Why I Love Evernote (And How I Use It)
You may have noticed Roy mentioning Evernote this week across our various social channels, and that he was looking to start using it more often. I, on the other hand, have been using it for a while now and can no longer function without it. (It is a tie between Dropbox and Evernote for my favourite web-based services.) However, like many who have come before me, I too once had difficulty wrapping my head around Evernote. The open-endedness of the product can seem daunting -- what do you use it for? Turns out the answer is actually rather simple: use it for everything. Yes. Everything.
The Evernote tagline, "Remember everything," truly is accurate to the power you can harness while using it. But what does "everything" mean, exactly? Well, allow me to walk you through how I use Evernote to my advantage, and how it has become my most used application. Perhaps you will get some ideas of your own! (Note that I run OSX and some of the workarounds I do may not be applicable to those running Windows or Linux.)
Notebooks and Tags
Notebooks and tags are organizational features in Evernote that help you categorize and archive everything you have into logical areas. Think of notebooks as folder: containers to house items of similar nature. Folders are great because you can -- again -- group them further into a sort of notebook-notebook, or bundles, with different notebooks within one another. This is nothing revolutionary, but having the capability of easily making nice groupings of items is extremely useful. Tags, on the other hand, are snippets you can add to items to cross-classify them.
For example, I have a bundle titled Reference where I keep a record of articles I find useful, helpful, interesting, or otherwise noteworthy. Reference then has multiple notebooks within it, such as Web Design, Web Development, Generally Interesting, etc. I will sort articles as I save them into their correct categories for future browsing such as an article on Sass functions will file into Web Dev. I will then add tags that might correlate to another subtopic, such as CSS.
Once I have added all appropriate tags, I will add one final tag named Tagged. This is so that I may perform a search query at any moment and find items that do not have tags.
One of Evernote's greatest features is its text recognition capabilities, where words are found and searchable within images. Even handwriting can be searched! Although I have a beautiful scanner on my work desk, I hardly use it these days. Instead, I use the camera app on my iPhone to take a quick snapshot of my receipts and email the image to my Evernote email upload address. (I will also send the same receipts to my Dropbox email upload address for backup.)
I use IFTTT to connect Instagram to Evernote and Flickr to Evernote. IFTTT is a fantastic web service that allows channels to interact with one another. So what does that mean? I have set it up so that every time I favourite/like an image on Instagram or Flickr, that image is sent into Evernote. Custom tagged and sorted into proper notebooks and everything. Hooray for automation! Now when I am in need of some photographic beauty, I just visit my Inspiration notebook, completely personalized and up-to-date.
Evernote is a fantastic tool for getting all of your content related to a single topic together quickly. Its robust search criteria options coupled with its accurate text recognition feature makes it a powerhouse for pulling up info you thought was buried. But I wanted to find things even quicker.
I use Alfred, a productivity application for OSX which aims to save you time in searching your local computer and the web, but I wanted to take it one step further and have the app search my Evernote account. No problem! By writing an Alfred Workflow, I was able to get the two to play along nicely. Now, searching Evernote, creating a new note, and other tasks are just a hotkey away.
Clients and Research and Trips, Oh My!
Yes, it's great that we can do all these wonderful things, but what about the actual content? Well that's the beauty of Evernote: the more you put into it, the better it gets. So start adding your favourite recipes and collecting more as you go. Add in your notes from meetings, or photos of inspirational locations. Add client work and research notes and ideas and list and... and... and… with Evernote, it is okay to be a hoarder.
The Evernote web clipper is a big help, too. The browser extension is great for quickly ripping and article or item from a web page (or the whole page itself) and adding it to your Evernote inbox. the web clipper can also display related content on Google searches. When enabled, searching the web with supported web browsers will also display results from your Evernote account. Perfect for reminding me of quality/relevant content I already find useful.
Also, have a look through IFTTT's Evernote recipes and see if there are any that could apply to you; maybe you want to backup your Facebook photos into Evernote? Or have a random Wikipedia article sent to your Evernote inbox? Have a look around.
Evernote has become one of the tools I use on a daily basis and have come to rely heavily on for my organizational needs. Do you have any interesting methods of sorting or clever uses of Evernote? Do you think you will use it if you have not already? Leave a comment or hit us up on Facebook and Twitter.