Hey there, ninja! You’re totally a red belt at this point. Let’s turn you into the Steven Seagal of Evernote.
Hopefully you caught the previous posts about why you should join the Evernote cult, mastering the basics and beginning to use and maximize Evernote. All of the posts in this series are part of a recap on the “Becoming An Evernote Ninja” session I offered at the 2014 Arkansas Women Bloggers conference.
You should now feel pretty comfortable creating notes of every type as well as creating and organizing notebooks and stacks. Hopefully you took a little time to practice (wax on, wax off…) and play around with all of this a bit and now you’re hungry for more.
Before we move into some of the nifty tricks that make Evernote akin to the Holy Grail, it’s important to hit pause and make sure you understand the single most important thing about Evernote, in my opinion:
Evernote is only as good as you make it, and it can only sing when you use it.
So, don’t wait around until you find an entire Saturday to dedicate to “learning” Evernote… it’s all about trial and error. The more you use it, the more you get it.
Everything started to really click for me after I envisioned a couple of pretend visual cues that changed the tide on my Evernote use. I essentially made the decision to train myself to really use Evernote.
- Pro tip: throughout the day, pretend you have one of those reminder strings around your finger. Heck, use a real string if you need it! The string is going to prompt you to put down the sticky note and step away from the index card (my personal paper vice). Everytime I found myself reaching for one of these to jot a note, I hit pause and put the tidbit in Evernote.
- Pro tip: similar to the above, I trained myself to almost envision one of those WWJD bracelets on my wrist, only mine asked “Can I do this in Evernote?” From proposals to draft blog posts to lists of phone numbers, nine out of ten times the answer was that I could. So, yes – our cult has a hashtag – it’s #CIDTIE. Say it loud, say it proud!
Once you train yourself to open Evernote as your daily, go-to program (for meeting minutes, agendas, daily checklists), it goes from being your handy cloud-based file cabinet to a true virtual workspace. Plus… forgetting sucks.
The Beauty of Evernote Search
I’ve mentioned before that Evernote features OCR (optical character recognition), which is one of the reasons all your stuff is so immently findable in Evernote – quickly. Searching for information in your email inbox is maddening, and you’ll be spoiled after you realize everything you put in Evernote is at your fingertips.
But wait, there’s more!
Evernote’s native search capabilities are, in my humble opinion, part of what takes Evernote from the realm of “cool, useful tool” to “are you a wizard or something?” (Brett Kelly)
This is not an exaggeration. Brett Kelly literally wrote the book on Evernote, which is a great resource if you’re getting serious about incorporating Evernote into your life. As you can see from this series alone, there’s just so darn much to cover, you can hardly do it in anything less than a full book. Brett’s quote is right on the mark – once you start finding information with ease in Evernote, people will think you’ve mastered black magic. Sit back and enjoy.
As one example: in Evernote, you can Search. Text. Inside. Images. Enough said. This where brains start to explode. Look:
In 2011 at the very first Arkansas Women Bloggers conference, we put up a huge whiteboard and asked attendees to write some of their favorite, cutting-edge tools that made their blogging lives easier. I took a photo of the whiteboard and popped it into Evernote with the note title #AWBU Whiteboard 2011. One of the ideas submitted was Tweetdeck. If that were the only thing I could recall, it would be easy to sift down through my (at the time) 2,200+ notes to find it with ease two years later.
Sharing via Evernote
One of the other tremendous assets of Evernote is that you can easily share from within the program itself (as opposed to opening an email client and attaching your genius notes to share with the universe). You’ve got several options for sharing from within the note:
Options include simply emailing the note or sharing to social media (no, the end user does not need an Evernote account), or you can also simply share the containing notebook with another Evernote user. The real genius, though, is the fact that each note has its own URL, so if you share the URL the recipient will always have the most current copy of the note. This is ideal for bios (which may evolve), and could even be used to create work portfolios or share evolving presentations or instructions with a team.
While Evernote is not truly designed to replace other programs and software (think Dropbox, word processors, PowerPoint) and is intended to work in concert with the tools you already use, for me it has replaced most programs. This is why I love the line from the Evernote review by The Art of Manliness: One App To Rule Them All. In the past, I’ve certainly been known to be continually on the quest for the perfect app to (fill in the blank). I was always seeking the perfect to do list app, the perfect grocery list app, the perfect word processing and cloud-based document storage solution etc.
