Evernote is fantastic

I was very skeptical when I first learned about Evernote, a service whose mission is to help you “remember everything”.

  • This seemed like another Web 2.0 company so focused on Free that they wouldn’t last. 
  • Their product sounded hoaky – a glorified notepad for (initially) iPhone.  I already had alternatives to that: emails that I send to myself or leave in draft form, Google Docs, and Word + Dropbox.
  • I like taking notes in a notebook – when you need to scribble something down or draw something, nothing is faster. Granted, the ability to search your notes is nonexistent, but I have my own rudimentary method of organization honed during my time as a consultant at Bain.

After a coworker showed me how he uses Evernote to take notes during meetings, and all the interesting features that go with it, I thought I would dip my toe in (while keeping my paper notebook close at hand for safety).

Now, 45 days and 74 notes later, I can safely say that this service is fantastic.

  • I use Evernote on whatever device I’m closest to.  This is the Number One selling point to me: whether I have my phone, laptop or tablet(s) with me, I have all of my notes in one location.
  • I organize notes into (currently) 11 different Notebooks, which are similar to GMail’s labels, loose associations of individual notes.  I have differente Notebooks for each of our customers at Mediafly, another for Prospect meetings, and a couple for other functional areas (Product, Marketing, Engineering, etc.).  I also have a few Notebooks for personal areas.
  • Oftentimes, as a part of product management, engineering, or marketing, we will have long whiteboard sessions. These will often result in a series of block diagrams, sketches, and notes on the whiteboard.  In the past, I would have to manually transcribe these into the notebook. Now, I simply take a photo with my phone or tablet and drop it into a Note in the correct Notebook, and I’m set.
  • Finally, Evernote has gotten me to write more.  In the past I struggled with where to jot down interesting stories about daily life. Do I send an email to myself?  I would never find it again. Do I create a Google or Word doc?  Those are still too cumbersome. With Evernote, I simply create a new Note in my personal Stories Notebook and jot it down.  A recent entry:

Biking to work today, I pull up to Milwaukee and Grand. While stopped, another biker pulls up next to me.
“Hey, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” I reply.
“Where can I buy some cheese?”
“Uhh…. there is a Jewel right up there…. what an odd question.”
“Well, I need to buy cheese for lunch.”

If you are on the fence, give it a try. It’s free to start and easy to shut down if you decide that it isn’t right for you.

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