I agree with Sam,
“Evernote is one of the most awesome bits of software ever made.”
And we’re not the only ones. According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Rob Walker, as of Feb. 2013, “Evernote says it has 50 million users around the world (a third in the U.S.) and is adding 100,000 a day.”
However, because there are so many ways to use it, some folks get overwhelmed as to how to even get started. So, here are some basic tips, resources and a brief review.
If you’ve never heard of Evernote, I recommend you head over to Getting Started with Evernote. They cover stuff like installation, account creation, creating notes and setting reminders.
It’s a great place to become familiar with Evernote’s basic functionality, but it’s not as helpful in terms demonstrating the real power of Evernote for productivity, collaboration and workflow.
The Web Clipper
If you have a voracious appetite for online content, you have probably encountered the issue of “saving stuff for later.” The web doesn’t present information to you at your earliest convenience, organized in a way that is likely to make the most sense to you.
This is one of the areas in which Evernote excels.
Before you go nuts clipping everything you find online, you should spend some time thinking about how you might want to organize your notebooks and tags. If you’re just using Evernote as an unorganized dumping ground, you’re really missing out on a lot of the features that make it so special (see Evernote + GTD below).
In a nutshell, Skitch allows you to easily “mark up” web content you find and send it to Evernote.
The basic Skitch commands allow you to:
- Draw arrows
- Annotate with text
- Box and circle
- Highlight with: ‘X’, ‘!’, ‘?’, ‘?’, and ‘♡’
- Pixelate, redact or blur
- Crop & resize
- Change colors
You can also use skitch to take screen shots, share content on social networks and, of course, save to Evernote. Skitch is now available for Windows, Android, Mac & iOS.
To me, Evernote is one of the most effective tools for implementing Getting Things Done (GTD). Unfortunately, Evernote isn’t GTD-ready out-of-the-box. And it might not be completely intuitive to you how to configure Evernote for GTD. Fortunately, there are a couple really helpful posts on the subject:
GTD isn’t a rigid system and you shouldn’t feel compelled to configure Evernote exactly as the authors have above. Personally, I borrowed most of my configuration from Ruud Hein’s how-to.
If you think you might want to configure Evernote for GTD, my advice is to first get comfortable with each independently. That way, one it comes time to implementing GTD in Evernote, you’ll have a good understanding of what you really need and how you work.
It’s also worth mentioning that neither GTD nor Evernote are magic productivity bullets. They take a little work to learn, but more importantly, they require forming habits. Which takes time, practice and persistence.
Evernote Product Updates
If you have checked out Evernote in the past and found that it just wasn’t quite there yet, you should check out some of their most recent product updates, especially if you’re an iOS user.
Evernote Premium? Business?
Evernote is free for individuals. However, they also offer paid premium and “for Business” versions.
The premium version adds offline notebooks, passcode lock, increased storage and better search.
Evernote Business is $10.00/user/month. With the business version, users get all the premium features, plus:
- User & Data Management – to invite, view and manage other users within a business.
- Business Library – to collect and share information across your business.
- Better Support – self-explanatory.
I’ve include some of the more obvious Evernote resources below. If you’ve found or penned a helpful resource, please don’t hesitate to include below.
The Evernote Knowledge Base
The LAB’s Evernote thread
Evernote for Lawyers Posts
- Ben Carter’s Evernote gives lawyers a valuable archive for their legal research
- Evernote for Lawyers by Jay Milbrandt
- The Mac Lawyer’s Top Effective Uses of Evernote by Attorneys
- How To Use Evernote For Depositions by Matthew Hickey
Attorney Andrew Nettleman lists Evernote as an app he lives in:
I use Evernote every day and more than any other app I own. The basic version of Evernote is free. Evernote is a conglomeration of a word processor, a checklist app, a photo album, a web clipper and a voice memo app. I write posts for my firm’s blog in Evernote. I wrote this article in Evernote across three days and four counties on my PC, my iPad and my phone. I save web pages and online reference materials with the web clipper. I draft almost every document I create from scratch in Evernote, and I often paste documents into the word processor to use as a template to rework for different clients. The killer feature of Evernote in my estimation is that it automatically syncs to all your connected devices in near real time.
Evernote for Lawyers Guides
- Rocket Matter’s Free E-Book: Evernote For Lawyers (Free, a good quick overview with some tips)
- Daniel Gold’s Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Getting Things Done ($5 at posting, I haven’t read, have you?)
- David M. Ward’s Evernote for Lawyers ($17 at posting, I haven’t read, have you? Here’s one review.)
My Review of Evernote
If my opinion of Evernote is not already obnoxiously apparent, let me put it this way:
Evernote can fundamentally change the way you consume and store web content, organize your workflow and even manage your practice.
It’s one of those tools that is capable of doing a lot of different things really well, but at the same time, stays out of the way of actually doing stuff.
It provides for one of the best cross-device user experiences, period.
Like everything else online, Evernote is not immune to hacks and security issues.
Before deciding whether or how you might use Evernote at your firm, get familiar with their legal info.
Are you using Evernote? If so, how? If not, why not?
I’m especially interested in hearing from folks who are using Evernote in the context of GTD.
Reviewed by Gyi Tsakalakis on Aug 26.
Summary: Probably the most important software I use on a daily basis.
Description: Evernote makes finding, storing and organizing “stuff” simple and efficient. It’s truly remarkable.
Read the next post in this series: "Evernote Archaeology."