How we use Evernote to manage our business (and our lives)

I’ve been using Evernote for more than four years and it’s becoming more and and more valuable to me every day.  Evernote is a tool to store all of your digital notes in one place, synced and quickly searchable from any of your devices (phone, tablet, laptop, etc).

As my business has expanded and my life has become more complicated with two growing children (and related birthday parties, sports teams, ballet recitals, etc), Evernote has been an amazingly useful product.

Here’s a quick overview of how it works:

Having used it for so long, I’ve accumulated quite a variety of types of items I use it for.  They include:

People

  • While on the phone with clients, I take notes directly into Evernote for future reference.
  • Photos of business cards.  Every card I get goes into Evernote in case I need it later; only some are added to my main contact list in Gmail.

Events

  • Daily schedule for events, such as the schedule for the “Marietta Fourth of July in the park”, so I’d have it handy during the day.  I’ve done the same for WordCamp and other events.
  • Photos of birthday party invitations for our kids — you know you can never find them when the day comes, and you always want to verify the time and location (“12:30 at Chuck-E-Cheese, right?”).
  • Photos of wedding invitations.

Numbers and codes

  • Website FTP usernames/passwords
  • Bar codes and serial numbers from new products that we purchase.
  • Verification and service order numbers (“Our technician will be at your house on Friday between 2-5. Your confirmation # is 1234567”).
  • Photos of insurance cards.
  • Glasses prescription information.
  • License plate numbers.

Travel

  • Copies of airline/hotel confirmation emails.
  • Packing lists for trips.

Business

  • Upcoming blog post ideas.
  • Notes during a meeting/MeetUp.
  • Notes for upcoming presentations or training sessions that I need to prepare for.
  • Code snippets for various projects.

Other

  • Various measurements from around the house (window sizes, furnace filter sizes, etc), in case I need to look them up.
  • Keeping up with phone calls and information for an insurance claim (like when a tree fell on our cars).
  • Guitar chords for songs that I like to play from time to time.
  • Notes during the sermon at church (I use my tablet for my Bible already, so dropping notes in Evernote while he speaks is quite easy).
  • Notes from books that I’m reading.
  • Instruction sheets from toys that our girls get.  Full manuals go in our filing cabinet, but for single sheets I simply take a photo and throw away the paper.
  • Christmas gift ideas.
  • Notes about the kid’s soccer team I coach (parent contact info, schedule, etc)
The syncing is what makes it great.  I can take notes on my laptop during a meeting, then have the notes sitting on my desktop for me when I get home.  Or, I can make a list of things to buy at Home Depot while I’m at home, then have it available on my phone while I’m at the store.

Downsides

That said, it’s not all roses.  The sharing system they use is kind of odd, it’s not a great place to store lots of files (Dropbox or Google Drive is better for that) and syncing isn’t instant — it only does it every 30 minutes or so.

All that said, it’s an amazing product.  Common wisdom for getting things done is to get lists and “stuff” out of your brain so you can focus on the task at hand.  Use Evernote to store all of those lists and numbers, and use your energy to get work done.

It’s worth noting that Evernote has a paid version as well ($5/month).  Most of their features are fairly meaningless to the average user, but the “offline notebooks” for mobile is pretty sweet.  It chews up a lot of space on your phone, but it means that all of your notes are fully accessible even if you don’t have a signal (like in the depths of Home Depot).

You can download Evernote for free, for almost any kind of device, at evernote.com.

Do you use Evernote?  What other kinds of items do you keep in it?

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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Comments

  1. Great post. I would like to add that as far as full manuals, you can usually find them on the web and clip the link into Evernote if you wanted. And as far as sync, one can just hit the sync button and boom, done – instantly.

    I love the schedule idea. I often will scan things into Evernote and put school notes in a school notebook and sports schedules in a kids notebook. Having a notebook called Schedules or Invitations is brilliant.

    Learning to manage my business in Evernote has been fun too. I love having everything handy and sharing tasks and notes with people and clients.

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