How to Use Evernote to Maximize Productivity in All Areas of Your Life

Evernote is your notebook in the cloud. At its most basic, Evernote allows you to create notes on any PC or mobile device, and then access them via desktop application, web browser or mobile app from any other connected device. Evernote stores your notes in the cloud for cross-platform access from anywhere on any device, but it can also sync up with your desktop PC for offline access.

That, however, is just the beginning. The Evernote slogan is “Remember Everything” – a lofty ambition, but one that the Evernote team is doing well to live up to.

Evernote is a great way to store and organize your thoughts and ideas, but it can also be a bookmark utility, document repository, file sharing service and much more. Use the web clipper plug-in for your favorite browser to easily save all those web sites you want to revisit or keep on file. You can also clip bits of text (including entire articles) and  images from web sites, making it easy to refer to them later without scrolling and clicking through web pages to find the relevant information.

Evernote is one of the most useful web services/applications I have come across in a long time, and I’ve been hooked from the day I started using it.

Getting started is simple. Go to Evernote.com on your PC, create an account and download the desktop app. Then download the Evernote app for Android or iOS to your mobile phone(s) and/or tablet(s). You can download the app first and create an account from there, but I prefer to do the account setup on a PC. Plus, you’ll want to have the PC application installed on your primary desktop or laptop computer – I find that to be the easiest way to organize and browse through my notes.

If you use Chrome , Firefox or Safari browsers on any PCs, you will want to install the Web Clipper extension from http://www.evernote.com/evernote/.

This handy little tool is practically indispensable for Evernote users. With the web clipper, you can bookmark URLs, copy text from web pages, or store entire articles and media content to your Evernote notebooks, with just a click right inside your browser.  This is how I create most of my notes in Evernote.

On a mobile device,  you don’t need a web clipper extension. Just install the mobile app and you can easily send content to your Evernote notebooks . For example, on an Android phone or tablet, you can create a new note using the “Share” menu option when viewing photos, videos, web pages and other items.

Of course, notes don’t have to come from web content. Got a great idea? Fire up the Evernote desktop or mobile apps, or just log-in to your Evernote account from a web browser. You can create a new note with any content you like. Notes can be tagged with a number of keywords and also filed into custom folders or notebooks you have created.  A note can only live in one folder but can have multiple tags.

For example, my Evernote account has a number of folders including Writing, Work, Life, Art, Cloud Computing, Recipes, Swipe File and To Do. Notebooks are private by default but you can make them publicly visible, or share with selected individuals.

Evernote is a free service and does not limit the number of notes you can store. The catch is that you are limited to a monthly usage of 1 GB worth of uploads. Of course, that equates to hundreds or even thousands of text notes. If you are savings lot of multimedia content in your Evernote account, you may easily meet the limit – but even during months of heavy usage, I rarely come anywhere close to exceeding the quota. Rather than “clip” a photo or video to my Evernote notebook, I’ll just save the link.

Depending on your usage applications, it might make more sense to save media content directly to Evernote – in which case, you may upgrade at a cost of $5 per GB per month. Please note that this is only a quota of how much you can upload in a given month – you are not limited in how much data you can keep in your Evernote notebooks.  So, if you upgrade to 2 GB for a month and end up saving 2 GB worth of content during that month, you can revert back to a free 1 GB account the following month without losing what is already stored in your Evernote account.

Sure, you can save your bookmarks using other online tools, and you can store your notes in Google Docs or other cloud-based services, but what makes Evernote really great is the seamless integration across multiple platforms, within the browser, and within other apps and services. Evernote makes it incredibly simple to save and categorize information, all in one place, for easy access from anywhere.

Just how does that make you more productive? Let’s take a look at a few examples:

* Bookmark your favorite recipes in Evernote. You can tag them with cuisine type, main ingredients, time to prepare, etc. Edit and annotate notes to keep track of what you’ve tried, what worked, what didn’t, or how you altered the recipe to fit your tastes. Easily search your Recipe notebook to find just the dish you are looking for.

* Writing a novel? Create different notebooks for character sketches, plot outlines, reference material and other important information. Clip photos of people or places that inspire you. Clip URLs of research documents that you want to refer to for supporting data. Tag your notes appropriately based on characters, scenes, settings, plot points, or anything else that helps you keep organized.

* Create photo notes from your travel receipts to expedite expense reporting. It is much easier than trying to keep track of the hard copies, you can easily print them out as needed, and you can keep them archived for as long as you need.

* Educators are using Evernote in the classroom to help students organize data when doing research on the web. In fact, Evernote has a site dedicated just to educational use: http://www.evernote.com/about/schools/

* Since your Evernote notebooks are available from any device,  Evernote makes a great way to share content between devices. Save an article on your PC then read it later on your phone. Upload a photo from your phone then view it on your tablet. The possibilities are virtually endless.

* Create your shopping or to-do lists. Evernote includes options for creating checkbox lists so you can tick off items as you complete them.

* Forward documents to your Evernote account so you can have access to them anywhere, without having to dig through your email accounts. When you sign up for Evernote, you receive an e-mail address you can use for this purpose – anything sent to your Evernote e-mail goes straight to your notebooks.

* Bloggers save story ideas and inspiring articles in their Evernote notebooks. With the web clipper extension and mobile apps, it is easy to clip URLs and add your own thoughts. When it is time to write a new post, your inspiration is ready and waiting in your notebook.

* Visit the Evernote “trunk” (http://www.evernote.com/about/trunk/) to find applications that integrate with Evernote – document scanners, business card organizers, calendars, news readers and more.

Also, you may want to check out the other products from Evernote, designed to work hand-in-hand with your Evernote notebooks. Skitch is a drawing and photo editor app for Android and iOS that includes shapes, sketching, annotation, plus sharing features and Evernote integration. Other apps include Peek to help you study, Hello to help remember people and contacts, and Food to archive your favorite dining experiences. The Evernote Clearly browser plug-in renders web sites and blog pages in a clean, distraction-free, easy to read format.

There are so many ways you can use Evernote, it would take multiple articles to explore them all in detail. For now, this should give you a good overview. If you don’t have an Evernote account, get one today. And if you do, maybe its time to take a closer look at how you can further maximize your productivity with this online tool.



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