I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a zillion tips on how to use Evernote and other note-keeping apps — but all seem geared at freelancers or entrepreneurs. So we thought we’d do a roundup of some top tips for busy working women, but we want to hear from you guys: DO you use Evernote or a similar system? HOW do you use it, and what are your favorite tips?
A bit of background: Evernote is a web/app-based program that is billed as being a digital brain. You can use it for almost anything: project planning; note-taking; storing and organizing things that can include to-do lists, travel details, grocery lists, and gift lists; and much more. You can organize your notes and other content into notebooks (with or without tags), clip content from ebooks and webpages, send designated types of emails to your account, create checklists and reminders, save images, save PDFs and other files (which become searchable), share content with other people, record audio, take photos and scan documents (e.g., business cards, whiteboard notes, takeout menus, product warranties, receipts), add hand-drawn pictures or handwritten notes, and sync across your devices. Evernote also works with many other applications, like Google Drive (beta), Scanner Pro, IFTTT, Pocket, and DocuSign. You can use Evernote for free (several features plus 60 MB new uploads each month) or choose one of the paid plans.
Of course, other programs are similar to Evernote — and considering the recently-announced price increase, if you want your info synced on more than two devices, now is a great time to be aware of Evernote alternatives as well, such as:
- OneNote – Lifehacker just did a showdown comparing Evernote and OneNote.
- Google Keep and Google Drive – Tech Republic recently discussed how to ditch Evernote in favor of Google apps.
- Some of the functionality but not everything:
- B-Folders – not very easy to save articles beyond copy/paste, but: very secure, includes contacts, syncs across desktops and Androids; Kat’s written of her love for it for keeping track of various lists.
- Pinterest – nice way to save articles or recipes for later. Con: it often only works if there’s a picture in the article to pin (since it’s a graphic search engine). Also, you can’t make to-do lists or save things like emails.
- To-do list apps like Remember the Milk, Wunderlist, Teuxdeux, Todoist, and more.
- iPhone Notes app – allows you to make buying lists, recipes, and more; can access on your PC through iCloud.
- Meal planning apps like Pepperplate or Cozi (family scheduling, grocery shopping, recipe keeper and more).
Here are some of our best tips for using Evernote and other similar apps — readers, what are yours?
Store interesting articles, emails, and newsletters more efficiently
Every so often I see an article or get an email newsletter that looks incredibly helpful for some topic of interest — that I just don’t have time to take action on it now, either because I’m too busy (such as easy ways to learn a new language), I’m not there yet (such as how to get on a board), or I’m just collecting ideas for some future project (like preparing my own city guides for business travel). I may save them in my inbox or print them out, and may even label them — but ultimately I totally forget about them. But you can just send those on to your Evernote account to be clipped and filed. Another tip: you can even sign up for newsletters using your Evernote or OneNote email address, meaning you can bypass your email account and receive the messages in the app instead (via michaelhyatt.com).
Use Evernote with Getting Things Done
Combine Evernote or OneNote with IFTTT
These are just a few things you can do when you’re using Evernote in tandem with IFTTT: (1) have particular emails in Gmail, e.g., starred emails, or receipts, automatically forwarded to Evernote, (2) have Fitbit send your daily activity into a note in Evernote, (3) keep track of Craigslist searches, e.g., if you’re looking for a job or an apartment, have Craigslist send Evernote every new posting that matches your search options. (You can also connect IFTTT to OneNote.)
Keep track of your closet and clothes wishlist.
Keep photos of clothes and accessories you’ve bought recently (sizes too!) to keep a digital closet. (This is somewhat similar to Kat’s method for remembering what clothes she’s bought for her sons.) If you’re building a wardrobe or looking for things to replace, you can keep a very limited clothes shopping list in the app as well.
Organize your job search
You can keep a running list of positions you’ve applied for (and add updates such as “followed up 7/7,” “interview scheduled for 7/18”), add new job postings as you find them (using text and hyperlinks and/or the Web Clipper tool), use tip #6 above for Craigslist job ads, and much more. Here are several more ideas from About.com.
Keep price lists, shopping lists, and specialized product info
Whether it’s keeping a comparison price list so you can take advantage of bulk pricing, a specialized shopping list (everything you need for a house renovation, for example), or specialized product info (such as taking snaps of your printer cartridge or refrigerator filter info), you can keep everything on hand with a digital app.
Digitize your collection of business cards
Using your iPhone/iPad or Android device (with the Premium Plan), you get rid of that stack of business cards you’ve collected by scanning and storing them. Evernote will automatically use the information from each business card to create a contact note with the person’s name, title, company, and contact info; an image of the card; and even a photo and LinkedIn profile info. Evernote can even add the person to your device’s Contacts (either automatically or manually, depending on which device you’re using and which setting you choose). You can keep track of who you’ve met, what you’ve talked about, use checklists to keep track of action items, and even clip articles on various contacts (such as clipping someone’s recently published article or paper to remember the next time you talk to them).
Keep business or personal travel information handy
I’ve found that using Evernote is very helpful for keeping all your travel information, documents, and receipts in one place. For a recent trip with my husband, I created an Evernote notebook and added the following: hotel information (text details I typed in, plus the emailed reservation confirmation), rental car and flight information (ditto), a chart from the airport website showing parking options (we weren’t flying out of our regular airport), links to local restaurants, links and PDFs with details about the event we were attending, event ticket receipts/confirmations, and more. I currently have a packing list in Word that I print out each time I travel, but I’m going to keep it as a checklist in Evernote from now on.
Create a portfolio and share it
Here’s an example I found online at alliworthington.com: This author/coach used the Web Clipper tool to grab articles she’s written for the web (you can save a whole webpage, part of it, or just the URL) in order to add them to an Evernote notebook that she made public/shareable.
Keep track of travel expenses
When you’re on a business trip, use your phone to take photos of your receipts and store them in Evernote. Once you’re back at work, they’ll all be accessible in one place, and even if you lose one or two of the hard-copy versions (it happens to the best of us), you’ll be able to submit all your receipts nonetheless.
Save and organize excerpts from Kindle books and ebooks
It’s very simple, as the Evernote blog explains: Just log in to your account to access your Kindle (I just discovered you can still do this if you only have the Kindle app but not a Kindle device) and then use the Web Clipper tool, which will send your highlighted excerpts to Evernote.
Organize with tags
Some people prefer to use tags as the primary organizing method for their Evernote notes rather than notebooks (as Lifehacker explains). I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds like it can be more efficient and more versatile. The Evernote blog gives some other examples of what you can do with tags, e.g., for project management (“Add a tag to identify the project state (active, next, completed) or to the spec number or feature”) or task management (“Add a priority label to notes (p1, p2, p3)”).
Readers: Do you like using Evernote for work, grad school, or personal use? What are your favorite tips and hacks for using Evernote? Do you prefer other applications such as Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, or Google Drive?