Friday, September 16, 2011
The Greatest App In The World--Evernote
I have a confession to make. I love the application Evernote. I can't even begin to explain how much I love this app and how using it has greatly enhanced my day to day operations. I am more organized, timely, and I'm remembering things a lot better. I thought I'd write a blog (even though there are plenty out there) on what I use Evernote for and why you should start using it.
What is it?
Evernote is a web-based application used for storing information. Okay, that doesn't sound all that impressive, but what you need to understand is that it is the way Evernote organizes and stores your information that is impressive. Evernote wirelessly syncs your content via the web and allows you to access it from a number of different devices. I have Evernote on my work computer (a PC), my personal laptop (a mac) and on my smart phone (a droid). If I update something on any one of the devices it syncs auto-magically. Evernote also works on tablets, I-pads and I-pods.
Why it's awesome
Evernote helps you remember everything. It also is one of the easiest places to store information in an organized and accessible fashion. On your personal Evernote app, you organize your content based on notebooks, notes and tags. Notebooks are like file cabinet drawers, and the notes are the individual files. Tags are used to help you find information on a certain topic. When I search for, let's say a note I wrote about a ministry event, I simply type one word from the event and I can find the note in Evernote. This is incredible because I've organized every section of my life in Evernote and can access the information anywhere! I always have my phone on me, which means my notes, insights, and anything else I might need is right there. (Here is a screen shot of a typical Evernote account)
How I use Evernote
I thought I'd share some of the ways I use Evernote on a weekly and even daily basis. I hope this paints a picture as to why I love this app so much and why can't stop raving about it.
I do a lot of speaking, whether it's on Wednesday night for youth group, Sunday morning for a study, or an outside speaking engagement. Evernote now houses my sermon illustrations and also my notes for my messages. I go throughout my day looking for those "illustrations" that will add life to my sermons. Further, I simply like to remember what happens on a daily basis. So much of that is lost if I don't write it down. I have organized my Evernote with a section on References. I have a notebook that is full of illustrations. I organized the individual notes based on topics like Anger, Love, The Church, Community, etc. I then file my illustrations in the correct category. Next time I write a message that has something to do with one of the topics, I find that note and there are my illustrations.
Besides daily stories, I also have a section for quotes including passages in books that I've highlighted (this is especially neat if you have a Kindle since all of your notes and highlights are saved on the world wide web. Just copy and paste your highlights and notes from your Kindle page to your evernote. Bam. Done.)
Evernote also has a web clipper that you can install on your internet browser. This way, if you come across something you like while online be it an article, picture, story, etc., just clip the page and it saves in your Evernote. Again, it does this auto-magically. I have another notebook for online articles, quotes, illustration stories, and spiritual and leadership exercises. They are all stored in one place. Additionally, Evernote also stores pictures, pdf files, and voice notes. All of them are organized neatly and accessible wherever I have the internet or a 3G connection.
I also use Evernote for taking notes. I take notes in a Moleskin journal and then transfer every note to my Evernote. I still like writing with a pen and plus taking the time to transfer the notes every week gives me a chance to look over what has happened and also to find the appropriate category for the notes. I go through all my notes and find where they go, including notes from staff meetings, discipleship meetings, time with my mentors, etc. If they say it, I put it in Evernote. I've also done this with a number of great authors I've had a chance to listen to as well. I have notes from the Storyline Conference with Donald Miller, insights from Shane Claiborne, Dallas Willard and as of yesterday, Rachel Held Evans. I love that I have a place to store these insights and also a way to find them quickly.
I also use Evernote for my writing. All of my blog posts are stored on Evernote and other writing projets as well. If I have an idea for a new post or an insight I want to write about, it goes on Evernote and I can find it there later. Inspiration is never lost. I also find that with my note taking, I'm more diligent about deadlines and dates, and find myself remembering the important details more often now. This has been great for my personal and professional life.
Although I finished school before I started using Evernote, this is a great resource to use if you're a student. Just make a notebook for a particular class, and then start filing your notes, assignments and projects there.
I plan a lot of events, including camps, retreats and a myriad of other social get-togethers. I now use Evernote to help plan my events. I take notes on the events, plan out the itineraries, and all the important factors like cost, transporation, times and deadlines. If someone has a question about an upcoming event or camp, no longer do I have to search through my computer to find it. I just open the note on my phone. I'm also going to be experimenting with doing all of our camp registration with Evernote too, so I always have a list on me of who has paid and turned in their necessary forms. Parents ask me this all the time, and if I'm not at my computer, I wouldn't know everyone's exact details. With Evernote, I just show them my phone or laptop and all the information is there.
Evernote also keeps track of my important personal information, including receipts, important dates and confirmation numbers. I recently used Evernote to help my wife and I stayed organized during the purchase of a our new home. Every detail that our lender or realtor needed was put on Evernote. Since you can make lists with "check-off boxes" I made a list of all of the necessary paper work and documentation we needed. If something else was discovered in a meeting, I took out my phone and added it to the list. Then, I experienced the great joy of checking it off the list one by one. I also kept a copy of important files like our tax returns, bank statements, etc that we might need at any given time. Using Evernote in this process was incredible. No more bulky folders or lost post-it notes. Everything I needed was online and by my side whenever it was asked for.
My Hobbies and stuff I like
Finally, I use Evernote to take notes on my favorite hobbies. If there is a new song I want to learn on the guitar I put it in my music folder. If there is a movie that I want to see, or even a list of movies that I want to watch eventually, it goes in Evernote. I also created a folder for vacations--places we've been and places we want to go--that we can update every year. I also take notes about my favorite basketball athletes, sort of a rough draft for a fantasy league. And since I like lists I also have my "bucket list," my current reading list including books I want to read, and also notes on future schools where I want to continue my education. I've also included notes on our favorite restaurants, weekly grocery lists and more. The possibilities with Evernote are endless.
Basically, that sums up my Evernote obsession. I've even encouraged the students in our youth group to get Evernote on their phones and i-pods. This way, we can share notes on teaching topics, and if they take notes during a message or Bible study, they have them in a safe and accessible place.
If you're interested in learning how to use Evernote, I recommend you check out Michael Hyatt's blog. He first introduced me to Evernote at the beginning of the year and has written in great detail about it--michaelhyatt.com
There you go. Give Evernote a try. You won't be sorry. After all, it is the greatest app in the world.
Are there any other Evernote enthusiasts out there? What do you use the app for?