Evernote is another free tool that I use extensively every single day. While Evernote is free (in the basic versions), I do recommend purchasing the basic version of Evernote Essentials. I paid full price for this guide to Evernote and it was totally worth every penny.
An Introduction to Evernote
Evernote is a note-taking service that is SO. MUCH. MORE. When you open an account, you start with just a blank slate and the ability to write notes and create notebooks (notes in notebooks and notebooks in notebook stacks is the filing system of Evernote). It’s basic. It’s easy. Maybe TOO basic and easy. This is where Evernote Essentials comes in. Brett Kelly tells you all the ins and outs and cool things you can do and how to get started so you don’t regret your notebook structure later. (Evernote actually hired him to work for them after his first version of the book!) Evernote allows you to write notes, lock notes, make checklists, clip websites directly, link with Google Drive, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff!
My Recipe Book on Evernote
Have you ever wanted a recipe book that is searchable? (“I have way too many sweet potatoes. What recipes do I have that call for sweet potato?”) How about one that you can snap a picture with your phone and be done with? That’s right! With Evernote, I can snap a picture (jpg) and upload it to my Evernote and… drumroll please… the TEXT BECOMES SEARCHABLE. So there I am at the doctor’s office and I see an amazing sweet potato coconut curry. I snap a pic, upload it to Evernote on my phone all while waiting my turn. Then, the next week, (having completely forgotten about that recipe of course), I perform the “Sweet potato” search in my Evernote and there it is! (I make it that night and it is delicious.) Having my recipe on Evernote also means it’s paperless! I used to own like 20 cookbooks in which I only liked 1-2 recipes. I snapped pics and donated the books! A whole shelf is now empty! (It became our library book shelf if you’re wondering.) My whole cookbook is also available anywhere. At my sister’s house in Texas wanting to make everyone mango lassis? Don’t worry! I’ve got the recipe right here!
Evernote for Research
Evernote is my secret weapon at work. I take all of my notes in Evernote for all projects. Notes from the original ask, search queries, quote snippets, even full write-up drafts are in my notes (which I then copy and paste in Word and send over). Why is this my secret weapon? Because of the search! Say a year later everyone has forgotten all the work I did on this topic and someone brings it up in a meeting. I search my notebooks and start spouting all the fact snippets I have stored up. Then I totally look like a genius. It’s awesome. It also means I don’t have to redo any work. I can see what I’ve already done on a topic and go from there. (The Premium version of Evernote allows text in PDFs to be searchable which would definitely step up my game, but I’m too cheap for that.)
Evernote for Blogging
In my Blogging Notebook, I’ve got an eternal checklist of to-dos, blog post ideas, quotes to use, etc. I have several notes of partially-written blog post drafts. I also have an IFTTT recipe set up that automatically saves my blog posts to Evernote when they publish on WordPress. It’s genius. Also, in my weekly newsletter (sign up on the sidebar!), I send out random links to crazy studies and articles I’ve happened across in my voracious reading and research. I have a whole notebook of these things. And I love that they are searchable, too! (“What was that website that has poetry written by robots?” Oh I found it! – yes, these are the kinds of things I email about… you really should join the weekly party!)
Evernote for a Paperless Life
Sick of keeping those dumb receipts you might need? Snap it, file it, toss it. The paper comes in, gets snapped, and it gets shredded. Remember how it’s searchable? Yeah, that will come in handy here! And remember how you can lock notes? That’s right, password protect those sensitive receipts.
Evernote for Travel
As you may already know, I plan vacations for fun. My Travel Notebook is filled up with potential itineraries: places I want to stay, places I want to go, awesome routes to take, etc. When we went to Europe last summer, everything was overplanned and typed out in my travel notebook (where we were staying each night with contact info and postal codes, route maps, places to see each day, ideas of where to eat, etc.). That will stay in my notebooks forever. Next time I want to hit up Edinburgh, I’ll remember which AirBNB we used.
Evernote for Everything
Other things I use Evernote for:
- Family Scrapbook – When Lui says something funny, I add it to the “Lui’s notes” note with a date. When I write a Christmas letter to send to family, it’s in my notes. When my parents tell me family history stories, those are in my notes.
