Streamlining My Life with Evernote
Purchasing a premium subscription to Evernote for $45 was probably one of the best decisions I made in 2014. I had dabbled with the free version for a bit to ensure that I liked the app, but when I unleashed the storage possibilities with a premium account, I found digital organization heaven!
Evernote is my go-to app for my digital organization! I just create a new notebook and details are stored in as many notes as I want to create within that notebook. Mostly, I create notes with the app on my iPad. I find typing on the iPad particularly easy and portable. I tend to use the app on my iPhone when I'm shopping or when inspiration hits outside of the apartment cocoon. Recently, I've been using the desktop version a bit, but I think I still prefer the iPad app the most.
Like many before me, I started using Evernote for my grocery shopping list. Personally, I love creating my list with the open box feature rather than numbers or bullets because I do check off the items as I put them in my cart. No wondering if I forgot something. Using the checklist also helps prevent impulse buys.
I have notes for Target, The Container Store, and Ikea too. I don't frequent these stores nearly as much as I did when I had a car. My Person and I will sometimes be out and unexpectedly stop in at one of these stores. I've been happy on several occasions to pop open Evernote and see a reminder to buy a certain sized box or ibuprofen, whatever we may need.
Taking pictures of items in the store and keeping them in the same note is also helpful. Need to check dimensions at home? No problem. Snap that picture. Out shopping alone and see something that may be a solution? Take a picture and avoid trying to find that same item on the company's website!
With a premium subscription, we could share any of these notes. For right now, I keep track of most of the shopping. My Person has access to the grocery list, so he can add his desire for specific K-cup purchases. He loves coffee even more than I do.
Household Nested Notebook
This notebook is one where we share a little more. Household is actually nested notebooks, which is super easy to do in Evernote. Just grab one notebook and drag it on top of another. I like to rename the larger notebook just to keep my head wrapped around the larger organizational picture.
Nested Notebook #1: Major Purchases
Excess paper drives both of us nuts! For every appliance and electronic gizmo, we've scanned the instructions and placed them into this notebook. Same thing with receipts and warranties. We scan those into this notebook and shred the paper version!
Nested Notebook #2: Home Inventory
This one is a work in progress. Our idea is to take pictures of our stuff in every room. Then list off what details we remember about purchasing that stuff. Right now, we've only catalogued the major purchases, but we'll complete the Home Inventory one of these days.
Nested Notebook #3: Measurements
When we moved into our San Francisco apartment, we had both eliminated furniture from previous residences. We were buying base pieces together to ft our needs in our 687 square foot studio. Immediately, I started taking pictures and typing measurements into Evernote. The Measurements Notebook was our first shared notebook, and it came in handy on several occasions. We were in Ikea showing the pictures to one of the sales staff to clarify which desk pieces would actually fit in the office nook. Super handy!
If we tackle home improvement projects, I could see us using Evernote as well. It's a great place to keep notes on any comparison shopping we may want to do.
Nested Notebook #4: Money Matters
These notes are a loose version of a budget. It's what I like to consider our money snapshot. Within Evernote, you can create tables, so I made a table with four columns. Similar to other programs, you can add and delete rows and columns as necessary. Our four columns are labeled: Income, Uniform Expenses, Expenses of Varied Amounts, and Luxury Expenses. By placing bills and services into one of the three columns, we quickly got an overview of how we spend money and how we could save more.
I love finding recipes on Pinterest, but every time I pin a recipe, I do wonder how long that link will work. Will that blogger ever decide to quit hosting the site? What do I do if the recipe disappears into cyberspace?
Well, now I don't worry about recipes I use all the time. Instead I use Evernote's Web Clipper to clip the instructions and pictures into my Recipes Notebook. You can clip the article, the entire page, or just a section that you highlight.
Most food bloggers are great about having a printable version of the recipe, usually toward the bottom of the post. With my iPad, I just open the printable version of the recipe in Safari, click the icon for sharing, click on the Evernote option that I enabled, choose the correct notebook for storage, and press Save.
