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Organize Your Digital Life 10 – Capture everything else in one place

This is the tenth in a series of posts in the Organize Your Digital Life series.

We’ve been at this for 10 days now, and you’ve got a problem; despite all of the tips on how to get things organized, you’ve still got a small pile of stuff to deal with — business cards, passwords, notes from meetings, etc.  What do you do with all of it?

Evernote is your answer.  Evernote’s goal is to become your “second brain”.  They want you to store everything in there, and they’ve got some slick tools to help.  Their software works on Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and they have a normal web version to handle everything else.

The way it works is simple.  You save some content in there, and it’s synced to their servers.  From there, it’s synced to all of your other devices, kind of like DropBox.  Here’s where it gets awesome, though — their servers equipped with HP printer drivers can read all of the stuff you upload, like names off of business cards, and words off of your notes.  All of that content is then easily searchable through any of their applications.

Some of what I upload to Evernote includes:

  • Business cards. I save vital contact information in my phone, but keep a copy of the card in Evernote in case I need it again.
  • Receipts. I’m considering moving to Outright instead, but Evernote does well enough for now and I really don’t have very many.
  • Online receipts. They have plug-ins for most browsers, so when I get a page that says “save this confirmation number for your records”, I just click the Evernote icon and it saves the page for me.
  • Manuals. If it’s a big manual, I just save the entire thing in my filing cabinet.  For single page instructions, like for a universal remote, I snap a picture of it, save it in Evernote, then throw the paper copy away.
  • Deposit receipts. When I make a deposit at the bank, I snap a copy of the receipt and save it.  In the event something goes wrong, I’ll have a copy handy.
  • Client notes. While on a phone call with a client, I take notes on paper.  When I’m done, I assign tasks into Nozbe as needed.  However, I’ll often have other “stuff” to remember; passwords, future ideas, etc.  I put those in Evernote so I can get to them in the future.
  • Party/wedding Invitations. I usually keep a copy in my filing cabinet, but I take a picture and put it in Evernote too.  You never know when you might need it.
  • Policy numbers. Insurance, etc.
  • VIN numbers for our cars. I tucked those in there too.
  • Photos of other things around the house. I took a copy of the paper roll in my labelmaker, print cartridges in my printer, etc.  When I’m out shopping and need to buy a replacement, I can look in there to see exactly what I need.
  • Code snippets. If I write a bit of code that I find myself always hunting to re-use on another site, I’ll toss it in Evernote so it’s easy to access later.

The list could go on and on.  Their iPhone/Android app makes it very easy to just take a photo and upload it, which means I use it a LOT.  The fact that it syncs to all of your computers means you can access your information from anywhere and it’s always backed up.

Here’s a cute video they’ve produced to show how it works:

Here’s a more serious video that shows a step-by-step process of how to use it:

If you have a similar solution that you like better than Evernote, I’d love to hear it.  Or, if you already use Evernote, what other kinds of stuff do you store in there?

This is the tenth in a series of posts in the Organize Your Digital Life series.

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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  1. For my purposes I find MS OneNote 2007 fantastic. I know you can’t share in the same way as it stays on your own computer but I love the way it’s organised. And if you’ve got MS Office you’ve probably got it even if you don’t know you have. I’ve seen it called ‘Microsoft’s Best Kept Secret’. i can see advantages of EverNote but it didn’t quite do it for me.

    Enjoyed this series by the way.


    • I’ve never used OneNote, but I’ve heard great things about it. I considered trying it out, but the lack of web-based access was a killer. Just today I had to hop on a friend’s laptop to grab something from Evernote — their web interface isn’t great, but it gets the job done.

      Keeping your notes on a single computer is fine most of the time, but make sure you’ve got a great (preferably off-site) backup for them in case your computer crashes. 🙂


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