How I Use Evernote

I’m a bit of an Evernote junkie, so a lot of my friends tend to ask me how I use Evernote. I’ll be the first to admit, aside from using it as a digital memo pad, the uses of it aren’t obvious from the get go. It was only after experimenting with different methods and reading how different people used it that I started to use Evernote more.

I always stress that there isn’t one specific way to use Evernote, but I just wanted to list out some of the ways that I use it, which might be insightful to some, and more importantly help me answer the question of how I use Evernote when it’s posed to me.

So, in no particular order, here are the various ways I use Evernote:

Context:

  1. I’m an Evernote junkie, so things might sound overly positive. The best thing is to try it out for yourself and come to your own conclusions.
  2. I’m currently working in business development, while also helping out with my family business, as well as my fiancée’s business. So Evernote helps a lot with the juggling work.
  3. I’m long winded, so this article might go on for a while.
  4. I’m not affiliated with Evernote in any way, so I’m not getting any kickbacks for this. I did win some nice goodies during the recent Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine launch, though. Yay.

To do list

My task list to conquer the earth has been censored out to ensure an efficient execution
My task list to conquer the earth has been censored out to ensure an efficient execution

This is the main thing I use Evernote for on a daily basis. I have a note that has been segregated into the different days, and I use checkboxes to know what needs to be done and what has been done. There are also separate note links to specific checklists for specific companies/tasks that I need to monitor from time to time, including my monthly accounts.

Notes for my upcoming wedding:

Always get what the missus likes
Always get what the missus likes

I’m getting married sometime in 2013, so there is a bunch of stuff that needs to be arranged and discussed. I’ve set up a shared notebook with my fiancée, and we can clip different things into the notebook. Stuff such as decorations, wedding dress designs, invitation card ideas, and even a scanned list of family members for the tea ceremony. As we inch closer to the actual date, I’m sure the activity in this notebook will increase dramatically. The activity stream helps me keep in touch with what has been going on in the notebooks.

Notes for the house renovation:

I really don't like slippery floors
I really don’t like slippery floors

Another shared notebook I have is one for some house renovation ideas. Snapping/saving photos of ideas is always useful, though I usually take it one step further and use Skitch to annotate the picture, marking out specific features that I want. You might not think it’s important, but it’ll help your partner/team understand what the picture is about, and I myself tend to forget several months down the line. Skitch is available for most major platforms out there, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.

Name card database:

Yay for fast food!
Yay for fast food!

I keep most of my contacts in my phone, but there is always this large stack of name cards on my table. This stack normally includes some vendors that I won’t be needing anytime soon, random people I meet, people that I might not need to talk to in a long time, and also friends who have cool name cards. I try to keep the contacts in my phone as lean as possible, and with that in mind, I scan all the spare name cards into Evernote using the Canon scanner at home (though what I really want is the Fujitsu Scansnap S1300i), and trash the cards. Evernote has a (surprisingly) powerful image recognition feature, and if you’re a premium user, will allow for image recognition in PDFs too. So the cards are cleared from my desk, and I can always retrieve the information whenever I want. This worked out a lot better than previous products such as the PenPower WorldCard scanners that tried to recognise the text and translate it into the proper fields in Outlook and all that stuff (which never worked properly). This is clean, simple, and fast.

I’m a pretty big fan of Digitwirl, and Carly has a nice video on how to go paperless with the Fujitsu ScanSnap and Evernote:

Receipt depository:

I usually end up with a lot of receipts that I won’t need unless something goes wrong. This includes receipts such as cheque deposit receipts, receipts for stuff that has a short warranty period, certain claims etc. I’m always loathe to keep those things as they tend to bulk up my wallet, so they end up in Evernote. Every now and then I clear off all the receipts that I have no more use for in Evernote, just to keep things neat.

Article clipper:

I read a lot of articles on the Internet, probably out of habit from my time as a tech writer on Ubergizmo a few years ago, and I don’t always have time to read them all. So I use the Evernote web clipper to save most of the articles into Evernote. I also use Pocket to save articles for light reading, and if it’s important to archive it, I’ll send it to Evernote. As a premium user, I have offline notebooks, so I end up reading those articles during lunchtime in the food court, something that is Godsend because there is no phone signal in that place (and the food is terrible).

Travel companion:

I travel to Singapore quite often, but not often enough that I remember all the strange codes for my prepaid phone line, or the code to call back to Malaysia using my principle line, so all those are in Evernote too. I also dump all my travel documents such as the flight itinerary, hotel booking slip, MRT maps and such into my travel notebook. Just a word of caution, remember to set it as an offline notebook, as you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a foreign country, have no Internet connection, and be unable to access your documents.

Visuals for other people:

There are times when no about of verbal communication will get the point across, or maybe my vocabulary just isn’t up to snuff. So simple examples would be an X-ray for my dentist. I’m loathe to carry those things around, and I often misplace it. For some reason, my dentist hasn’t complained (yet) when I show her a snapped picture of the X-ray.

The barber is another example. I never could remember all those terms that barbers use to describe hair, and I still have no idea what “layering” is. So I’ve saved a picture of a haircut that I think looks okay, and show it to the barber every month. If he does a particularly good job, I save a picture of myself with the new haircut and show it to him the next time I need one. This is bordering on being lazy, but I’m pretty shameless about using tech to avoid work.

Tickets:

I often have a bunch of tickets that I need to be able to access later, such as movie tickets (via email), and event confirmation tickets with QR codes. I just email all those things into my Evernote account, and retrieve them when I need them. I also tag them “periodical”, which is my tag for stuff that I won’t need after a while. So every once in a while I clear out everything from the “periodical” list.

Templates:

meetingI’ve done up some templates for situations that crop up from time to time, such as meetings and phone calls to customer support. In these cases, I’ll have template ready and I just fill it up as the meeting goes along. It’s a pretty handy way to take minutes for meetings, especially when all the text is searchable, as compared to going through multiple Microsoft Word documents to look for a specific item from previous meetings.

Final thoughts:

There are some other ways I use Evernote, such as a companion to Penultimate, but I won’t go into details here, since this has already gone on for a lot longer than I expected. If you’re still reading at this point, some of you might as: “so is everything peachy keen in Evernote-land?” The simple answer is no. There are some minor quibbles, such as note conflicts which happen when I put my MacBook to sleep before Evernote has finished synchronising and edit the note on my PC, but that’s happens with iCloud too, so I’m not too bothered. One thing I do hope Evernote fixes is a bug/quirk where is removes my offline notebooks without asking me, but I’m sure that’s something that will be fixed over time.

If you’re looking for more examples of how people use Evernote in their lives, you might want to check out the Evernote lifestyle forum, as there are plenty of tips and tricks there. I hope this post answered your question!

Additional ideas:

Updated on 4-Feb-2013 with note templates. Apparently some of my friends found this quite helpful, so here it is.

Published by matt

A tech enthusiast who spent his first paycheck ever on a mobile phone. Over a decade later, he's still throwing all his money at mobile technology, much to the chagrin of his wife.

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