I do use a few tags for my Recipes Notebook. Right now, my collection isn't that extensive, but I could see it growing. The tags I've assigned will make filtering results easier for me. Generally, I don't use tags because with a premium subscription, Evernote does have OCR, which works pretty well.
And once I have a note with the recipe in it, I can add my own notes about substitutions or alterations I make.
Movie List Notebook
After using Evernote to clip and store recipes, it dawned on me that I could create a Movie List Notebook. I don't watch much television, and I rarely spend money at the movie theater, so I need some system to remind myself about movies that I do want to get from the library.
I had a board on Pinterest that I had named "Look For..." but I usually forgot that it was there. By placing these movie titles into Evernote, I'm hoping that I'll remember to grab some of the more obscure documentaries that I know I want to see. And once I've seen the movie, it's easy to delete.
Business Cards Notebook
I love supporting local businesses! Whenever I'm at a local festival or book event, or even wandering the merchant's floor at a Comic Con, I run across so many great artists! While I may not buy something from that person right away, I always grab their business card. For years, I would hold onto the business card for a few months, and then throw it away. I never had a system in place to organize the cards and their presence in my desk or in a day planner would just frustrate me.
In 2014, I realized I could take a picture of the card (front and back), and add that business card to Evernote. I can even add notes to myself about where I met this person, if I bought anything from them, and what I may want to buy from them in the future. Sometimes I add store hours too. If I click the Information icon, I can type in the street address and have the street map right there. Business cards can also be added to your Contacts list and LinkedIn. I haven't gone that far with any of those features. I have shared by text message one business card with a friend who asked where I got something. Simple process.
Moving / Road Trip / Vacation Notebook
When My Person helped me move from Denver to San Francisco, we drove to Tucson where I stored some boxes at our place there, sold my car, and visited with friends. Then we flew to San Francisco with just some luggage.
We were definitely on a time line. I had to have certain tasks completed at certain times. A friend was coming to pick up my old mattress. I was donating other furniture. We had various dinner plans with different people. We had hotel reservations in various cities.
All of these details we coordinated in Evernote. It's a great place to share an itinerary! While we also use TripCase to store flight and hotel information, we will definitely use Evernote on future vacations that require some structure to make the most of our time.
Yep, I have a note for each blog post that I want to write. I always have my phone with me, so Evernote is the perfect place to catch all of my ideas. For instance, when My Person and I were eating at a local diner, we kept seeing cars being pulled over because they were driving in the transit lane. I started taking notes as we ate. After dinner, we talked to one of the officers who was writing the tickets and I took notes as we chatted. Evernote made that process easy.
If I'm at home, my iPad isn't usually far from me. I love being able to jot down ideas quickly. When inspiration for a new post hits, I want to capture that idea as fast as possible.
This notebook is where I keep everything else. I have a Potential Gift note that I keep for my nieces and nephews. If I'm out and I see something that I think they may enjoy, I take a picture of that book or toy and add it to the note. Sometimes I just jot down the name, price, and pertinent details. Either way, it's a great way to organize what I may want to get for them for birthdays or holidays.
I have another note about Overdrive. I love using my library resources, but I always forget how to transfer audio files from Overdrive into iTunes. Sure, I could look it up on the library website, but those instructions are pretty generic. The second time I sat staring at my screen trying to remember what I did the last time, I decided to create an Overdrive note and type in step-by-step instructions for what I should do. Overdrive has not frustrated me since.
I have some of my dad's medical information scanned into Evernote. After my mom died, my dad gave me and my siblings copies of his medication list and doctor list. Keeping that information in a folder at home doesn't do much good if someone calls me. I need that list with me and I don't want to carry extra paper. Keeping it in Evernote means that I can help anyone who calls me about my dad right away.
Evernote has so many ways to record useful and inspiring information! I never thought I would love an app this much, but Evernote has truly changed how I organize my life. I suspect I'll find even more uses for this tool in 2015!
If you're as obsessed with Evernote as I am, please share in the comments how you use it to make your life better.