Monday, May 23, 2011

Resource Roundup: Advanced Evernote Tips

I have a deep and abiding love for Evernote, the free (up to 2GB / month) cloud-based cross-platform storage tool. This installment of the Resource Roundup looks at the some of the coolest things Evernote can do as described by Michael Hyatt, Chairman and past CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He's an Evernote disciple and uses the power of Evernote to keep his life disciplined (see what I did there?).

Let's dive in. First, what is Evernote?
Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving. A "note" can be a piece of formattable text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can then be sorted into folders, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, and searched. Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including Android, Mac OS X, iOS, Microsoft Windows and WebOS), and also offers online synchronization and backup services.
Hyatt has written a number of posts that detail how he uses Evernote to keep his very busy life orderly and productive. In his first post, he notes How to Organize Evernote for Maximum Efficiency.

It all begins by establishing a solid organizational structure. Evernote doesn’t require one, but, based on my personal experience you won’t realize the full power of this tool without one. You need to give some thought to how you want to structure your notebooks, “stacks,” and tags.

First, let’s define some terms:
  • Notebooks: These are collections of individual notes. Theoretically, you could just have one notebook and dump everything into it. But most people will want to establish different notebooks for different “areas of focus.”
  • Stacks: These are collections of notebooks. For example, you could have a stack called “Work” that has separate notebooks for each client, project, or area of responsibility.
  • Tags: These are attributes that you can apply to any individual note. You can then view all notes with a specific tag, regardless of which notebook it resides in. This provides for the ultimate in filing flexibility, though it can be confusing at times. (I still get confused about whether something should be a notebook or a tag.)
I have an Evernote web clipper that allows me to highlight anything on a web page (including links and images) and pressing Windows+A to automatically add the item to my Evernote and automatically sync my account on my two Windows machines (work and home), my Macbook laptop, and my Android phone. I keep my AuthorCulture notes this way, using the tag AC(for AuthorCulture) and FFF (for Fabulously Funny Fridays).

The next post I'd like to cover is How to Use Evernote If You Are a Speaker or Writer. He talks about adding various things to his Evernote account for easy access, including the following:
  • Blog posts. I am going back through my 900-plus blog posts and extracting the various components. When I find a personal illustration or a historical anecdote, I copy and paste it into my Illustrations notebook. The same is true for quotes and jokes.
  • Web articles. When I am reading on the Web, I do the same. If I stumble across something I think I might want to use later, I copy and paste it into the appropriate notebook. This can include everything from other bloggers’ posts to news articles.
  • Digital books. This is also a big advantage of using Kindle for my reading. Anything I highlight in a Kindle book is automatically extracted to my personal Highlights page on Amazon. I can copy and paste these directly into Evernote from there. This is a huge productivity boost.
Finally, a cool tip that I haven't yet taken the time to embrace but want to Real Soon Now, How to Email Your Documents Directly to Evernote
Now it is time to start filing your documents into Evernote’s digital repository. There are a number of tools for doing this. However, I find that I use the email-to-Evernote function more than almost any other method.

Yet, surprisingly, I have met many Evernote users who don’t even know this capability exists. Once you get the hang of it, this input method transforms Evernote from an interesting software application to an indispensable one.
So, I highly recommend Evernote for your writing / organizing / where-did-I-put-that-thing use, and I also highly recommend following Michael Hyatt. I keep track of him on Facebook, Twitter, and follow him via email.
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