Evernote Tricks for the Uninspired New Evernote User

(If you’re brand new to Evernote, you might want to see this, too.)

You’ve heard all the hype.

Your friends and colleagues—even Internet wonks like myself—will not shut up about what a fantastic service Evernote is and that you should totally be using it, Ed.

So, you heed the advice; you install Evernote on your phone, your computer and maybe even your tablet.

You make yourself a user account, login and then you sit in front of it for a few minutes and wonder, “so, what the hell do I do with this thing?”

You’re not alone. Lots of people install Evernote then stare at it for an hour wondering for what purpose, pray tell, should they actually use it.

It’s not unlike deciding that you’d like to write something (but you’re not sure what), sitting down at your computer and opening up your favorite writing application… and just staring at a blank screen.

Being the guy who wrote the book on Evernote, I’ve got a few ideas for how you can get started because, and I mean this sincerely, Evernote is fantastic solution for oodles of problems.

Think about the mission

No, not the De Niro flick from forever ago; I’m talking about the problem Evernote purports to solve.

“Remember Everything” is how the app is pitched; it’s apropos, I think.

So, with that in mind, think about the kinds of things you want to remember, but currently don’t. These can be things as benign as how much money you spent at the Apple store last month or things as meaningful as when your oldest kid lost his first tooth.

Look at common use cases

Here are a handful of applications that have become some of the canonical Evernote use cases:

  • Recipes: Create a new notebook called “Recipes” and go clip a few of your favorites from the web. Note: this is helpful if you actually cook anything, which I really don’t.
  • Bank Statements: Chances are, you have a stack of these (or some other kind of historical financial thingies) lying around that you’re keeping just in case you need them for some reason. Get yourself a document scanner (this is the one I use), scan them to PDFs and drop them into Evernote. Then kiss that unsightly stack of paper goodbye. Use it for kindling at your next cookout or something.
  • Stuff You Read and Liked: Clipping stuff from the web into Evernote is pretty damn simple no matter which browser you use. If you come across an article or blog post on the web that makes you all happy and whatnot, fire that thing into Evernote so you can read it again five years from now. Oh, and not to get all FUD on you, but web pages have a nasty habit of changing or outright disappearing as the years go by — this helps ensure that you’ll always have the original.
  • Project Notes/Resources: If, say, you’re in the process of building a new deck in your backyard or planning to launch a new website in the near future, slap all of your ideas, inspirations and other details into a notebook in Evernote. I’ve done this bunches of times and it’s still one of my favorite ways to use Evernote.
  • Meeting Notes: I take all of my meeting notes in Evernote (naturally). If you bring a laptop or tablet with you to meetings, take your notes in Evernote so a) you’ll never lose them and b) you can send them to Eric from Logistics whose dumb ass totally slept through the entire meeting. Review the notes later, making sure to handle any tasks that were assigned to you or important dates you need to put on the calendar.

I could go on, but these are just the basics. Other than the recipe thing, each of the above examples represents one way in which I use Evernote.

Share with others

My wife and I have a handful of shared notebooks that we can both access, but the one we use like crazy is the one with the shopping lists in it. Since she’s the one who cooks in our house (which is great becauss I suck at cooking and she’s really good at it), I get to do a good deal of the shopping. Instead of having to dictate a shopping list to me as we both meander around the kitchen, she just asks me to go to the grocery store and says “it’s in Evernote” as I walk out. If that sounds really awesome and convenient, that’s because it is.

I do a weekly podcast with a friend of mine and all of our plans, topics and such live in an Evernote notebook that we share. We brainstorm topics throughout the week and just stick them in the notebook whenever inspiration strikes. Then, when it comes time to record, we skim what we’ve added and see what we feel like talking about. The coolest part is we can both add stuff from any device we use (iPhones, mostly) instead of having to be sitting at our computers. Oh, and the notebook also has all of our logo files and such, in case we ever need them.

In Conclusion

The great thing about Evernote is that once you find a really cool way to use it that really helps you, you’ll almost immediately start finding other ways to use it. Before you know it, you’ll be like me (except with better hair, I hope). If you want to really get cracking with Evernote, pick up a copy of Evernote Essentials today; it’s like a warm chocolate chip cookie that you read instead of eat.