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5 ways to make life easier with Evernote

13 Sep

The evernote elephant logo

I didn’t use the bit.ly sidebar for ages – I thought, how much better can it be if I already use the bit.ly website whenever I need to? Then I installed it and found out the answer – it’s actually much quicker to be able to shorten the URL of any page you’re on, rather than copying and pasting that URL into bit.ly’s homepage, plus you get useful statistics. With that in mind, I started to look for other ‘how much better can it be?’ scenarios to see if they too could make my life that bit simpler or more efficient.

I’d heard people raving about how good Evernote was, but I’d never used it. My rationale was similar to the bit.ly thing – I can make notes in Word on my PC, or my laptop, and I’ve got a note-pad app thing on my iPhone; how much more useful can a specialist note-thingy be? The answer is much, much more useful – go and download Evernote now. It’s free.

The point of this blog post is to catch people like me who’ve never bothered to investigate Evernote and tempt them into taking the plunge – I’m not going to tell you much you won’t know if you use it already.

  1. Create ONE TO-DO LIST TO RULE THEM ALL
    For me the main reason Evernote is so instantly useful is that it syncs between all devices. So if you have it on your Work PC and make a note there, then press ‘sync’, the note will appear on anything else you have Evernote installed on – home PC, laptop, phone etc. This really appeals to me for various reasons – mainly the idea of always being able to access key information where-ever I am, and whatever I’ve forgotten to bring with me… Also, not having to faff about when I think of something important at home, remembering to then write it onto my paper to do list when I get to work etc. I have several to-do lists in Evernote now – work stuff, home stuff, blog stuff, LISNPN stuff, career stuff, plus a self-explanatory one called ‘Today’. The fact that all these things are no longer fragmentary and I always know where they are, all in one place, and how to get to them, soothes me to my very soul.
  2. Take notes at events
    Why take notes in Word or whatever, which involves later emailing them to other devices / accounts or saving them onto a stick, when you can just use Evernote? No more getting home from a conference and calibrating all your notes into the right place – if you use the basic word-processor-esque note-taking functionality in the Evernote on your laptop, then press ‘sync’, it’ll appear on your Desktop, your work PC and your phone, instantly. If you don’t have your laptop with you, use your phone to take notes and hit sync and it’ll be on there anyway. And so on. (As an aside, I also take notes of things I see which I think may suitable for future birthday / Christmas / anniverary gifts for my wife – I use the notepad functionality on my phone, but I’ll start using Evernote now because I can discreetly photograph stuff she says she likes without it being obvious I’m filing it away for future giftage… the point being, you can take notes about LIFE, not just work.)
  3. Photograph cool stuff
    You can use the camera on your smart-phone to take a picture in Evernote – this then appears as a note. Similarly, once you have Evernote installed, your Print Screen button works in the same way (and you can choose which parts of the screen to ‘print’ too). Examples Evernote use are of taking pictures of wine-bottles, or business cards, when you’re out and about. You could also take pictures of slides if the presenter you’re watching hasn’t provided paper copies, or a printed schedule at a conference, or building or room plans, and a whole host of other stuff which may violate intellectual property rights and should therefore not be attempted by anyone. The great thing is turns any writing in your photos into searchable text, so you can easily locate what you’re looking for later. (This also means you could do really ace stuff like, someone leaves a post-it note stuck to your monitor with “Phone John Smith, British Library, 01482378″ written on it, and you don’t have time to phone them right away, so you take a picture of the post-it note, then when you get a chance later on you type ‘British Library’ into the search box and it finds John and his number.)
  4. Combine it with Twitter
    If you allow Evernote to access your Twitter account, you can then create notes in Evernote by putting @MyEn in a tweet, or DM’ing @MyEn. So if you want to check a link when you get home or read an article later, or simultaneously tweet about an event and make notes on it, or just write yourself a to-do list on the move, you can do so using Twitter and the relevant info will appear as a note. (A note on your desktop PC, your work PC – etc etc, you get the idea…)
  5. Put everything on it for conferences
    In 2008 I wrote all my travel info down on a piece of paper (stuff like reservation numbers for train tickets, departure times, hotel references etc); in 2009 I began writing them down in Word and printing them out; in 2010 I’ve added them to my Outlook Diary which I can then check on my phone, at the station/hotel/etc. From now on I’ll put them into Evernote – they will be on all my devices, they’re accessible on the move, and I can get at them even with no reception and my phone in airplane mode. If I’m speaking I’ll put a copy of my notes on it, a link to the Prezi / Slideshare etc – even if my USB stick with all that stuff on is stolen I can still access the necessary info from my phone, and even if THAT is also stolen I can just download Evernote onto a PC at the venue and get what I need that way. I may also put a CV on it, with a list of all the trainings I’ve attended etc, because I have to have that stuff somewhere so why not have it easily findable and auto-synced across all the IT stations in my world? And who knows who you might meet on the move, who might be interested in your work history…
    - thewikiman

NB: See the comments section for a sixth thing to do with it – tracking online reputation.