- Address Book – I always need someone’s address when I’m out of town (sending postcards from the UK perhaps?). It’s in there!
- Book Notes – Do you want to remember a quote from a book you read or an idea of how to do something? I have all my book notes there, too! I also keep a list of book recommendations I want to read.
- Health Notes – All doctor interactions, health history, and medications tried were all written down when I was struggling with my health. Eventually, knowing this information (and having it available on my phone when I went to see specialist) led to a diagnosis.
- Entrepreneurial Ideas – I have a whole notebook of ideas of things Mr. T and I would like to try. Some have more there than others, but each one has it’s own note. Then, when I find resources, examples, or inspiration for a specific idea, I can add it to the note.
Do You Use Evernote? I’m Always Collecting New Ideas on How to Use it!
The links to Evernote Essentials on this blog are affiliate links. I paid full price for this book and seriously recommend it! It’s gone through 2 updates since I purchased it and your purchase comes with all future updates, so it’s great if Evernote adds or changes features. If you use the links in this post to purchase the book, at no extra cost to you, I get a cut of the purchase price. If you’re not okay with that, just search for it in your search engine and pick it up that way.
Matt @ Optimize Your Life
I am a recent convert to Evernote from Google Docs and I love it so far. The ability to search among all notes is just amazing. I’m still struggling a bit in finding an organizational structure that works for me, but I’m sure I’ll get there with some trial and error.
I did have an issue with accessing the same docs from my browser, my ipad, and my phone. Opening a doc on one of them a couple months ago overwrote the newer versions of the doc and replaced it with an older one. After some failed attempts at recovering, Evernote gave me a free month of Premium so that I could just go into the version history and bring it back myself. Was a bit annoying for the 36 hours we were trying to fix it, but I feel a lot better now knowing that there is a fail-safe in place.
yikes. that sounds bad. Bretty Kelly does provide a warning about the multiple interface situation in his book as well.
You will have to pry Google Keep from my cold, dead fingertips, but I have colleagues who love Evernote. It sounds like it’s a phenomenal system that works for you! Glad you shared!
I’ve heard good things about Google Keep… and, as I mentioned, I’m a big Google fan… but I think Evernote is so elegantly designed. I love it’s functionality!
Harmony Smith (@CMK_Harmony)
I love Evernote. Thanks for some ideas of new ways to use it. One of my notebooks is just unusual words that I encounter and their definitions. I love learning new and interesting words, but they often don’t stick in my brain.
I love that so much! What’s a recent favorite?
Harmony Smith (@CMK_Harmony)
serein – fine rain falling after sunset from a sky in which no clouds are visible
wow! The rain without clouds thing happens here all the time… but in the summertime, there is no sunset. 🙂
Matt @ Spills Spot
LOVE Evernote. I use it for a lot of different links. Blog post ideas, blog post writing, a collection of links that I want to go back to, budgets, addresses, etc. Soooo many applications!
YES! And I LOVE discovering new ways to use it!
Yes! I love Evernote for all of these reasons too. One of the notes I check most throughout the year is my Evernote gifts lists where I keep ideas for gifts for family.
YES! I love my gift list! And I’m always done with Christmas by September at the latest!
Hey, Maggie. Thanks for the Evernote overview and book suggestion. I have Evernote and my notes are a hot mess. Perhaps it’s time to spend 15 minutes a day honing my Evernote skills. It’s a great tool and I know I’m not taking full advantage of it.
It’s worth it. Seriously. I LOVE my Evernote. So, so much. Mr. T doesn’t yet have an account and he hears about it at least once a day. I’ll get him there! 🙂
Another similar program to check out is OneNote. It’s free for all platforms (Win, Mac, iOS, Android, Web) and has some amazing capabilities and there is even an Evernote to OneNote migration wizard available. I especially recommend if you are an O365 user at home or work. Good overview here. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2686026/software-productivity/microsoft-onenote-for-beginners-everything-you-need-to-know.html