Evernote is like having a brilliant, user friendly memory extension bolted onto your brain – except without the bolts. You can use it to save and organise notes, ideas, pictures, documents and more and access them from anywhere
It’s been described as a ‘digital brain’ and that’s exactly what it is.
It’s revolutionised the way I organise my digital life – and it’s free. I’m kicking myself I didn’t come across this sooner. It’s perfect if you need to keep important information, ideas, notes, itineraries or anything organised for your work, your family or your hobby.
Now I know this might sound like every other ‘boring’ organisational app or tool that’s ever been made, but it really is brilliant. You can access it on virtually any device – your PC, your mac, your smart phone, your tablet. So if you need to access something at work, on holiday or on the train, you can.
You might be asking yourself…
Why can’t I just use DropBox? How is it different from all the other cloud-based apps out there? What the hell is a cloud-based app? Do I really have to learn yet another new-fangled online thing?
All good questions and I could probably write a thirty thousand word response, but I’d die from boredom writing it and you’d die from boredom reading it. So instead I’ll keep the answer short and simple:
- Evernote is the most user friendly online tool or ‘app’ that I’ve come across
- You can use it any computer and virtually any handheld device
- You should still use DropBox to store ‘big files’ (like high resolution photographs, videos or large word docs that you want to edit) but use Evernote for everything else. Think of it as a personal organiser, your very own reference libary
So what can you use Evernote for?
I thought it might be helpful if I ran through some different ways you can use Evernote. These are the best ‘real world’ applications that I’ve come across and use it for personally. You may think of others. If you do, please leave a comment below and share it with the community.
7 ways to use Evernote to streamline your digital life
1. Store your medical records, insurance details and bills
Instead of wading through thousands of old emails looking for the right document, simply stick it all in Evernote. That way you can keep important documents and emails in individual folders for easy access wherever you are. For example, you could quickly pull up relevant medical details while you’re at your doctor using your phone.
2. Clear up your email clutter
Before I discovered Evernote I used to put emails that I found useful or I wanted to refer back into different folders. This worked quite well at first, but then it got more and more complex as I added new folders. I would log into my email and get overwhelmed by this massive list and the more it grew, the harder it became to find things. With Evernote you can forward emails and messages you want to store and organise in a simple click. You can then put it inside it’s own notebook (effectively a folder) and, crucially, tag it so that you can quickly search for it afterwards. So for example if you wanted to find a particular email about train timetable (I know, EXCITING) you could just type in ‘train timetables’ and it would instantly pop up.
3. Keep all your recipes in one place
I struggle to make toast, but Sophie is a whizz in the kitchen and likes to keep all her recipes in one place. With Evernote she can store them in different ‘notebooks’ and organise them in any number of ways – by ingredients, by courses… you name it. Simply tag each recipe with as many words or phrases as you want. e.g. ‘soup’, ‘butternut squash’ you name it.
4. Have all your travel documents (and your itinerary) handy
You can put all the travel documents you need for an upcoming trip in one place: your flight ticket, travel insurance, hotel bookings and even your itinerary. If something gets stolen or you need medical assistance you can instantly access all your travel insurance details from your phone (no need to lug around bits of paper everywhere). Before I go on a trip I also like to do a lot of background reading on ‘things to do and see’. I put any interesting tidbits I find into Evernote so that I can access the best bits.
5. Come super prepared to meetings and brainstorms
Put clippings, charts, reports, notes and feedback in Evernote so that when you have your next meeting or brainstorm you can run through your notes and then quickly back it up with examples and figures. Yes, you could do this on word or powerpoint (and you might want to do that as well) but Evernote allows you to store different types of media – from images and charts to websites and word docs. It’s also accessible from anywhere. If your laptop breaks down you can simply log into your Evernote account from another machine and everything will be right there.
6. Save those ‘lightbulb’ moment thoughts and ideas
You can quickly note down your thoughts, ideas on your PC, your laptop, your mobile phone, your tablet and store them in Evernote. You can even take photos and store them instantly in Evernote using a special app (which I cover in this article). This is perfect if you’ve just had a brainwave on the bus or watching TV on the sofa. Instead of jotting ideas down on bits of paper or on the ‘notes’ app on your phone you can put it into Evernote and organise them.
7. Record the best bits from talks, lectures or meetings
Whether your sitting in a lecture theatre listening to someone drone on about oxbow lakes or in a weekly work catchup, you can photograph projector slides and store them in Evernote, or jot down important quotes and action points. When you later come to reference them in a week, a month or a year they’ll all be in one place, neatly organised.
That’s it! As I said if you think of any others please leave a comment below.
You can sign up for a free account Evernote account here:
Before you do, I want to explain something. There is an option to pay for a premium account but unless you’re planning on using it to store HUGE, great big files you won’t need it (use Dropbox for that). The data allowance you get on the free version of Evernote is more than adequate for most people (including yours truly).
There’s a slight caveat to that…
When you first sign up you’ll probably want to quickly transfer a lot of ‘stuff’ onto there and this might tip you over your monthly data limit. Use the link above and you’ll get one month’s ‘Premium’ data allowance for free. So go crazy putting stuff onto Evernote in your first month with all that extra data in your allowance and then after that you should be fine. You don’t have to enter any card details or anything like that. I think the premium option is more suited for larger businesses or particularly heavy users.