I write a lot about tools that make you more efficient and effective in your social media and blogging efforts. I love new apps. In fact, I have to stop myself from actually losing productivity from spending too much time researching and test apps aimed at increasing it! With that said, while new programs come and go, one stays like the house built upon a solid foundation – that is Evernote.
I have been using Evernote since college and when I say I could not live without it, I mean it. It is, quite seriously, my external brain. I store any bit of important information I come across that may have value at a later time. I also use it to save research for blogs and I even write most drafts, using either the iPad or desktop versions.
Like an actual brain, however, if you don’t have the discipline to manage it appropriately, it can quickly become a leviathan that just seems to ooze unusable data. Here’s how to use Evernote like a pro to become a better blogger.
Since I hate complexity, I am a proponent of limiting these three categories, or at least until you gain a little more comfort using the system.
1. Inbox – Full disclosure: I borrowed this from David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Having a default catchall for anything you send to Evernote allows you to spend the appropriate amount of time reviewing each new item and deciding what to do with it during a weekly or daily review process.
Pro Tip: Begin the title with an asterisk to make sure it stays on top of the other Notes/Notebooks in the navigation pane.
2. Next Actions – This is the Note in which your To Do list lives. Once you have processed the items in your Inbox, add any action items to a list in this Note.
Pro Tip: I use a handy little program called Task Clone, which syncs anything with a checkbox and a special tag to my task manager of choice. In my case, that means Asana, but it works with just about all of the major players.
3. Reference – This is where all the Notes go that are too important to delete, but contain no actionable information. Keep things in here that you may need to access later for reference. Make sure to tag appropriately for easy search.
Pro Tip: Tag items by project/focus area to help you search for them when they are needed. This will allow you to gain a vertical and horizontal view of your notes.
A great way to understand this is to think of Notes, Notebooks, and Notebook Stacks as a vertical form of organization, where you organize things by task/project/campaign (or client). Tags are the horizontal aspect. This allows you to contextualize your notes across topics, time, or any other qualification you choose to use.
For example, imagine that you are having a one-on-one meeting with a specific team member and you want to review each project you are working on together and only the specific aspects of that project that involve the both of you. No problem, if you have tagged all notes with the team member in charge of that aspect of the project, simply run a semantic search for the tag you have dedicated to that person so that only the relevant notes pop up.
Remember Everything by Saving to Evernote
The Web Clipper
I have written about this before, but here’s a quick review.
With Evernote, curating content is easier than ever, because you can use Evernote’s Web Clipper Chrome extension to save images and articles as you read them. Simply click on the extension in the Chrome Bar and then choose Save at the bottom to send to Evernote.
Pro Tip: Send all new entries to “*Inbox”, to be reviewed and processed later.
Emailing to Evernote
Every user gets their own unique email address. Add this to your address book and forward important emails that include action items or reference material. This has the added benefit of keeping your inbox free of clutter.
Here are a few more tips that I’m sure you’ll find useful.
Table of Contents
For enhanced organization or for selective use on bigger projects, create a table of contents. In the PC version of the desktop app, simply Ctrl + Click all of the Notes you want to use and then right click and choose Copy Note Links. Then open a new note, titled “Table of Contents” and paste the links to that Note. The links will be named after the title of the note, so choose their titles appropriately. Clicking on these links will automatically open the Note, without having to search for it. This comes in handy when you have lots of reference material that needs to be sorted through quickly and often.
The Mac version is a little more intuitive in that it has an option to create a table of contents which appears when you select two or more Notes.
Use Evernote to Make Google Work Better for You
Turn on the simultaneous search option in the Evernote Web Clipper browser extension to see Evernote results alongside your Google search. You would be surprised how often you search for a solution that you already have.
I love Evernote for collecting and organizing data, which really comes in handy when I’m writing multiple blogs each week for myself and my clients. Let me know how you use Evernote!