It’s been a solid two years (at least), but after the necessity of collaborating with a close friend on a project, I’m back to an old staple: Evernote.
There were a number of options we considered including Wunderlist and Remember the Milk, but it turned out that the broad organizational functionality of Evernote would work best for the type of collaboration we were going to undertake.
Why I Stopped Using Evernote
Before I go into what Evernote is, it’s important to know first what it is not.
My main reason for ditching Evernote was the attempt to use it for something it’s not optimized for: comprehensive task management. Mind you, Evernote does allow you to create notebooks containing simple to-do lists, but this is a far cry from the ability to schedule, delay, and reorder complicated projects and tasks in a streamlined fashion. Plus, having action items intermixed with a plethora of reference materials such as notes and website captures made for a less than productive workflow.
When I recently began using Evernote again for what it’s intended purpose (notes), I found it to be an invaluable resource.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “well duh, emphasis on the word ‘note’ in Ever-note. There’s a reason it’s not called ‘Evertask!'”
Unfortunately, I had to learn this one the hard way.
At the time of my previous Evernote experience, I was fixated upon having one platform to manage everything. I wanted something that could handle all my notes, projects, tasks, contacts, and everything but the kitchen sink. It’s taken the last couple of years to come to grips with the fact that such an app doesn’t exist.
After I gave up my dream app idea, I’ve found a number of tools that do an extraordinary job at handling one aspect of my workflow. A workflow of which Evernote has now become central.
Here’s a breakdown of the apps I rely upon most heavily for my day to day work:
- Tasks: Things
- Notes: Evernote
- Calendar: iCloud Calendar
- Email: Sparrow
- Blogs: Feedly
- Social Media: Tweetbot
Upon making Evernote a regular weapon in my productivity arsenal, I went hunting for tips for best utilizing the platform. Fortunately, I come across a highly useful article on the subject by Michael Hyatt.
In the article, Michael emphasizes his strategy of relying more heavily upon tags and less so on static Notebooks.
I’ve adopted a similar method with only four Notebooks and utilizing tags for everything else:
The workflow works in a simple three-step process:
- Collect: Gather new notes, web clips, audio recordings, and other content in the “Inbox” Notebook.
- Sort: Go through every item in the Inbox, tag each item, and move them to the “Archive” Notebook.
- Reference: Simply go to the “Tags” view to sort items relevant to the topic in question, or use Evernote’s powerful search feature to dig something out.
Notes on Steroids
If you happen to have an iPad (or supported tablet) and you’re fine with using a stylus, you can take your note collecting to the next level.
I recently began using the Penultimate iPad app in combination with the Wacom Bamboo stylus for handwriting notes. The result has added an extra boost in my productivity workflow.
Now I can sketch down ideas, jot down hand-written notes and have them sync directly into my Evernote Inbox. The best part is that Evernote’s fancy search feature allows me to search through these handwritten notes (poor penmanship and all):
What Tools Have Helped Your Productivity?
Those are just a few elements of what have made Evernote a once more essential part of my creative workflow. What tool has helped you?