I’ve had a life-long love affair with notes. Notes on scrap paper, sticky notes, digital notes. Index cards for five page essays in Junior High morphed into Post-It notes (both digital and paper) in college. And both have been largely subsumed under my new favorite application Evernote (http://evernote.com/evernote). Evernote is a “suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving.” (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evernote). I consider it more of a lifestyle application.
When I discovered Evernote several years ago, I thought it was nothing more than a slick web-scale version of desktop sticky notes. When I would remember to use it, it was a dumping ground for saved recipes, household inventory lists, and other partially static documentation. Thanks to productivity consultant David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology I adapted and reorganized my Evernote account to function as a to-do list, offering a fluctuating selection of key notes that I updated on a regular basis. It’s largely taken over as my day planner, errand and grocery list, and event organizer.*
When I started my new job in March, I was determined to avoid recreating the Post-It note brigade that dangled like so much tinsel from my last set of cubicle shelves. So I sat down with Evernote and created a note uncreatively title “Invoice Payment Master list and pinned it to the bookmark bar. It’s an evolving document that includes text and links to other notes that detail procedures for tasks like:
-paying the institutional credit card
-ftp’ing orders to vendors
-finding vendor codes
-downloading MARC records from Connexion
Evernote has also become my easily searchable storage option for internal documentation like how-to instructions and project management notes. I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 to upload older paper documentation so I can find things quickly and keep less paperwork at my desk. If you upgrade to Evernote Premium, you can even search text within PDFs as well as enjoy quicker image recognition.
After reading about how school librarian rock star Buffy Hamilton was using Evernote professionally, my most recent experiment is finding a way to use Evernote in my collection development work. I work in a very small library at a private university that doesn’t really have a need for Evernote’s excellent sharing capabilities, but you have the ability to create a public notebook devoted to collection development material that you can share with colleagues, so everyone can get a look at advertisements or renewals before the meeting happens (saving time in passing out stuff at the meeting and having to wait for people to review them).
What I have been able to do is use Evernote to help with my own pre-collection development meeting prep. Pertinent blog posts and emailed advertisements get e-mailed to my account for easy round-up and printing. This prevents my ever-growing list of both from rotting in a pile of unread posts or my endless, singularly lumped emails under a collection development tag in Gmail. I also have a note solely devoted to electronic resource access and electronic claiming information, all protected under encrypted text (a great security feature).
As for professional development, I use the Evernote Clearly add-on for distraction-free reading in-browser (http://evernote.com/clearly/). Articles that I can’t finish or that I’d like to save get saved into my Evernote Account under a ready tag labeled “Read/Review'”.
Away from my desk, I used Evernote for my first professional conference this year! Not only was I able to scan in handouts from sessions when I returned home, but I used Evernote to create a preliminary conference report. If I’m able to purchase a tablet next year, I look forward to being able to have a digital conference schedule and create and edit my report in real-time during sessions as well as during post-conference reflection. Not only did I use it for actual conference proceedings, but I emailed all my travel documentation to Evernote so I could group my entire experience under an easy to find tag. You can also save everything interesting by snapping a photo, recording an audio note, and saving it; take a picture of your dinner with far-flung colleagues or save a snippet of of an Unconference session for future reference.
Every day people are using Evernote to run their businesses, go paperless, and organize their homes. I’ve only captured a small slice of what Evernote can do — there are plenty more features and cool premium account options (like note history that tracks changes to your notes!). New improvements are occurring every day in the Evernote Trunk that offers productivity and lifestyle apps (http://trunk.evernote.com/). Go explore!
Hamilton, Buffy. “Evernote for Libraries and Librarians 2011-12 .” Evernote for Libraries and Librarians 2011-12. N.p., 20 Sept. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://theunquietlibrary.libguides.com/evernotefall2011>.
Hamilton, Buffy. “Evernote for Libraries and Librarians.” Evernote for Libraries and Librarians. N.p., June 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://buffyhamilton-lyrasis.wikispaces.com/Evernote for Libraries and Librarians>.
Hyatt, Michael. “Is Your Data Safe in Evernote?” Michael Hyatt: Intentional Leadership. N.p., 2 June 2011. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://michaelhyatt.com/is-your-data-safe-in-evernote.html>.
Murray, Katherine. My Evernote. Indianapolis, IN: Que, 2012. Web.
* Tips for integrating David Allen’s “GTD” methodology with Evernote are all over the internet. I hesitate to recommend any particular post because everyone’s set up will be slightly different. Try Google for further information on how to organize your Evernote for maximum efficiency.