Monday, February 4

Get Evernote: Get Organized!

Evernote.comBack in the olden days (as our students would think) when desktop computing was "new" and was advertised to be our gateway to a “paperless society.” I was very excited about this prospect from both an ecological and organizational stand point. Now, many years and a lot of new technology later, I’m still waiting for this “paperless society.”  My desks (at home and at work) are littered with numerous piles of “very important” papers. My to-do lists fill my pockets and decorate my counter tops. Important receipts are stuffed into paper folders in a very “helter-skelter” fashion making it rather difficult for me to find the ones that I need. My email accounts – well, to begin with, I have too many – but besides that, finding email that I need (especially on my personal accounts) is not very easy. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you might want to consider organizing all your “stuff” in Evernote.

Hailed by the New York Times as one of the Top 10 must have apps, Evernote’s mantra is, Remember Everything.  Evernote is designed for note taking, organizing and archiving. A "note" can be a piece of formatted text, an email (with attachments), a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a picture, a voice memo, or a scanned document/paper. In Evernote, notes can be sorted into folders (notebooks and stacks), then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched and exported. Evernote can be installed on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone. Once you make an entry in Evernote on one of your devices, it automatically syncs up to the other devices. Love this feature!
I first learned about Evernote about a year or so ago but only recently became serious about trying to learn how to effectively use this highly-praised productivity tool. I must admit that while it hasn't solved all of my issues with organization and over-dependence on paper yet, I can honestly say that I’m finally on my way.  

I was talking to Anita, a colleague of mine, the other day about my next blog post. When I mentioned to her that I was in the process of writing about Evernote, her response to me was, “Oh my gosh, Evernote has changed my life!” That was my queue to ask her if she would be willing to write a brief summary on how she uses Evernote that I could include in my blog post. Her thoughts on Evernote are posted below – perhaps her words will spark your interest so that you too will start using Evernote and, Remember Everything.

From Anita:

Like most teachers, my inbox was cluttered with millions of things to do. I was having a hard time organizing everything that needed to get done, and as a result I found myself at risk of missing deadlines and dropping the ball on projects.   I picked up David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done and read it with the hope that it would give me a better system of organizing all of the action items that I had on my plate.  At the heart of his program is a bookkeeping system, Evernote, used to help keep track of responsibilities and action items. 

Evernote is a cloud-based program that allows you to create as many “notes” as you want and then tag those notes for easy retrieval at a later date. There is a great article called “The Secret Weapon that describes how to use Evernote to organize your to-do list.  I currently have tags set up for timing (now, next, soon, later), for people (department head, administration, family, parents), for projects, and even action types (such as emails and phone calls).

Each time something gets added to my to-do list, I create a new note in Evernote and then tag it into one or more of my predetermined categories. Information can be captured from anywhere using a variety of different entry methods; snapshots, audio recordings, webpages, Facebook, etc, can all be added directly to Evernote as a new note.  I can also add email into Evernote.  Every email that requires action on my part gets forwarded to Evernote where it gets tagged and filed. All the rest of my email gets archived or deleted.  As a result, my inbox remains clean and empty. 

This process works because I can access all of my Evernote files from anywhere; my smartphone, my iPad, or my computer.  When I have a few minutes, I go into Evernote and review my tags to see what needs to be done. For example, if I am sitting in the parking lot waiting for my kids, I review the “phone call” tag and make the important calls. If I am headed to a meeting with my department head, I pull up his "tag" before the meeting and review what I need to discuss with him.

I have found that having everything written down (in Evernote) allows me to be more relaxed because I don't have to worry that I'm forgetting something.  I am also more efficient because if I have 10 "spare" minutes I can actually accomplish something, instead of just trying to remember what it is that I am actually supposed to accomplish.   The Evernote system is very easy to set up and very powerful once it is in place.

Now if someone could just find a way to add a few more hours to the day…..
Thanks Anita!!