Remember Everything

I am a huge fan of Evernote for helping to keep track of my digital life. I use it as so much more than a note taking tool and I think that confuses some people. I thought I’d share three ways I use Evernote to help me both remember everything and keep all sorts of things organized. I spend a very large portion of my week in meetings — and most of them end with something that either has to be done or has to be managed. I get hundreds of emails in a given day and most of the time it is almost impossible to put them in a place that lets me follow up the way I should. With so little time in between things, I find that I don’t always have time to read what I am looking at online and want to save pointers to go back to. I get handed tons of pieces of paper each day that I need to organize … I use Evernote to help me do all of that stuff.

Forwarding Email to Evernote

I do this quite a bit to keep things organized and out of my inbox. I try to keep my Gmail inbox as clean as possible — not at zero, but typically with under 30 messages at any given time. That means I have to process email quickly and make sense of them before sending them into my archives. Evernote has a great feature that allows you to establish a custom email address to forward emails to that get automatically converted to notes. The real win here is that all the attachments come along, so not only can I get things out of my inbox, but I let Evernote manage the filing of all the attachment. I drop tags on the notes at various times and move them into the right notebook to offer a degree of organization. From there I can get at what I need with a few clicks or swipes on any of my devices.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 4.09.00 PM

Scan or Photograph Paper to Evernote

Another very powerful strategy I employe is to use Evernote to help me be as paperless as possible. I used to keep folders of paper from all the meetings I attended, now I either scan them directly to Evernote from my office scanner or use the camera on my iPad or iPhone to get them to Evernote. As an Evernote Premium user I get to enjoy the fact that images are searchable — that means once an attached scan or photo hits the Evernote server and comes back it is searchable. Again, dropping some tags on the note allows me to quickly reference everything related to that meeting across all my devices — so much better than carting file folders around all day.

Scanned to Evernote

Evernote Clipper to Annotate and Share Pages

Another thing I find myself doing quite a bit of these days is wanting to “clip” or save pages or posts from across the web either for my own keeping or to share with others. I use the Evernote Web Clipper to grab pages and then mark them up for longer term storage … where it gets interesting is when you combine that with shared notebooks. The thing I like about shared notebooks is the ability to share with specific people from within Evernote or just openly on the web — essentially building an online repository of content to share in an organized way. The Web Clipper also allows you to easily highlight content to draw attention to it … and that sticks to the clipped page once it is shared.

Clipped and Highlighted

So there are three simple ways I find intense value while using Evernote. Obviously there are things it isn’t good for, but more and more I find myself storing quite a bit of content in my Evernote. Do you use Evernote? What are some strategies you use to help you remember everything?

0 thoughts on “Remember Everything

  1. I used to similarly keep my inbox almost empty. I would file every piece of email I received neatly in an appropriately named folder and leave behind only the emails that require my response or action. However, I came to the conclusion that with the advanced search functionality of gmail, it really isn’t necessary. I used to spend significant time keeping my inbox clean for no real benefit. Now I rely on search and flag certain emails for follow up.

    I also maintain a document with a running list of important notes and another which is basically a todo list. I should probably add “convert to OneNote or Evernote to the list.” Have you checked out OneNote? How does it compare to Evernote?

    • I can immediately comment on the email issue — I don’t file anything anymore. I have a bunch of filters that apply gmail tags on certain emails and that’s as advanced as I get. I read it, act on it, and then archive it.

      I have to look at one note. I’ve been hooked on Evernote for years.

  2. Thanks for sharing this strategy Cole, seems it would help many of us who suffer form information overload. My question has to do with teaching however. Do you see or can you imagine how a tool like this might be used to facilitate delivery of a course (either F2F or online)?) I’ve become very interested in curation tools and methods for organizing and arranging not only course content but also the interactions around those elements?

  3. Hi Larry … it is really great to hear from you. Yes, I can see how Evernote could be part of a teaching and learning eco-system. I say eco-system because unless you are ready to give up the functionality associated with an LMS (quizzing in particular) it would be tough to do it all. With that said, I do use Evernote as the center of my administrative and teaching work — I just use it cooperation of other services and applications.

    Evernote has a strong foothold in K-12 and is used for lots of things — portfolio and personal curation are strong points of the application and service. To your question directly, there are things that can be achieved with a shared notebook model — where the teacher (or in partnership with their students) can annotate and curate articles, web sites, PDFs, etc in an ongoing fashion. That is the most direct use. And one thing to see is that every publicly shared note or notebook has a dedicated URL that can be easily embedded as content in an LMS.

    Evernote differs from google docs in that it is not designed to natively allow simultaneous document editing (although there are add on services that enable it), so there is that limitation. If I need that functionality I usually just jump to google docs … at the end of the day, Evernote has in a lot of ways become the replacement to organizing files and sites in folders on hard drives or as bookmarks in my browser.

  4. I thought you might have an angle on that idea Cole!! We have a new program called Tech Lunches. I’d love to host you sharing your views and experiences with Ever Note for this audience, interested? 1-hour long, you give a demo and over of the technology and then we all try it out and discuss the application.

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