Posted by: Ian Briggs on 30th June 2012 at 4:24 pm
This blog post is a run-through of how I have come to use Evernote as a file-management system and digital repository.
I originally installed Evernote a couple of years ago but didn’t really make use of it apart from storing links to a few webpages. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I began reading of the real benefits to be had from making good use of the programme.
I read a number of easy-to-find websites recently which helped to find some uses for Evernote. They are listed here for reference:
– Ten ways to save time with Evernote: http://goo.gl/ObyjN
– How to email your documents erectly to Evernote: http://mhyatt.us/iEHGw1
– Evernote Case Study: http://goo.gl/pIQwf
– Ten tips on how to use Evernote to its fullest: http://www.thesolopreneurlife.com/?p=6014
These sites, and many others, helped me to decide how I would use Evernote, and how to organise it to suit my needs. The main driver behind all this was the desperate need to reduce the amount of paper we had filed away in our home office. Two filing cabinets full of papers, drawers, folders, boxes all crammed with forms, bills and receipts from years ago. So I set about sorting the stuff to keep, stuff to keep a digital copy of, and stuff to get rid of entirely!
In its most basic use, Evernote can obviously save notes. To tidy things up a bit, these notes can then be filed in notebooks, and similar notebooks can be grouped into stacks. You can see this in the image to the right where there is a financial stack, which contains a lot of related notebook for banking, receipts, tax and utilities.Within each of these notebooks is a selection of individual notes containing things like bank statements, utility bills etc.
The main tip I have found to keep things tidy is to keep the stack titles as general as possible (i.e. Financial, Work, Hobbies). Notebook titles should be a bit more specific (Banking, Music, Photography etc.) and the actual note should contain detailed information as to its contents (including title, date if applicable and maybe any people to whom the note relates).
I also have an INBOX notebook (notice the ! to keep it at the top of the list) which contains random stuff. But things only stay here briefly until they are filed somewhere more meaningful.
I also use tags in Evernote mainly to aid in searching for things. For example, within my banking notebook I have notes relating to a couple of different banks, current accounts, and credit cards. This is where tags come in to separate each note into sub-categories within a notebook. This helps to avoid having hundreds of notebooks being over-specific and makes things very easy to find.
So that is how I have set up Evernote, but how to use it every day?
Firstly, I probably do use it every day now and here are some of the things that I use it for:
– Note taking – revision for a recent project management exam proved Evernote’s worth by being able to take revision notes and avoid writing things on reams of paper.
– Film reviews – I like writing reviews for films that I see, and Evernote provides a great place to store and file reviews that I can then send to twitter, google+ or other websites that I write for.
– Blog ideas – any ideas for updating my blog get stuck in a notebook for future development (including this one!)
– Web clippings – one of the main uses for me. This allows me to get rid of bookmarks and instead, store webpages with their full colour, images, formatting and to have them sync between any computer I use. No more losing bookmarks or forgetting which computer they are stored on.
– Financial records – as mentioned above, I have scanned all my bank statements, letters, terms and conditions etc. and got rid of all the useless paper that the banks sent to us. The paper has been shredded and is now being used to feed worms and make compost! I also use the scanner or camera on my phone to scan in any important receipts or utility bills and eliminate more paper. All sensitive data is encrypted either using Evernote’s in-built encryption (for text) or I use an Apple automator script I wrote to encrypt a pdf file before uploading to Evernote.
– Personal records – Optician prescriptions, dentist records etc. are now stored electronically so I know where to find them even if I’m not at home.
– Travel details – All information relating to trips goes into the travel stack, and split into notebooks depending on the journey. The notes in here can include anything like maps, places to go, things to see and bars and restaurants to check out, all in a self-contained notebook for each trip. I also clip webpages for train timetables and forward flight and hotel reservation emails to the same notebook.
– Shopping – Things I want to buy get stored here along with a shared notebook for shopping lists that my wife can edit from her account.
– Work – This is the main reason I upgraded to the premium account. Things like meeting information, book clippings, papers and reports get stored here along with images I might use for any of my own papers. The benefit is that all this information is easy to find and can be searched (in the premium version of Evernote, even handwritten notes can be searched), and there is no limits to the type or size of files you can upload.
So that is how I am using Evernote, and the amount of space we have saved in our office is incredible. I hope this will inspire some others to use Evernote, but at the very least it provides an entertaining insight into my own obsessive compulsive desire for order!