After the release of Episode #002 of my Internet Marketing for Schools podcast in which I discuss Evernote with Bill Stites, Director of Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy, I received a number of messages and emails asking me about how I set-up Evernote and use it on a daily basis.
I’ve been using Evernote for years now and have recently changed how I organize information within Evernote. As a result, I believe that how you set-up Evernote is CRUCIAL to your long-term success with this amazing tool. In this post, I’m going to share six tips for getting started with Evernote which I think you will find helpful as you begin organizing your life and remembering everything.
If you haven’t done some already please sign-up for an Evernote Account: Click here.
1. Choice: Notebooks or Tags
In my opinion, the single biggest decision you will have to make when starting with Evernote is how you want to organize the information that you put into Evernote. There are two ways that you can organize Evernote: The Notebook Method or The Tag method.
I’ll explain both methods but before I start let me review how Evernote is structured. Evernote is organized using Notebooks, Notes, and Tags. To give you a visual think of a physical notebook in which you can put notes. Notes can only reside in one notebook.
Tags are created by you and can be associated with multiple notes. Notes can have multiple tags.
One final thing – Notebooks can be grouped into Stacked Notebooks to help you organize further.
Here is the hierarchy: Stacked Notebooks > Notebooks > Notes
Another way to think about it is that Stacked Notebooks are like File Cabinets. Notebooks are like File Folders. Notes are like pieces of paper.
A. The Notebook Method
In this method, you create a Notebook for each topic or general heading that you want to keep organized and place Notes appropriate to those topics into that Notebook.
For example: You create a Notebook called Blog Posts and create a Note for each blog post you write and keep it in your Blog Post Notebook.
This was the method I first used when I began with Evernote because it so closely mimicked the File Folder and File system that I was already familiar with. The issue for me however that while this configuration felt familiar it quickly cluttered the navigation pane in my Evernote account and when I would log into Evernote I became overwhelmed.
B. The Tag Method
In this method you would create fewer Notebooks and use Tags, as well as the power of Evernote search, to organize your life. I recently switched to this method and have been very happy with the results.
What I’ve done is to create Notebooks for each major aspect of my life, i.e., Sewickley Academy, SchneiderB, and Personal, and then I use tags which can span the different Notebooks. A few example tags I use are receipts, recipes, businesscard, ebook, and blog posts.
I now use Evernote’s search function to find what I need as opposed to digging through an extensive Notebook structure. Evernote search is extremely powerful and allows you to search in a number of different ways.
My recommendation is to use the Tag Method. However, if you would feel comfortable using the Notebook Method that will work as well. The most important thing is to simply get started with Evernote.
2. Create A Special Gmail Account
Probably the most common way that I get information into Evernote is through email and Evernote makes it very easy for you to do just that. The only issue I have with this feature is that the personal, private email that Evernote assigns to you is not easy to remember, but I have a solution that I recommend you do.
What I did is create a free Gmail account with an easy to remember name like firstname.lastname@example.org. I then set-up that Gmail account to forward to my Evernote email address. The result: an easy to remember email address that allows me to easily and quickly get information into Evernote.
3. Create An Inbox Notebook
Regardless of the method, you select: The Notebook Method or The Tag Method, one notebook I recommend that you create is one called Inbox. Once you create the Inbox Notebook change the setting in Evernote preferences to make the Inbox Notebook the default place where all new notes are placed. I have found that having one central place for all of your incoming notes allows you to use this notebook as a central repository for new notes so you can then tag and move them into the appropriate Notebook.
4. Create A Working Notebook
Once again, regardless of the method, you select I would recommend creating a Working Notebook. You can call this Notebook anything you want, but the idea is that you place all of the Notes you are currently working on in this Notebook, i.e., draft blog posts, podcast show notes, interview questions, and, our grocery list.
A note of caution: Do not keep too many notes in this Notebook. I suggest only keeping 4-6 notes and when you are finished working on the note/project move it into the appropriate Notebook, with corresponding tags, for long-term storage.
5. To Read
Another Notebook that I find invaluable is one I suggest you create called To Read. In this Notebook, I store names of books I want to read as well as blog posts and articles that I clip using the Evernote Web Clipper. I’ve found that this saves me a ton of time because I’m able to store all of the information I want to read from the web for another time when reading makes more sense.
6. Download and Use the Evernote iOS or Android App
I absolutely love the Evernote iOS App and suggest that you download it for your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. One of the true benefits of Evernote is that it is accessible ANYWHERE using this App. By having Evernote with me at all times:
- I can read items from my To Read Notebook
- I can take photos of things I need to remember
- I am increasingly taking voice notes of ideas or to-dos that I can then enter into my task management software Nozbe
Just Do It
As I have said time and time again, Evernote has changed my digital life for the better. I am able to store the information I want, be creative (I wrote this blog post in Evernote), and it has helped me to be better organized.
However, getting started with Evernote can be intimidating so I offer you this simple advice.
Just do it!
If you currently use Evernote what tip or trick can you share to help people just getting started with Evernote?
Also published on Medium.