s notebooks and follow their activity, but that is only useful if you know a lot of people who use SpringPad. But again, that’s not what I need.
What I need is a service that will allow me to send it anything I need to remember later. News articles, blog posts or pictures of anything from business cards to Post-It Notes* that have been sitting on my desk all day.
Could SpringPad do all of this? Absolutely. The problem is, SpringPad does SO MUCH MORE! That is usually a good thing, but instead it just becomes a distraction and gets in the way of my work.
The last straw.
Then comes the issue of interconnectivity. Almost every other app in my list of apps has the ability to send things to Evernote. I don’t think any of them can do the same with SpringPad. This makes the choice very simple.
Evernote is the perfect service for collecting and organizing all of your information in one place.
Wow, that took up a lot more text than I expected to, and I didn’t even mention the fact that Evernote has apps available for pretty much every OS, including desktop. In the next post I’ll actually start talking about HOW I use Evernote, not just WHY.