Working, studying, running a business…all of these require being organised. The best way to organise a busy life is to find a method that combines all aspects of your life in one place.
It took me awhile to find an app I liked but, for the last two years, I have used Evernote almost every day and I think I’d feel lost without it.
This blog post will explain the features and benefits of the Evernote tool. I also share ways that I use it in all areas of my life – in my studies, my business, blogging and just generally to organise myself.
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So what is Evernote?
Evernote is a mobile and computer app that helps you get and stay organised by storing your notes and documents in the cloud.
Basic (free account) – 60MB a month storage and usage across 2 synced devices
Plus (around £2.50 a month) – 1GB a month and usage for unlimited devices. I have this account.
· Save text, photos and audio
· Make lists you can check off
· Save and access PDFs
· Set reminders
· Save webpages and images
· Search for text in notes, PDFs and images
· You can set up shortcuts to your favourite notes and notebooks
· Create different notebooks to organise your notes
· Make sketches and draw simple diagrams in your notes
· Sync all notes and notebooks across 2 devices (unlimited with paid accounts)
· Plus account – select notebooks and save them for offline use
· Plus account – forward emails to your own Evernote email address to save them
- No need to worry about losing or forgetting a physical notebook. Access your notes anywhere with Internet access (or offline with a paid account)
- Useful to store and separate different notes as notebooks can be created to slot notes into
- Create comprehensive notes by combining text, images, lists, audio, web pages, PDFs, diagrams...etc. all in one file
- You can start straight away - no training needed
- Easy to use interface with more formatting options than a basic note taking app
- Easy to store all your notes in one place as they sync automatically between devices. Start a note on one device and finish it on another.
Ways I use Evernote
· I create quick to do lists almost every day. Sometimes these are just the 5 things I want to do when I get home from work. You can create lists with little checkboxes which satisfies my love of checking off competed tasks!
· I use the web clipping tool to save recipes from websites into the app. This is an add-on available for most web browsers
· I also have a journal notebook which I use when my brain is just a little too full of thoughts – kinda like a not-so-impressive version of Dumbledore’s Pensieve. If I’m feeling stressed about anything (work, university, business, friends…etc.) I open a note and just scribble down all of my thoughts without stopping. Writing it down helps me feel less stressed and sometimes it evens helps me find solutions to my problems.
· I save PDFs of my readings so I can access them wherever and whenever. If I’m travelling by train or in a café I can access my materials to take notes – without having to lug hefty textbooks everywhere!
· I set up a note at the beginning of a block of work and copy over my essay question and guidance. Then, whenever I’m studying I can jot down any essay ideas that come to me in that note on my phone or laptop. When you take a break from studying your brain continues to make connections between what you read. Evernote allows me to record these thoughts
· I make audio notes – either to remind myself to do something, or because I can’t type out a thought right now. I went out for a run a few months ago to destress from essay writing and a great point came to me mid-run. A few clicks and swipes on my phone and I was able to leave an audio note for myself to listen to later. I must have looked very strange shouting into my phone about emergent strategy and complexity theory but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
· I record all of my blog and content ideas in one notebook. I create a separate note for each idea and scribble down a few thoughts. Whenever I’m at a loss for ideas I can just scroll through my list
· I also have a separate notebook for general business ideas that come to me or that I learn through listening to podcasts and audiobooks. Every so often I read through these notes and grab an idea or two to act on.
- It can be difficult to get the full benefits without forking out for one of the paid accounts. If you use it a lot you’ll soon run out of space on a free account
- It hasn’t completely replaced my use of pen and paper as I really enjoy mapping out my ideas physically. Maybe Evernote could introduce a simple mind mapping feature
- Evernote should only be used to take notes you then copy into other documents. Evernote uses a file extension that doesn’t integrate well with other software. If I’m drafting some essay points I’ll email myself the note from the app and then copy the text into Word.
As Evernote is free I would say it makes sense to download the app and try it. See if you like it and can see yourself using it enough to make upgrading to a paid version worthwhile.
I hope you found this review useful. Leave a comment below with your views on Evernote.
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Great review Chloe – thanks for sharing. I’ve never really got on with Evernote and since they changed the pricing structure I’ve not really persevered – sounds pretty comprehensive though if you can get over the cost! 🙂
Thanks for the comment Lucy! Yeah I definitely think the new pricing will put people off. I paid for my Plus account annually which I think is not quite as annoying as it coming out monthly! Chloe
Question… I tried using Evernote for a while at work, and actually found it a bit overwhelming… I ended up switching back to Outlook’s tasks tool. In Evernote, I was using David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method, where you have tags for today, tomorrow, next week, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. I also had tags for categories of work, whether it was case management, supervision, program development, meetings, etc. Maybe things were just way too cross-tabulated, I don’t know, but it felt rather cluttered and was more overwhelming than helpful. How do you go about organizing your tags? And do you keep setup pretty simple, with just the recipes, school readings, personal to-do lists, and notes? Sometimes I think about switching back to Evernote, but I’d have to do more thinking through the best setup for me… I do like the idea of being able to work on essays, etc., when I’m out and about, without having to lug everything around with me. I think that would be super helpful once I head back to grad school next year.
Hey Michelle, thanks for the comment. I agree that Evernote can be very complex at times and I think what you said is key – finding the best set up for you. I mainly stick to just my notebooks where I’ve created one for each area of my life. Tags are great but to get the most out of them I think you need to create nests of them – which aren’t easy to manage on phones or tablets. I use the search feature a lot instead to help me find things more easily. Some people set up a default notebook such as “inbox” then go through and manually file them into other notebooks as and when. I’ve found it a great help for essays and getting my thoughts down while studying. If you do decide to use it again email me and let me know how it goes email@example.com – I need some more Evernote pals!
Thanks Chloe for that feedback! That’s helpful! I think I might def give it another try. 🙂
I have always wondered why so many people like evernote. Thanks for this review. It was very helpful. Enjoy the rest of the challenge.
Thanks for the comment William! It took me awhile to find out all the things Evernote could do but I’m glad I did 🙂
A great review here, and like youI have been a user for a couple of years now, and paying for the plus account.
The biggest negative that I have found is when I tried to use Evernote as a place to write blog content to do so without an internet connection it inserts some extra HTML tags around the paragraphs when you copy it across the WordPress.
Otherwise for storing notes and research it is a perfect solution.
Hi Joel, thanks for the comment. I haven’t tried doing that – I normally draft stuff in Evernote and then copy to Word before I send to WordPress. Sounds long-winded but I use Thrive content editor instead of the WordPress editor so I need the formatting perfect before I copy it across.
I love Evernote! I tried it once years ago and just didn’t get it, but when I started gathering content and training for blogging, I came back to it and now I can’t live without it! I use a tag structure similar to that outlined by Michael Hyatt here http://michaelhyatt.com/evernote-tags.html and it has really worked well for me on the organization side. I do pay for the Plus account, it is totally worth it!
Thanks for the comment Joni! I’ve started using the tags but nowhere near as complex as the one Michael Hyatt uses – wow! I agree with him that notebooks do have their downfall as I do have some notes I’d like to file in two places. I think Evernote is great as you can evolve in your use of it. Some people will just want to use it as a notebook, others will want a massive system like Michael H. I’m definitely going to keep playing around with my system!