If the name of the software doesn’t announce its purpose clearly enough, then the elephant in the green logo lets you know that this is your organizer, message keeper, note taker, planner, journal, receipt filer—all the important stuff you don’t want to forget. I started using Evernote (free) to take notes of observations and assignments from our children’s speech and occupational therapists, then began planning the garden in it, saving travel information, planning menus, and a whole host of other things. In a very short period of time, Evernote became indispensible. When I login to my computer, I open Evernote first and keep it open constantly.
For me the beauty of Evernote lies in three things: 1) notes are organized in a single piece of software rather than individual files scattered all over a hard drive, desk, file cabinet, or countertop, 2) the notebook and tagging capability, and 3) syncing across multiple devices. I keep notebooks on many different topics and use tags for fast searching. Since tags can go across notebooks, it makes finding much faster than basic search. Plus like many wired households, we have business and personal computers, as well as a netbook and smartphone, and Evernote syncs all of the devices so I can access my notes on any of those or via the Evernote website.
Notes can be saved by direct entry via typing or ink, clipping from websites using the Evernote clipper plugin, or scanning to the software using a third party application and hardware such as ScanSnap or Doxie. Notes can include text and pictures and even be a webcam note.
Home and Garden
As we planned the spring garden, I started with lists of things we wanted to grow, then I made a list of seeds and plants to purchase. I added notes about each and every vegetable, herb, fruit tree, and nut tree we had already had growing with location, date planted, and annual measurements. As we put in a couple new growing areas and raised beds this spring, I made notes about each one. As the plants grow and begin to bear fruit, we’ll take notes about production plus any possible diseases or pests we come across.
All of this note-taking helps us the following year because we know what worked and what didn’t, plus we have records of plantings for things that take longer to grow and produce, such as rhubarb, asparagus, grapes, blueberries, and all our fruit and nut trees.
Family and Personal
In addition to tracking progress in speech and occupational therapy for our special needs sons, we also keep track of parent-teacher conference discussions and lists of all the teachers that work with our children so we can plan for end-of-the-year teacher gifts (10 in all). Our emergency phone list, shopping lists for all our favorite stores, travel plans, packing lists for trips, and our weekly menus all here and ready when we need them.
Once I realized the power of Evernote, I immediately began using it for business purposes as well. Keeping track of software licenses and equipment lists and serial numbers can be a major headache, but Evernote keeps it all organized. I also use it for brainstorming ideas for recipes and articles, site design planning, lists of locations for outdoor shoots, business receipts, notes on restaurants, and notes and ideas I gleaned from workshops and conferences.
Evernote quickly became my sanity saver and replaced all those notepads on my desk, printed pieces of paper stuffed in the file cabinet, and sticky notes that used to cover the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. That extra bit of easy organization is priceless in our almost nonstop busy life.