Evernote is a flexible electronic filing cabinet available for desktops, phones, and tablets. It means I can easily create or store information wherever I am. And equally importantly, because the information is stored electronically, I can easily search it and track information down. I can use it to type documents or save handwritten notes on screen; it will receive scanned documents or photographs; and I can even use it to create dictated notes or store other sound files. And zapping webpages into it (in a variety of save formats) or those important emails, is a synch.
Because security of information is important to me, I am able to use the internal encryption system built into it to lock sensitive documents.
I use Evernote in a multitude of ways. To give you some idea of its flexibility and usefulness, I have listed the ways below. They are not listed in any order of importance.
Family Picture Storage
I frequently de-clog my phone’s memory and email those cute pictures of grandchildren and other family members to Evernote. They’re stored under a file marked Family Pics. Each note is tagged with the names of the people.
To Do Lists
Evernote is really useful for creating tick-box lists. I have lists of things I need to sort before my next visit to my accountant, of points I want to say when having an important phone call, of small gifts I can ask for when my children want to know what they can get me for my birthday, of books I want to read etc.
I scan all my medical and dental appointment letters directly into Evernote by photographing them using the Scannable app. I can use the calendar function to remind me of important future appointments. I also keep a list of my medication.
I sing in a choir and find Evernote invaluable in helping me keep a huge bundle of related information together. In addition to storing copies of important letters and posters of coming events, I also store copies of lyrics we are learning as well as the relevant sheet music. When we are learning something in rehearsal, I make recordings using the HT Recorder app and then email the MP3 files to Evernote. This helps me practise whenever I have a spare moment.
Research and Writing
Whenever I am gathering material for a presentation I have to make, or for a book or paper I am writing, or simply for a blog post I can gather all the disparate material in an Evernote file. This material could take the form of internet pages harvested using the Evernote Clipper app, or handwritten scribbles, or dictated snippets, scanned material from books or journals, or photographs.
I recently composed a 45,000 word book in Evernote and was able to easily store the final version, together with all the research and various drafts and proofs, and all the correspondence with the publisher in one Evernote file called “Latest Book”. Part of the book was composed on a phone in a coffee shop because I could easily access my synced Evernote files.
In preparation for training courses that I run I usually begin by gathering all the handouts (usually Word or PDF documents) and PowerPoint presentations in one Evernote file. I then create the separate lesson plans. If relevant, I also store any financial information and final accounts in the same file, as well as logistical information (venue planning details), feedback, and post-event correspondence with attendees.
Whenever I attend a course I use Evernote to store pre-course information (venue details, maps, travel information) as well as course handouts, certificates of attendance, and my own learning notes.
When I am working with a colleague on an article or planning a training event it is so easy to share draft documents and ideas for feedback using the collaboration feature. We can easily comment on each other’s ideas and documents.
I used to read really interesting or useful quotations and then never know what to do with them. I now store them in Evernote and tag them by subject so they are easily available for future inclusion in my work.
Part of my work involves professional consultancy. I now give all of my clients an individual Evernote file and use it to store all information relevant to them. This can include: contact information, referral letters, financial quotes and contracts, meeting dates and summaries, telephone call summaries. I could run my business using a physical filing cabinet, but it would require more effort, it wouldn’t be as secure, and the information might be harder to retrieve.
In order to get new work I frequently have to provide evidence of my training, professional credibility, and business insurance. I now have all these documents scanned into Evernote and easily available to attach to any relevant email.
I now use a simple Evernote template to record details of important meetings: date, attendees, venue, time, main points of discussion, action needed.
Occasionally, for important phone calls, I use a simple Evernote template to record details of the call similar to the meeting template above. I sometimes record the call using the CallRec Pro app and store the MP3 file alongside and textual record of the event.
House and Car Information
I used to lose all sorts of important information. I knew I had it saved in a safe place, but I could never remember where that safe place was. I now use Evernote to store a multitude of important scanned documents – for example, the guarantee and manual for the new washing machine, a copy of the car’s last service details, the name of the decorator we used about five years ago, a copy of the quotation we were given for repairs to the garage wall. Many new appliances and gadgets make their instruction manuals available as downloadable PDF files. Whenever we buy something new I immediately go to the company’s website and download the relevant file.
Evernote has a really useful calendar feature which enables you to create a note and set a date when you wish to be reminded of that note. I have a friend who runs a large plumbing and heating business and who uses that function to remind her whenever her many customers need their annual gas safety check on their boilers. I use it for much more mundane purposes – reminding me to buy a birthday present for someone, to prepare for an important meeting, to go to the dentist, to pay a tax bill, to remember to call someone.
It’s great to have a list that you can check to make sure you have packed everything: phone charger (check), glasses (check) … underpants (check).
I use Evernote increasingly for travel and, quite frankly, would be lost without it. It is so reassuring to know that all the information I need is in my phone (or easily accessible via the internet) whenever I go to the airport. So, I use it to store things like initial booking and reservations documents, payment information, insurance documents, tickets and passes, and maps, as well as any useful information I have gleaned from the web about place I intend to visit. These days more and more important documents are sent as PDF files rather than as printed sheets, and it is easy to email them into your Evernote account.
I use the encryption function within Evernote to store important financial documents such as insurance documents, significant bills receipts.
Emails and Email Receipts
I know that you can store emails just by not deleting them. However, I have often found searching emails saved in your email program time consuming and occasionally fruitless. If I have an important email that I know I will easily need access to at some future date, I simply forward a copy to my Evernote account. Once it is there I can tag it with relevant search clues and store it in files with other relevant information that it relates to.
One of my biggest files is called “Email Receipts”. Because of running a business I sometimes need to know that an important email has been received and opened. If I send an a large invoice to a customer via email (my common practice), and if the customer doesn’t pay and when challenged says: “I never received the original invoice,” I need to know the truth about that.
I use ReadNotify to track exactly when the email was received and opened, and when any attached documents were read. If necessary, I need to be able to say to customers, “According to my records, the email was received at 09:36 on 12/07/16 and the accompanying PDF invoice was opened at the same time.” It helps me get paid more quickly.
When this information from ReadNotify hits my email box I have set up a filter to automatically forward it to Evernote and store it in the appropriate file. It is there waiting to be electronically searched if I ever need it.
How do you use Evernote?