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Comments
  • Ned Potter September 13, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    [New Post, by me] 5 ways to make life easier with Evernote – via #twitoaster http://bit.ly/9Wyew3

  • Bobbi Newman September 13, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: [New Post, by me] 5 ways to make life easier with Evernote http://bit.ly/9Wyew3

  • Bill Drew September 13, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    RT @librarianbyday: RT @theREALwikiman: [New Post, by me] 5 ways to make life easier with Evernote http://bit.ly/9Wyew3

  • John Bloebaum September 13, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    5 ways to make life easier with Evernote: http://bit.ly/bZ9UC4

  • WoodsieGirl September 13, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    @theREALwikiman Really wish I could use Evernote, it looks so useful! Sadly, it’s one of many services inexplicably blocked on my work PC :(

  • theREALwikiman September 13, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    @WoodsieGirl I heart your work’s security policy! It’s like a parody of one! Must be incredibly annoying though. That in particular is crazy

  • walkyouhome September 13, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    @theREALwikiman Oh, but, but, I don’t *want* an efficient life! Don’t make me be ORGANISED! #whine

  • theREALwikiman September 13, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    @walkyouhome It won’t make YOU organised! It’ll just organise your scribbles into something you can get at from anywhere…

  • theREALwikiman September 13, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    @BillDrew4 Thank you! Not sure I’d've told you anything not included in Evernote’s welcome note, but still, cheers!

  • Evernote News September 13, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    5 ways to make life easier with Evernote | thewikiman http://ow.ly/18Zb7M

  • Carleen September 13, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    RT @librarianbyday: RT @theREALwikiman: [New Post, by me] 5 ways to make life easier with Evernote http://bit.ly/9Wyew3

  • Bobbi Newman September 13, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Great list Ned! I would add one more use using it to track your online reputation. I use it clip mentions of me on other sites, comes in handy for reworking my bio etc see more here
    http://librarianbyday.net/2010/05/using-evernote-to-track-online-reputation/

  • BillDrew4 September 13, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    @theREALwikiman I liked your post on evernote. I just started using it.

  • thewikiman September 13, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Oooh nice! I remember reading that post when you wrote it, but was amongst the great unenlightened at that point and hadn’t started using it… Thanks – will add an NB to the main post above pointing people towards the comments.

  • Ned Potter September 14, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    Wondering whether to change title of this post http://bit.ly/9Wyew3 to "Hey you – yes, YOU! Download Evernote NOW and stop messing about!"

  • Richard Hawkins September 20, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    I’ve just converted to Evernote too and it’s great!

    Previously I had a quite unsatisfactory to do list system that involved creating tasks in Google calendar but Evernote is much better.

    Now I can bring my shopping list to work with me and remember to pick up that all important light bulb I need in my kitchen at lunchtime!

    I wasn’t aware of the other functions you describe though so thanks for that I’ll have a look at them now :-)

  • Top Ten Links Week 37 | Librarian by Day September 21, 2010 at 1:47 AM

    [...] RT @theREALwikiman: [New Post, by me] 5 ways to make life easier with Evernote – Ned Potter covers some great uses for Evernote. Dont’ forget you can also use [...]

  • [...] really hoped Evernote would do this (it seems to do everything else!) but, alas, its twitter integration seems to be purely in the other direction. Anyone know of [...]

  • Sarah Hammond September 28, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    I am also advised not to visit Evernote at work. Will explore at home later – what a thrillseeker! Ta for handy how-to guide to help get started.

  • DMcAuley October 4, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    RT @TopsyRT: Must give it a go: 5 ways to make life easier with Evernote http://bit.ly/d9JMMW

  • Jan Holmquist October 19, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    @annalynnmartino My favorite app! Strongly recommended like this beginners guide http://thewikiman.org/blog/?p=940 by @theREALwikiman

  • Anna Lynn Martino October 19, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    @janholmquist thanks so much for that link! http://bit.ly/9QM2h3

  • Parker Donat September 14, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    5 ways to make life easier with Evernote http://t.co/UwwQj54 #productivity

  • Ned Potter January 24, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    @SimonXIX I wrote this ages ago: http://t.co/rrjPMaZu – just a basic intro though.

  • Simon Barron January 24, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    @nmellendorf Seems like lots of people have written about it! The one I was thinking of is this intro http://t.co/3aNJ10v9

  • Simon Barron January 24, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Thanks everyone: I found the Evernote post I was looking for. It was this introduction by @therealwikiman: http://t.co/3aNJ10v9

  • [...] 5 ways to make life easier with Evernote [...]

  • Diane January 8, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    I am trying to figure out how, after taking a picture, I can put that picture into a certain notebook! I am a teacher aide for a special ed student, and have his different classes categorized into different note books. But then when I take a picture of the week’s class schedule, and put it into the corresponding notebook, it won’t let me put it in the notebook! Could you please help?

    Thanks,

    Diane

  • thewikiman January 10, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Hi Diane,

    You need to take the picture from Evernote itself on a phone or iPad or whatever – then if dragging and dropping it into the right note doesn’t work, I think you have to take the picture IN the note itself. Does that make sense? So open the relevant note, then press the little camera icon and snap the schedule.

    Good luck!

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