I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while but keep putting it off because, to be honest, it feels like a big thing to me. Its one thing to write about how I feel – its easy. It just rolls off my fingertips as I’m typing. Or to type an old poem up and include it on my blog. But whats harder is to write an in depth review recommending something that you think might help people. That, I find a bit daunting. So I decided to bite the bullet and just start. Oh, before I do though, I will just say that I’m writing this because I want to. I haven’t been asked to by Evernote or paid or anything like that.
I have also decided that this is going to be the first in a series of posts which I’m going to call “Tech for Mummies”. The reason for this name is not because I don’t think Mummies are capable of understanding technology and need it spelling out for me. Its a play on the “For Dummies” series of books and given that most of my followers are likely to be mummies (specifically other Mummy bloggers) I thought it was quite a clever play on words. Interestingly (I have to admit that this idea – those words – were not my idea. They were the idea of a colleague who was very helpful when I was migrating over from Blogger to WordPress. I won’t name him as I don’t have permission, but if you are reading this, thank you! Great idea! And if I get rich, I’ll chuck you some money!
Why I use Evernote
I am a big fan of being organised (even though I am a messy and slightly hectic person) and anything that can help me keep things together is great in my eyes. I don’t even know where to start in telling you how useful Evernote has been to me. I used to be a huge fan of having a filofax but I used to get really frustrated with how quickly it would fill up (because I’d like to write everything down and have a list for EVERYTHING) and I’d have to get more inserts and then it would start to bulge. I am also a huge fan of technology. I have an iphone, an iPad (which is actually used more by my kids than me) and recently I acquired (took out a loan for) my beloved MacBook Air. Which I am typing on right now. I love how Apple Products seamlessly work together. I’m just using this as a way to describe how I love technology that helps you live your life (photos all uploading to your devices automatically, shared reminders (or shopping) lists etc….). You don’t have to have any apple products to benefit from Evernote. But Evernote also has that going for it – that it seamlessly synchronises between whatever devices you use.
I started out using Evernote as a place to type up lists and ideas. It syncs between your computer (whether PC or Mac), your phones – it has Android, Blackberry & iOS versions and you can also access all your stuff online. As I got using it more and more, I started to look around for somewhere I could upload my documents. After losing a laptop and losing all my files I was keep to have them backed up in the cloud somewhere. I first looked into Dropbox but they charged by the amount of storage you take up and I ran out of free space. Then I found out that Evernote can keep documents too. I think at the time I had to pay for Premium membership to take advantage of being able to upload documents other than PDF’s. I think that may have changed now – although I am still a premium subscriber.
What I use it for
I could blather on all day about how great I think it is but I should probably tell you a few things that I use it for storing and keeping organised:
- All my personal documents (Excel spreadsheets, word documents, etc) that used to be stored on my computer hard drive
- A list of wines I like (we buy it by the case online to save money) – I take a photo of the label and then write whether I like it or not
- My blog:
- Ideas for future blog posts
- Blog posts ones posted – I use an automatic too called If This Then That (IFTTT) which automatically feeds any new posts published using Blogger into Evernote – it even allows for specific tags and notebooks so I have them come into my Mum in a Hurry notebook with a tag “blog posts – posted”.
- Interesting blog hops or linkies that I want to join in with
- List of my usernames and passwords – I encrypt the text to make it more safe.
- Articles or blog posts that I have read and found interesting
- Screenshots of confirmation of purchases (if email hasn’t come through)
- Emails about anything important (confirmation of purchases, future travel details, party invites)
- Instagram photos – another use for IFTTT. I have new Instagram photos automatically feed into my evernote account – tagged with “instagram”.
- Shopping lists
- Pack lists
- To Do Lists
- Scrapbook items
- Scanned copies of kids artwork or photos of it if a creation that is not flat
- Scanned invitations (kids birthdays, weddings)
- Scanned copies of old letters and cards (even if I’m keeping them I find security in knowing that I have at least a digital copy somewhere backed up)
- Wallet-type information:
- Copy of passport, drivers license, loyalty cards, library card
- Scanned copies of favourite recipes
- Recipes collected off the internet
- Study notes:
- I take screenshots and bulleted notes and save any PDF documents that I may need in my studies.
Capturing your data
Capturing data into Evernote is made very easy. You can create a note through their desktop app, you can create a note on your phone, you can snap a picture straight into the phone app (iPhone, Android & Blackberry), you can save content directly from the internet using their Web Clipper and you can send information to your evernote account by email. The great thing about Evernote is how easy it is to capture information!
How is Evernote Organised
Evernote has different ways to organise your information.
First of all, you have notes. This is the thing that stores your data. Whether it’s text, pictures, links or files, it goes in a note. A note can contain just one of these things or many.
Your notes are held in notebooks. You can either have one notebook which will automatically be set up for you when you open an account, or you can have many notebooks.
I have the following notebooks:
- @Inbox – the @ sign is so that this notebook appears at the top of my notebook list. I have this as my default notebook so that any new stuff goes into here and I process them – allocate them a notebook, tag and rename them if necessary.
- Archive – most things go in here
- Family – a shared notebook between my husband and I
- Mum in a Hurry – anything to do with my blog
- pBloggers – a shared notebook where the pBloggers Team throw ideas, lists and draft posts.
- PM Training – my study notebook
- Recipe book – self explanatory
- Turkish – for my Turkish language notes – which I’ve been completely neglecting
A note can only be in one notebook at a time.
Tags are a way of assigning a category or keyword to a note. A note can have one or many tags. I use tags in a variety of ways. Mainly its to divide the main category (the notebook) into smaller subcategories. So for my Recipes Notebook I have tags like: main, soup, cakes, etc.
Even if you only had one notebook and didn’t use any tags you could still find something you wanted by using Evernote’s search engine. You can type in a key word that might be in the title or main body of your note. However, Evernote’s clever search engine will not only search the title and body, it will also search any PDF’s, documents, even hand written notes that you may have taken a photo of and sent to your Evernote account. As well as searching for keywords, you can also use some clever html type code thingies (do you like my technical speak?) to tell Evernote exactly what you are looking for. For instance, if I type “-tag:*” into the search, Evernote will find any notes that do NOT have a tag. I could elaborate by saying “notebook:”Mum in a Hurry” -tag:*” which would find any notes in my Mum in a Hurry notebook that do not have any tags. Occassionally, I will use this search function (which I have as a Saved Search by the way) to make sure my notebooks are organised. You can see a list of all the clever search codey things here.
The other OTHER fantastic thing about Evernote is the way in which you can share either entire notebooks with people or groups of people or if you prefer you can choose to simply share individual notes. Once shared, you have the option to unshare anything should you change your mind. In fact, the pBloggers Team used Evernote to organise ideas and draft blog posts and we could all access them whenever we liked.
In summary, I think everyone would benefit from having an Evernote Account. Create an account for free and see how you go. If I’ve missed anything out that you think I should have included, please let me know and I will add it/create a new post. Hope you like this post and find it interesting. If you do, please do comment. 🙂