Organization is not my forte… in fact, it has always been one of my greatest challenges. One of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year was to find and implement tools to help me improve my work flow and overcome some of my organizational shortcomings. I’ve been trying several things, but Evernote is a product that clearly stands above the rest.
Their elevator pitch will give you a general idea of what the product does, but once you start playing with it, I think you will agree that its applications are vast.
I’ve found Evernote Premium service has been useful to me in the three arenas where I do my work:
- In The Office – Where my desk was once cluttered, Evernote has helped me to completely clear my workspace of unnecessary paper thanks to the seamless integration with my scanner. Staying on task with various projects is now simple; I create a notebook at the start of each project and store all emails, files and web clippings that are relevant. All of these files are easily accessed on my work or home computers or can be quickly reviewed on my iPhone.
- On The Road – Getting access to the web is not always an option when on my laptop as I am yet to make an investment in a wireless card. Evernote has helped save me that expense; I can easily access vital files via their web version or through my iPhone. It is also a great tool for remembering restaurants in the various towns you visit. Notes taken on the iPhone or other location-aware smartphones are stored along with the text, image or audio, so it is easy to find the places that you’ve visited in the past. It is also great for managing business cards at trade shows. I take a picture with my iPhone or point and shoot and throw the card away. The text on the cards becomes searchable minutes after it is uploaded to Evernote’s servers.
- At Home – Oftentimes when browsing at home I will stumble upon something that I want to remember that relates to a project I am currently working on. Evernote makes it easy to capture pictures, text or the entire page from any website you visit. The notes also store the link back to the webpage, so I never need to worry about where I find content anymore. This is a great way to make my free time more productive.
The company is now a year old and boasts over 1 millions users. This success is well deserved as Evernote has proven to be the most robust, yet easy-to-use system I’ve incorporated into my work flow. They are adding new features and integrations on a regular basis, so I hope to continue using their program for a wider range of tasks as they continue to grow.
All the gushing aside, there are a few shortcomings that I hope they resolve in the near future:
- RSS Integration – It would be incredibly useful to be able to pull my Google Reader Shared Stories RSS feed or feeds from competitors’ websites directly into Evernote. I currently have to find files and remember to clip them into the program. While this is not a large problem when working from home, I often miss the stories I read on my iPhone throughout the day.
- More Robust Business Card Management – As I mentioned above, I store all of the business card I collect in Evernote. It would amazing if I could extract this information into Outlook without having to manually retype everything.
- To-Do Integration – While they offer some basic tools to help work around this, Evernote lacks a full featured To-Do functionality. I’ve read several work arounds from users, but I am seeking something that is far more refined. Many of the things I store in Evernote related directly to tasks I am working on and need to talk to my Outlook Tasks and iPhone before I can consider Evernote my productivity solution.
Regardless of these outstanding issues (which I am willing to bet will be resolved in future updates), I have to give Evernote its due. For only $5 a month, they have managed to help me organize my life and have truly kept to their promise to act as my external brain! They offer a great product and I hope you get as much out of it as I have.