Five productive jobs for Evernote

Evernote‘s logo is the elephant, the creature with a reputation for never forgetting, and it’s true that Evernote allows me to capture tasks and to-dos whenever I think of them and funnel them into my task management system.

Evernote logoThe logo could just as well be a lasso, though, since what Evernote does best is to capture information from multiple sources — web pages, whiteboards, snapshots, twitter messages, scribbles, and notes; display it on your computer or smartphone, or on the web; and sort it.

While some new tech tools make us scratch our heads and wonder why, the uses for Evernote are immediate and obvious.

Here are a few really useful things that Evernote can do.

1. When a client asked for help setting up a new and bigger filing system in their new headquarters, I searched online for storage options for large paper media such as surveys and architectural plans. I tagged each entry with the client’s name. Then the client and I sat down at their computer and looked at all the options I had found for them, with no hit-and-miss web searches along the way. The client was able to see the styles and prices available and make a fast decision.

2. While working remotely with a colleague, she wrote on a whiteboard, snapped photos of the board, and loaded the photo into Evernote. Because access to Evernote is available on the web, computer (Mac and PC), and mobile phone, and because Evernote recognizes text in the image, I could access the notes and search them to use in my part of our project.

3. When I planned a recent trip to the Napa Valley, I captured websites of restaurants, wineries, chocolate shops, and olive oil producers. I photographed wine labels to remember. I pasted reviews and “top 10” lists, all tagged with the name of the trip, plus “travel”, “wine”, “reservation”, and a few other words. While on the road, I used my iPhone to check the reservation confirmation for the Schramsberg winery tour and click the link to get the exact address.

4. When a friend flew out of the airport a few hours before her husband flew in, she used her smart phone to photograph the location of the parking space where she’d left the car and pasted it into Evernote. When her husband landed, he accessed the note on his phone, saw where the car was waiting, and drove it home, trading a few hours’ parking for two taxi fares.

5. Evernote could make a searchable recipe file,  with scanned or downloaded recipes tagged with main ingredients, cuisine, and appropriate course.

The basic service is free; a premium service, with no ads, more collaboration capability, and more file types synchronized, costs a modest $5 a month or $45 a year — who knew you could keep an elephant for peanuts?

Have you used Evernote? Tell us what it does for you by leaving a comment here.


7 comments so far

  1. Claire Tompkins on

    Hi, Margaret,
    I keep reading about Evernote and have dipped my toe in it occasionally, but I’m still not convinced. Isn’t there still the issue of how you retrieve all those wonderful notes? How do you file them? How do you remember they’re even there?

  2. New Leaf News on

    Claire, “back in the day” (two years ago, or so) good filing was necessary for good retrieval. Now search technology has begun to eliminate the need for filing by using tags and search instead. In fact, in a world of great desktop search, filing by category actually gets in the way of good retrieval.

    As you know, Paper Tiger software ( has made use of a form of search for many years to deal with paper documents. Once tagged with keywords and logged into Paper Tiger, a document can be found by its number — no more trying to recall whether it was named “auto”, “car”, “vehicle” or “Honda”, or recall whether the article on goal-setting for non-profits you wanted was filed under “goal-setting” or “organizing for non-profits”.

    It’s happening in email, too. In Lauren Halagarda’s ( session on “Detox Your Inbox” at the 2009 NAPO Conference, she explained how to achieve in-box empty with just 3 email folders and a good desktop search.

    Remembering that the notes exist is still an issue, and always will be, I think, for as long as we get more information than we can hold in our minds. It sure is an issue for me with my paper files and old bookmarked websites, and I imagine I’m not alone. But in a digital search, the notes will come up when needed, even if I’ve forgotten that I had them.

    One of the real cool things that Evernote does is to take notes from all kinds of platforms, even hand-written notes and photos, and make their contents searchable. Wow!

  3. […] The longer I use Evernote, the more I like this free tool for storing, sorting, and retrieving information. Is your desk littered with a bunch of little notes that you don’t know how to keep? Evernote might be the answer to keeping the information but ditching the paper. […]

  4. Janet Barclay on

    Margaret, I know from your post and some others that I’ve read that Evernote is really amazing, but I’m reluctant to try it, because I’m sure I’ll need to set aside at least a day to learn how it works and figure out how I can best use it. Can you convince me otherwise?

    • Margaret Lukens on

      Janet, plan to do something fun with that day — you won’t need it to learn Evernote. My experience with Evernote is that it’s simple and intuitive. The hardest part for me was getting used to using fewer tags than I might use in this blog, for example. Keeping the tag list shorter makes it easier for my brain to find the broad category I’m looking for, and I can still type keywords into the text portion of the note, which will come up in a search. So if a store sells office furniture, I can use a tag called “office” and one called “furniture,” than type a keyword into the text to remind myself that this is where they have those really comfy “desk” “chairs” I liked.

      There are many features in Evernote, but you don’t have to learn them all at once. A new user can begin getting rid of those little slips of paper littering the desk immediately. So, are you convinced?

      • Janet Barclay on

        Not quite… since I don’t tend to keep little slips of paper anyway. But I do have information in various places – for example, for a personal project I’m working on, I have sites bookmarked in Delicious, files saved in folder on my computer, and handwritten notes in an actual file folder. Could I take all those and combine them in Evernote?

  5. Margaret Lukens on

    Janet, in a word – yes. One of Evernote’s nifty features is the ability to search for words in handwritten, scanned or photographed documents.

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