Did you think you'd be done with note taking when you were done with school? Depending on what type of job you have and what your responsibilities are at home, you may be taking more notes now than you did in high school history class!
How often have you jotted something down on a scrap of paper and by the time you needed to refer to what you had written, you'd lost it? Maybe you keep a small notebook with you at all times in case you need to make a note. How do you possibly find the just the right note when you need it? It may be time to consider a new way to store your notes so you don't lose them and can quickly find what you need when you need it!
In today's digital age, notes can be taken in many forms - handwritten, typed, or even as a voice recording. The best solution I have found to store and organize my notes is Evernote. This is a free app with upgrade options for a fee that allows you to take notes in different formats on different devices, store them in the cloud, and categorize them for easy access.
If you've never heard of Evernote or even if you have used the app for years, read on to learn some tips and tricks that will boost your productivity at work. In a later post, I'll share some ways Evernote can help you at home!
For those of you that have never used Evernote, it's a very simple, but powerful app available on mobile or desktop. After creating a free account, you can create notes. Each note is like a blank document where you can type text, insert photos, record audio, attach files, insert links, create tables, and even add sketches. One of the coolest features is the web clipper which can be installed in your browser. This allows you to easily save a screenshot, a portion of a webpage or an entire PDF document with a quick shortcut. It's easy to create bulleted or numbered lists and even insert check boxes. If you'd like to use a template, there are many free ones to search from. Need a reminder about a specific note? You can set one and get a notification on a certain date and time.
If you would like to group notes together, you can create notebooks, and for even more categorization, you can create stacks (which I like to think of as binders) where you can group notebooks together. To easily find notes, you can apply tags that are searchable. A note can have as many tags as you want. In addition to searching by tags, you can search all text in a note as well as text in any images. Because notes sync to multiple devices, you can always have your notes with you when you need them! If you want to collaborate with other Evernote users, you can share notes and participate in discussion about them.
All of these basic features, but if you want to upgrade your account and pay a subscription, other options are available such as the ability to create your own templates, the ability to send an email to a specific address to automatically create a note, store an even larger amount of notes each month, and have access to even better search options. Depending on your subscription level, you can sync notes across multiple devices. You can prepare for a meeting at your desk, and then take your tablet to the meeting.
Evernote at Work
Evernote is one of the first apps I open in the morning because I use it for planning my day, I created a note that includes a checklist for the day's "Must Do's" and another checklist of my "Would Be Nice To Do's." Below that I include a day's calendar broken down in 30 minute increments that I use to plan out my day.
First I fill in any appointments, and then I fill in the blanks with "Must Do's" and if there's any time left, I sprinkle in a few "Would Be Nice To Do's" I then keep a "Done List" of the things I actually accomplished for the day. I reference this note often throughout the day and add to my "Would Be Nice To Do's" as I think of them and record what I actually did on my "Done" list. This helps me visually see what I've accomplished for the day while also helping me to better understand how long tasks actually take so I can better plan in the future.
Since I use the free version of Evernote, I can't save an actual template, but I keep a blank note and just duplicate it every day. If you are interested in creating your own templates, you may want to consider the Premium plan.
I use Evernote to take notes during meetings if it's appropriate to type. Even if I take handwritten notes, I can snap a photo of them and insert as a note. Since Evernote can search text in images, even my handwritten notes are searchable!
Tags are a great way to easily filter notes so you can see all notes about a specific topic at once. I suggest creating a few categories of tags like dates, people, meeting types, subjects. To make it easy on yourself, consider a prefix for each category so you don't get confused. Here's a few examples:
Using check boxes for to do's that come up during a meeting are a great way to make sure you don't forget to do the tasks assigned to you. In Evernote you can create saved searches, and the most powerful of these searches is the one I set up for "unchecked to do's." I can quickly click on this and see every note that has an unchecked check box. Then I can either do the task if it takes less than 2 minutes and check it off, or, if it will take longer, I can add it to my master task list.
I also like to indicate when others have a to do. You could do this by inserting a certain character, emoji or colored text to indicate whose task it is. This is especially helpful when you share your notes with those who were assigned tasks during the meeting.
I created a meeting template for myself that I duplicate for use for meeting notes. If you'd rather use a template that's already created, check out all the free template options.
Other Ways to Use Evernote at Work
I can't wait to share how I use Evernote at home. Stay tuned for those useful tips next time!
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!