How to use Evernote effectively

Evernote is a very powerful program available on the web, on your desktop and on your mobiles (phone, tablet).

There is a free version, a premium version (more functions and storage for the individual) and a business version allowing team collaboration.

You can clip items from the web, upload documents or images or write notes or todo lists. Evernote syncs across all platforms so are available online or offline, at your desk or in your pocket.

Evernote has extensions for most browsers to enable you to clip notes directly and you can send an email (or use bcc) including tags to record key communications. You can scan notes (with optical character reading) or pictures.

I started off using notebooks [collections of notes] and Stacks [collections of notebooks], however, with the power of Evernote’s search function, I found using tags is much more effective.

I suggest you use only one or a few notebooks – I now have an Inbox to store new notes and once processed move them to one Notebook and rely on tags to organise my notes.

It is tempting to put multiple tags on each note – but Evernote indexes every word in every note, so the search function is very powerful. Less is more! By having a shortlist of tags means you can remember the tag or at least the start, and then search for the specifics.

If you are just getting started with Evernote, I suggest you fast track your setup and buy Brett Kelly’s remarkably practical e-book, Evernote Essentials – a 160-page ebook, now in its 4th edition.

You can also have shared Notebooks with others.

Tags can be stacked – I use a period (.what) and a caret (^tools) to begin the higher-order tags – as they come at the start of the listing. When you start a new note or clipping then the shortlist of tags under a period, caret etc, comes up to select from. You can use a period (.), exclamation (!), at (@), number (#), dollar ($), per cent (%), caret (^) etc – these all list at the beginning of the tags.

Under the [.what] tag I list the main areas of my work/business life. The [.who] provides a listing of scanned business cards or team members. You can also have an [.when] if you want notes for current and future events.

It is also useful to set up templates – and copy them for later use as needed.

This should give you some ideas about how you can set up your system. By spending some time to design your system can result in a very efficient digital reference library.

By setting up a system that is unique to your requirements means you can be much more effective and it also reduces the brain chatter because you have downloaded the and catalogued notes which can be readily retrieved.

» Let me know if you have any other interesting hacks in using Evernote.

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