How to Use Evernote Effectively
Evernote is a great tool for helping freelance writers and business people be more productive. Designed to be a kind of “digital brain,” it can store bits of information, files, and all kinds of other data in an organized, easy to find way. You can type notes into it, capture all or part of a webpage, email information to it, or scan information you need to recall at a future date. Evernote allows you to organize your notes by notebook and tags, and makes every bit of text, even in photos and PDF’s searchable.Set Up
Before getting started with Evernote, you must create an account:
Once your account is created, you can either begin using the service directly from the website, or download any of their clients for whatever platforms you use (see the button at the bottom of the previous figure). Evernote works on virtually every platform available, including Windows and Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Palm, and Windows Mobile.
Once you have an account created and one of the client programs installed it is time to get started using Evernote. At the top you will notice several buttons for various tasks including syncing, creating new notes, emailing notes, and the search box for searching for notes or text within notes. The sync button synchronizes your account with the Evernote servers, which the client also does every few minutes on it’s own. The new note button creates a new blank note in your default notebook, which you can change to a different notebook at any time. The All Notes button clears out any search criteria you have in place, showing you a list of all your notes. The email button allows you to email notes from within Evernote. Beneath the top bar you will see your list of notebooks (when you first create an account you will only have one notebook by default), a list of notes within that notebook, and the current note selected on the right:
Clicking on any notebook will take you to that notebook and show you it’s contents in the center pane. Clicking on a note will show you that note and allow you to make edits to it. Here you can see a receipt I scanned into Evernote and placed in one of my Work related notebooks.
Creating and Finding Notes
Now that you have figured out how to get around in Evernote, it is time to start making some notes. What can you put in Evernote? Almost anything you want! I use Evernote for many aspects of my business. When I am doing research for article writing I clip information I find using the browser clipping extension, or by dropping screenshots directly into the program.
Whenever I buy something that is tax deductible I either scan the receipt from my printer directly into Evernote, or take a picture of it with my smartphone and send it to the program. I can then retrieve those articles either by looking in my “Blog Research” notebook:
or find those receipts in my “Work” notebook under the tag “receipt.”:
If you cannot remember where you put something or how you tagged it, you can simply search for it. Any text put into Evernote is searchable. In the case of the receipt above, if I could not remember where I stashed it, I could do a search for “Target,” “electronics,” or “Belkin,” since all of those words appear on the receipt.
Uses for Evernote
Evernote’s uses are limited only by your imagination. Almost anything that you need to remember for later, for retrieval anywhere, you can put into Evernote. Here are just a few suggestions.
1. Save Boilerplate Text or Code Coders and writers often have snippets of text and code they reuse often. Creating a notebook of this text will make it easy to retrieve anytime you need it. Simply open the notebook, and cut and paste the text into the program you need it in, even on your phone.
2. Article Research As I stated in the beginning, Evernote is great for collecting research for articles. You can cut and paste portions of websites or documents yourself, or use a browser add on to clip information directly into Evernote. This information can be tagged for later retrieval or a search can be done for anything found in the note.
3. Keep Track of Contact Info Whenever I meet someone who hands me a business card, I always make sure I add a picture of the card to Evernote. I once made a contact that I did not speak to for almost two years. I could not remember their name at all, but knew the name of the company they worked for. Because I had put a photo of their card into Evernote, I simply typed the business name into the search field, and found the contact information I wanted instantly.
4. Create a Searchable Record of all Email Correspondence If you use Gmail, you should know you have virtually unlimited storage space for email, so you never need to delete emails, allowing you to keep a record of all your correspondence. The only problem is that specific emails are not always easy to find. Every Evernote account gets it’s own eamil address, providing another way to get information into Evernote. Whenever someone sends me an important email that I want to save, I forward a copy to Evernote. Now that email can be searched for just like any other text, making it very easy to find. You can also save your tweets by putting the hashtage @myen in a tweet.
5. Track To-Do Lists Evernote also has the ability to insert checkboxes into notes, allowing for the creation of to-do lists. You can also add pictures and other information to your to-do lists just like any other note. So you can make a list of things to do or buy and include pictures to help you find what you are looking for.
6. Create Saved Searches Once you start using Evernote it is only a matter of time before you amass a large amount of notes in all different subjects. If you find yourself searching for the same information regularly you can also create saved searches. Once you have done a search for something, say all notes in your “Stuff” notebook tagged as ‘jazz’:
you can save the search for future retrieval. As you create new notes within these parameters, they will show up in the search list:
Evernote is a free service which also has a premium option. There is no limit to how many notes you can have, however there is a limit to the size of these notes and the amount you can upload each month. Free users are currently limited to a note size of 25 MB and 600 MB of upload per month (most people will not have to worry about hitting that amount). Premium users can store notes up to 50 MB in size with a monthly upload limit of 1 GB per month. For a full list of differences between free and premium accounts, check out the about premium page.
How do you use Evernote? What other features would you like to see to help freelance writers?