Organization using Evernote

I’ve been making an effort be more organized this year and a large part of that includes managing my digital life. I’ve been using a number of tools (including KeePassX which Amber mentioned a while back) and one that I’ve found to be particularly useful is Evernote.

Evernote is a free note-taking tool that helps you store and access all sorts of information including text, screenshots, and photos. It’s extremely easy to set up and through the use of “notebooks”, tags and advanced search functions, it helps you store and then locate everything that used to reside on Post-it Notes on your desk. The information is synced to the “cloud” and can be accessed through a desktop client, mobile applications and the web interface, so you’re never left without your information.

There are countless ways to use Evernote, but I wanted to highlight a few that I’ve found really useful so far.

  1. Searching within photos. One amazing feature of Evernote is that it can scan your uploaded images for text and make them searchable! You can use a camera to shoot a photo of a business card, meeting notes on a whiteboard, or even your handwritten notes from a class or meeting and it will make them searchable so you can access the content later from your computer. This is extremely easy if you have a smartphone with a camera.
  2. To-do lists. A logical use for a note-taking program is to-do lists, but this can also include grocery lists, personal wish lists, books-to-read lists and lists of web sites on a certain topic. If you use tags, you can easily filter the entries and if you have a smartphone, the lists follow you everywhere (like to the store!)
  3. Archiving resources and inspiration. There are plugins written to use Evernote with Safari and Firefox, so if you navigate to a page that you want to archive, you can highlight the text you want to save and click a button on your browser window. It’s saved as a note so you don’t have those “where did I find that link again?” moments! You can also capture recipes, poems, photos, etc., so you can store and search sources of personal inspiration.
  4. Basic information. Have you ever had a piece of information that you couldn’t quite remember, but had to look up often? Things like, “what’s my central office’s mailing address?”, “how many cups in a quart?” or “what’s the brand of printer paper I really like?” can now be taken out of your brain and stored in a personal information library. As a designer, there are lots of printing-related information that I have to access often, so I have a notebook for technical information that is great to have at my fingertips!
  5. Draft writing. I’ve been using Evernote as a place to draft text that I’m writing. Blog posts, static content for the web, lesson plans, speeches and letters can all begin life as a note in Evernote. It’s an uncluttered environment that allows you to put your thoughts down quickly and even sync them with another machine to continue writing at a later time.

Those are just a few of the uses I’ve found for Evernote and I certainly haven’t missed having the paper clutter on my desk! It’s free to open an account, so give it a try and put some of your uses for Evernote down in the comments.

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David Gnojek

I'm the art director/designer for the KU Center for Research on Learning. I also enjoy photography and music.