Remember the Palm Pilot?
If you’re old like me and spent time in the corporate world at the turn of the century, you’ll remember how much people used to love those things. To me, it just looked like a Gameboy for adults. I remember guys wearing them on their belts and they looked like, well…dorks. They used that tiny rubber pen to peck away at that little screen like a stoned chicken with the munchies in a feed spill. I’m sure Palm Pilots had their merits. In fact, Tim Ferris used one and references it in his book “The Four Hour Work Week”. However, in most consumer’s hands, this and many “productivity” tools are often more flash than actual time savers. This is not the case with Evernote. Evernote is both easy to use and extremely productive with very little setup time.
Wikipedia remarks that “Evernote is a cross-platform, freemium app designed for note taking, organizing, and archiving.” You download the app to your phone and start grabbing notes via the camera. Snap a picture of a business card, sign, or anything with text on it, and that text is captured instantly, and is magically indexed and searchable later. You can also snap pictures of whiteboards and projected PowerPoints during meetings or training. You can then tune out and check your Facebook feed without reservation because all that important information you just captured will be searchable from your phone when you need it later on.
There is software for your desktop or laptop which provides a better interface for indexing, organizing, and viewing your notes. You can create “notebooks”. For my sales job, I create a notebook for each of my customers. The notebooks can also be grouped into “Notebook Stacks”. In the image below, you can see I have stacks called Acute Care and Alt Site. These are Notebook Stacks for which I have individual customer notebooks grouped into.
There is also a web clipper that snaps up screenshots, bookmarks, or web pages with options of how robust of a format you want to clip and save. You can use the clipper and store your favorite pages for reference instead of using favorites or bookmarks in your browser. You’ll like this better because it offers a better index of your favorite web pages than your internet browser’s pull down list.
You also have the option to take a screenshot. That comes in handy for online training modules with a test at the end. I often have to take those for training on the products that I sell. I can take screenshots of the training module as I’m viewing the training program from my laptop. I can also type my own notes on the same note as the screenshot. Then, while I’m taking the test on my laptop, I can reference the notes and screenshots on my phone, searching each screenshot and note by text. I can then access that information later on from my phone easily by text search when I need to recall it for a customer question.
Another cool feature is that you can “tag” a note. Once you’ve captured your note, whether by phone or laptop, you can add a tag to it. One tag I use is “Phone”. I’ll snap a business card or screenshot of an address and phone number from a web page then tag it as “Phone”. Then, whenever I’ve got some time to make phone calls, I’ll pull up all the notes which are tagged “Phone” and have a list of people I need to call. Those notes can come from different notebooks or stacks and as long as they have been tagged they will all populate in one list.
Here’s an example of a note I created by snapping a picture of a business card:
When you click on the “i” button, it gives you the option to to add a tag. Previously, I had created the tag, “Phone”.
Now, when I want to see all my notes that have been tagged “Phone”, I can select the Phone tag and all the notes tagged “Phone” will be listed together, so I can scroll through all the people I need to call.
If you’re a fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, or GTD, you can find Youtube tutorials on how to incorporate that methodology into the Evernote platform. Evernote also has a “widget” so you can have favorite folders available from your phone’s Home Screen.
Evernote offers both free and premium versions. Premium offers a built in Business Card Scanner (a really good one), the ability to Search in Office docs and PDFs, annotate attached PDFs, browse note history, and offers priority customer support (which I’ve never needed to use). One feature I really like with the Premium version is the ability to forward emails to Evernote. You can then index or tag your emails right along with your other notes.
It’s 2017 and I’m just starting a blog and I remember the Palm Pilot. I’m not exactly an early adopter and I am neither hip nor savvy, tech or otherwise. I can’t even remember how I heard of Evernote but I’ve been using it consistently now for at least 4 years. It’s a great tool and will start saving you time as soon as you sign up. It offers plenty of features for free, so give it a whirl. You can start by downloading the app or going to evernote.com.