While I’m still a bit of an app hoarder, I now accomplish the vast majority of things I need to do in Evernote. I love that any note can be shared in a meeting thanks to Presentation Mode. It removes distractions and even includes a handy-dandy built-in pointer. Brilliant.
The fun never ends with Evernote. Here’s a sampling of nifty things you can do:
- Merge multiple notes into a “table of contents” note (more here).
- Set up reminders for tasks and to do lists (more here).
- Email into Evernote and autofile attachments, archived emails, reference items (more here).
- Access notebooks offline while traveling (more here – Premium feature).
- Add the Evernote Web Clipper to your browser to quickly save articles (more here).
- Go crazy organizing Evernote with tags (like Michael Hyatt, here) or… don’t (like Guy Kawasaki, here).
A Refresher: Why Evernote Is Indispensible
- With you at all times across all platforms (PC, Mac, smartphone, tablet).
- Syncs automatically (all your information is everywhere).
- No more digging for the right notebook or meeting notes – all searchable!
- It is simply smarter than any other product out there – very intuitive.
- Lightning fast search (compare to email).
- Keep all sorts of items in one place (notes, photos, audio, PDFs, links, screenshots).
- Consolidate notes into one document for internal meetings or presentations.
- Keep your inbox cleaned out: forward keepers and archive the rest.
- Organize articles to read later.
- Checklists – groceries, next day’s checklist/MITs.
- Create templates for things you do frequently (blog post outlines, press releases).
- Grab quick photos to prompt you and set reminders for later.
- Move toward paperless by eliminating all the sticky notes and scraps of paper.
- Keep running notes organized by topic, notebooks, stacks and tags.
- Save current working documents using shortcuts for quick reference.
- Jot down meeting notes, snap photos of whiteboards, tag topics & attendees.
- Evernote + tablets = magic. Place Evernote in your “dock” for easy access.
Be dedicated – instead of seeking new tools, use a few tools very effectively. Evernote can handle bulleted to do lists, checklists, wish lists, things to buy (beyond groceries, the things you never remember at specialty stores), holiday gift lists, books to read, music to check out, articles to read, websites to visit.
- Great post on Kickstarting your productivity with Evernote
- Introduction to Evernote
- Mastering the basics of Evernote
- Emailing into Evernote
- How to organize your notebooks in Evernote
- How to hold paperless team meetings
- Drag and drop files in and out of Evernote
- Work smarter with Evernote: teamwork and communication
- Tips for using Evernote on your smartphone
- 5 ways to use Evernote on your tablet
- How to use reminders in Evernote
- 3 ways to manage a sales team with Evernote
- How Evernote ambassadors use Evernote for work
- Premium feature: How to enable passcode lock
- Premium feature: Offline Notebooks
- The Evernote Blog – tips and tricks, quick access to answers/solutions. I highly recommend subscribing to the daily newsletter – it will take you to ninja mode in no time.
- Evernote Products – apps and add-ons that work beautifully in concert with Evernote, such as Evernote Hello (for contacts & business cards), Evernote Food (enough said), the Web Clipper and Skitch, which I consider essential for marking up screenshots and images.
- Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials ebook ($12.99)
- Michael Hyatt: dozens of articles on Evernote (compiled links).
- The Evernote Market for beautifully-designed products that dance with Evernote, such as the Fujitsu Evernote ScanSnap scanner which I recently acquired and can attest to being a miracle in my life.
- Mind-blowing 201: tools such as IFTTT and Zapier can merge with Evernote to crate automated magic in your life. Ask me if you need a little help here.
Ok. Just stop and take a deep breath. Evernote can DEFINITELY feel overwhelming, but it’s worth every minute you’ll spend. I’m five years in and learning more every single day. There’s a reason Evernote calls itself a hundred year company – their innovation isn’t slowing down anytime soon, so you have plenty of time to grow and learn. Some final tips:
- Just start. Even if it comes in fits and starts, there’s no time like today.
- Don’t aim for perfection. You’ll tweak your system as you go through life and it will evolve with you.
- If you’re overwhelmed, use Evernote’s phenomenal support, blog and website or feel free to contact me directly – I’m happy to help you!
- If you want a group session with friends or colleagues, we can make that happen, too – in person or online.
- Don’t forget: #CIDTIE. (Could I do this in Evernote?) Train yourself away from the scraps of paper!
One last thing – if you’re using Evernote and have written an article about it, share it here so others can benefit from your trial and error! I can’t wait to hear how Evernote rocks your world.