Using Evernote to Simplify Your Life

Evernote has always been one of my favorite apps. I first downloaded it sometime at the end of high school, when I still had a Palm OS phone. I was amazed to see that they had made a compatible version for my phone, since everyone at the time was narrowing their focus onto Android and iOS. Honestly, though, it was a very wise move for Evernote, who was able to produce superb UIs for every iteration of its product.

Lately, I’d been toying with the idea of moving towards a paperless life. As someone who admittedly uses an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook on a regular basis, I am much more likely to stay organized if any information I need is stored in the cloud. Not to mention, I have a horrible habit of accumulating useless pieces of paper, such as receipts, post-its, and envelopes during my day to day life.

To do this, I decided that I needed to revamp my Evernote workflow by reorganizing it. To my horror, I realized that I had over 300 notes, many of which were now useless or irrelevant.

The First Step: Review and Declutter

Since it had been a while since I had reviewed all my notes, I began by going through each one and deciding whether to delete it or keep it. After doing this for about 15 minutes, I started to recognize patterns on the kinds of notes that I tend to want to hold onto. For me, though it may probably be different for you, some of my most often clipped items were articles I wanted to reread, things I wanted to buy/listen to/read, personal documents, career articles and resources, and bits and pieces of my writing.

Second Step: Evaluating Notebook Categories

With each major category, I created a new notebook. By the end of the process, I had the following:

  • Career Reference
  • Apps to Download
  • Books to Read
  • Movies to Watch
  • Music to Listen to
  • Recipes
  • Things to Buy (Shopping)
  • Apartment
  • Financial
  • Health
  • Inspiration
  • Self Improvement
  • Blog
  • Writing

In total, 14 notebooks.

Third Step: Mastering the Stack

14, of course, was far too many to allow myself to easily view all notebooks at once. So, next I tried to see what these notebooks had in common. I came up with 4 major categories:

  • Personal Life
  • Career
  • Writing
  • Entertainment

I then made these each the titles of my Stacked Notebooks. By organizing my Evernote into 4 major areas of my life, I now know exactly where each new note that I clip belongs.

Items such as bills, lease agreements, self-help articles, for example, would go into my Personal Life stacked folder.

Within my Career stack are business cards, resumes, tips on job searching, and other resources.

I store anything that I wish to try out for fun, apps, books, movies, clothes, etc… in the Entertainment stack.

Finally, I place my own writing, whether it be for my blog, my (eventual) novel, or other bits of my creativity into the Writing Stack.

The Final Step:

My final step was to sort all of the misplaced notes into their correct categories and add tags as I saw fit. Tags are something that I think will evolve for me as I learn more about what does and does not work for me.

Conclusion: How Do You Evernote?

Evernote is certainly a powerful tool. With many affiliated apps by other developers and the ability to store almost anything, Evernote is one of the most essential apps. How do you use Evernote? What apps and add-ons do you like to use in conjunction with Evernote? Let me know in the comments or by tweeting me at @cohalls.