Lend A Scattered Mind A Hand With Evernote – My Review

I recently wrote a post titled You Are What You Do detailing some of the things I’ve been getting into lately and how that has changed the way I think and see myself.

Whenever you get into something that you’re interested in and you start to think about it often, you’ll notice an increase in ideas concerning that topic. When I say increase, I mean, flood. Be it Personal Finance, Pianoing or whatever else I think about, when I get into it, the floodgates just open up and my mind is filled with questions, thoughts, curiosities and ideas on what I can personally bring to the specific topic.

I remember when I first started writing Personal Finance, I was just overwhelmed by all the questions I had, I had to find some way to record them all and get them out of my head so they weren’t forgotten with the next wave of thoughts and ideas.

I tried the old note to self audio recorder way of doing things like you see in old movies. Boy,  that didn’t work. I found that recording audio notes was quick and not a bad way to do things, but when it came time to listening to them, I never had the time or was in the wrong place to do so. It took way too much effort to schedule out a block of time where I could be in silence and transcribe all those messages, especially when I would record a dozen or two a day. After a week, I had 50 audio notes that to this day haven’t been transcribed.

Then I thought I’d simplify things by using a notepad and pencil. That worked out great! Except I had the same problem.  I needed these ideas to be digital so I could use them in one way or another and copying notes from the notepad onto the computer took too much time. Plus I don’t write as fast as I type, I have kids that like to scribble, and I’m kind of messy sometimes. I’d often find my notes  unreadable after I spilled something on them or my kids got to them.

Then I found Evernote, specifically Evernote for Android. The beauty of Evernote, and something I didn’t realize when I signed up for the service a year prior to actually using it, is that it is on every platform. I mean every single one! (ok, exaggerated, but every modern platform) It’s got an app for the PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry,Windows Mobile and Palm devices. It’s got toolbars for browsers too, so you don’t even have to install an app or open Evernote’s site.

Evernote is a simple note taking system that allows you to take audio, picture, or text notes and all these notes are stored in Evernote’s servers, accessible from anything with an internet connection. Notes are searchable, and organizable.

The web interface for Evernote is sleek and easy to use, yet robust enough that you can log in and take a peek at all your notes at once without having to go through them one by one. Notes are shown in a thumbnail view so you can read most of what’s there, and then you can click to enlarge the note and edit it.

Within Evernote, you can create folders to organize your notes. When you search, searches circumvent folders and any note will be returned, but if you want to sort and browse your notes, it’s easy.

Once I found Evernote, my note taking dilemma was solved. I won’t tell you how many notes I have but I’ll say that if I have a thought that seems like anything more than a silly whim, heck even silly whims go right into Evernote on my Android phone in case I want to use them for something later on.

One more features of Evernote that you may not know about is that when you take a picture of something and upload it to Evernote, whether it’s a picture of a web page, your phone book, a note you previously took on paper or a letter from a friend, Evernote makes that picture searchable. If you search for any text within that image, it will return that image!

Evernote has free and premium options but I find the free option to be just fine for me. I don’t upload big note and have never gone over my monthly limit, which a premium account lets you bypass. Premium accounts also get faster image processing, PDFs are made searchable and note versioning but I’ve never needed any of that stuff.

If you’ve ever found yourself in search of a way to record your thoughts, give Evernote a try, it’s been an amazing help to my sanity this past year.

Do you use Evernote? If not, how do you organize your thoughts?

Image by The Thinking Doll

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6 People have left comments on this post

» My Money MessNo Gravatar said: { Feb 9, 2011 - 08:02:51 }

Might need to tell my wife about Evernote. She writes notes constantly and about everything. Mostly on paper. Evernote might be interesting to her.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

It’s a great system, save a few trees and try it out 🙂 plus the notes shes already written can be scanned and archived in case they were important. I’d be lost without Evernote at this point.

» Ron ToledoNo Gravatar said: { Feb 16, 2011 - 01:02:20 }

Hello this is Ron from Evernote. This is a really great writeup, we really appreciate you sharing the ways you use Evernote with your readers. Thanks again for all your support, I’m glad that it is working out so well for you. Let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hey Ron, thanks for dropping by! I find the system amazingly powerful, for how simple the concept is. I’ve got another use for Evernote going up tomorrow and if I think of anything else, I’ll shoot my feedback your way.

» mike012003No Gravatar said: { Feb 23, 2011 - 02:02:42 }

I recently started using Evernote and its “free” storage space is severely limited. I have over 4000 pics on my iphone and have used only half the iphone capacity. I uploaded 166 pics from the iphone to Evernote, used 99% of Evernote upload capacity and recieved a warning notice that Evernote utilization would be restricted until the next cycle. From a practical standpoint Evernotes data restriction allows only 2% utilization of my iphones capacity per month. With this strict data limitation, it is more functional to use my iphone, ipad, and laptops and “Forget Evernote”.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Ah, that is a problem. I use Evernote for notes mostly, text, and haven’t done much with pictures. I tend to think of Evernote more of an indexable notebook than an online photo album. Any pictures I have taken were of notes and I just needed them for the index/OCR ability of Evernote, versus quality so they were small pictures.

But let me ask you this, do you take 4000 pictures a month or closer to 166? And are those pictures important enough for you to either pay for premium Evernote service ($5 a month or $45 a year) ?

Because if the power of Evernote’s index, OCR and search is what you’re looking for, then maybe upgrade to premium for a month, get all your pictures into Evernote, then don’t renew your premium upgrade the next month? And after that, if your pictures are closer to 166 a month, you should be ok as far as the monthly transfer limit, as you would just be adding the new images and not transferring all images on your phone over again.

If you want more of an online backup system, check out SugarSync.com or DropBox.com which both have options for file monitoring, mobile apps and multiple OS support.

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