If you’re familiar with Evernote, you’ll know it’s a web service and application that lets you save and organize text notes, PDFs, voice memos, images, and more.
But I’m sure, like me, you don’t know where to start. Everybody talks about Evernote, everybody uses it, everybody loves it, everybody is superproductive… but I didn’t take advantage of it, I ended up using it sporadically.
Until I took the step and converted to the Evernote religion.
The more information you have saved, the more fantastic and irreplaceable Evernote will look like.
In the article I talk about my personal experience and how I use it.
I think the articles on how they use it are more didactic and more inspiring than the typical tutorial with the four basic things and how wonderful it is to keep X.
I think that the articles on how they use it are more didactic and more inspiring than the typical tutorial with the four basic things and how wonderful it is to keep X.
I use Evernote to store information, it’s my personal library, it’s not my GTD application, my to-do list, or anything like that; however, there are a lot of people who use Evernote for everything, even their to-do lists.
I use Omnifocus for that, I think Evernote is not designed for GTD and where it shines is as an application that serves as a reference for your activities.
Capture all, Inbox notebook
This is the main mistake I made on the repeated occasions I tried to use Evernote, not capturing everything I might need (or not) in my life.
Evernote is wonderful when you have everything you need at two clicks where, when and how you want, it’s no use without information.
The big mistake I made was to think that my young brain would remember everything, immune to the passage of hours, days and weeks.
Aim things to free your mind, not to create a new task Not so, I’m not a machine, neither are you. The head is best used to be creative, to create, to produce, to solve problems, not to remember things you can aim for. First of all, forget about Notebooks, Tag etc. Install Evernote on all your devices (it’s available on almost every platform in the market) and create a default notebook.
I call it Inbox.
There you will find all the photos, all the PDFs, all the emails and all the notes you send to Evernote throughout the day.
It is the information that you will have to process when you have time do not waste time trying to think notebook, tag, title of the note … by God, we write things down to forget them in our head, to lose only a few seconds, not distract and continue working, enjoying our trip or any activity we are doing.
How do I capture content on my Evernote?
I’m emphasizing how I capture information in my Evernote, I think it’s the most important thing. I usually capture in these 4 ways:
Drafts: one of my favorite applications. Any idea, information, series I’m asked to see, something I have to do, quotes from a book I’m reading… I write everything quickly in Drafts and forget about it.
Then I process that list of notes, deriving them between tasks (they go to Omnifocus) and information that I may need later as a reference (Evernote). More information in his blog.
Forward email to my Evernote email address: I use it very often as in the email archive everything and I have neither folders, nor filters, nor labels… nothing. Just an inbox and a file. If I can answer the email in less than 2 minutes I do, if I don’t save it in Evernote or Omnifocus.
You can generate your own Evernote email address so that when you forward an email its subject and body will be a note with its title and corresponding information.
Email is neither my task manager nor my digital reference system. In their blog they explain how to make it perfect.
Web Clipper: ideal complement when I’m on the Mac (works for almost any browser).
It is used to capture a web page, or part of it. Ideal for saving tutorials, reference information, PDF manuals, etc. You can choose from here in which notebook to put the new note, but I always do it in the Inbox. I like to process information carefully. Download it.
Global keyboard shortcut in OS X: Evernote as a desktop application allows you to set global keyboard shortcuts to configure.
Put a combination that does not use the applications and you can use it at any time, write and close. Voilà, you already have your brain free and the information where it has to be: out of your head and synchronized with all your devices.
Organizing my digital library
Before I talk to you about how I process the Inbox I have to talk to you about how I organized the structure of my Evernote. It’s complicated.
It can be done in three ways: using only Notebooks, tags, or combining them.
The advice I give you here is that the fewer notebooks and the fewer labels, the better. Create the just and necessary, otherwise you will see many divisions in your digital bookstore that are useless.
Even so, it is a personal preference, what I did was a mental map with all the information that I usually have as a reference for my future projects, past or present. Yours must be as you wish.
Your Evernote’s organization must change at the pace that your life does.
Although I recommend you to think a little about the structure you’re going to use before using Evernote, you’ll find that you’ll have to make changes very often (projects that are no longer relevant, notebooks that you almost don’t use anymore, or creating new ones).
I decided to combine notebooks and labels, but you can have three notebooks only; for example (Inbox, File, Trash) and organize everything through labels + search. You can also do without labels.
No matter what structure you use, the best thing is that if you are looking for something concrete use the search engine. It’s very powerful and fast, so it’s a great idea to process our Inbox well.
Processing my Inbox
When I have some free time, although it’s usually on the iPad before going to sleep, what I do is classify that mountain of virtual papers I have in my Inbox notebook.
Many times notes are irrelevant and I erase them, don’t be afraid to do so. If it doesn’t work for you because it’s no longer relevant at the end of the day delete it without fear, don’t accumulate “shit” is your virtual bookstore.
Sometimes, for example, I put together several notes into one if it’s research on a future article. I try that each note is valid by itself, and if necessary, that the information that depends on it is correctly linked.
Once I have the note prepared, I move it to your notebook and label it accordingly. You can tag by context (PC, Home, Family, Messages…) or by themes. As I use Evernote as a future reference I always label by theme.
Cleaning up my digital bookstore
When a note is no longer relevant, I have already finished an article and the notes were related to it, I move it to a notebook called File or I delete it.
I usually clean when I remember, sometimes once a week, sometimes once a month.