Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spoonful Sunday: Organizing with Evernote, Plus a Giveaway!

Two years ago today, Evernote entered my life.  I had just gotten my first iPhone and was perusing must-have app lists, and I downloaded it right away because it was free and highly rated.  Little did I know then that it would become a major part of my life, keeping me organized and on top of everything. 
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At first, I had no idea what I was going to use it for.  I only had it on my phone, and I figured it would be a good place to jot down notes or maybe save a picture or two.  Then I started learning about all the different functions and platforms, and I quickly realized that it was the perfect way to centralize my ever-growing digital world.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

For me, the thing that makes Evernote unique is its infinite searchability.  They have all the obvious search functions like tagging and notebooks that make it easier to visually organize the information and access it in groups.  But they take it a step further and you can search for words anywhere – titles, tags, note body, even in photographs or screen clips.  So it’s easy to find what you need, and fast.

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There are also lots of different types of notes and ways to create them.  You can record audio notes on your phone, email them in via your special Evernote address, upload pictures from your phone, or clip on your computer with one of their web or screen clipper tools – and that’s just to name a few. 

Evernote is available for pretty much any computer or mobile device out there. I use the Evernote apps for iPhone and iPad, plus I have Evernote for Windows on my PC (that is the platform I find it easiest to work with). You can also access your Evernote from any browser, making it accessible just about everywhere. Bonus – it’s free!

My Favorite Ways to Use Evernote
  • Saving Recipes – I love reading about food, so I’m always looking at recipes in magazines or online.  Evernote gives me a central place to collect them all.  I use the web clipper and Windows-A keyboard shortcut for ones I find online, and scan or take photos of ones I find in cookbooks and magazines, and grab screen shots on my iPad.  All searchable, so it’s easy to find recipes based on ingredients or keywords, and I don’t lose recipes anymore!  I keep them in 2 notebooks, Recipes - to Try for new ones and Recipes – Favorites for ones we’ve made and liked, and use tagging to organize them within those notebooks. 
  • Gift Ideas – when I see something I think would be perfect for someone, I save it to Evernote and tag it with their name.  When you save something with the web clipper it automatically saves the URL on the note, so it’s easy to find it again.  If you take a picture when you’re in a store, it notes your location so you know exactly where you were when you want to go back and get it.  When it comes time to shop at the holidays, those notes come in handy!
  • User Guides – it seems like everything you buy these days comes with a user guide.  I had a drawer full of the things, so inevitably when I needed one it would take forever to find it.  Now I scan them into my Evernote, and they are available with a simple search, no digging needed.  I also attach any registration and warranty info, plus a copy of the receipt if it’s a big item. 
  • Coupon Vouchers – there are a lot of discount voucher sites out there these days, and if you buy a lot of them it can get hard to keep track!   When I buy one, I save the voucher as a new note in Evernote, titling it with the item and expiration date.  Then I have a single note with a list of links to all the notes (right click and choose Copy Note Link, then paste into the new note and it will create a link with the note title).  So I end up with one note listing everything I have, and I just click on the links to go straight to the voucher when I’m ready to spend it.
And that is just scratching the surface… I keep so much in there – my current note count is over 5,000!  I’m definitely an Evernote junkie Smile  This week’s spoonful is going to be to clean house a bit and try to bring that number down.  Wish me luck!

Since I use the service so much, I upgraded to a premium membership pretty shortly after joining.  You can have just a free account, which will let you do everything I talked about above, but you get a smaller upload allowance, slower speeds and fewer security features.  I definitely think that premium is worth the $5 a month, so I highly recommend upgrading if you like using the software.

So, on to the promised giveaway!  Recently I participated in the first-ever Evernote Cook-Along on Facebook, and I was one of the lucky five to win a prize pack, which was stuffed with lots of Evernote goodies – you can imagine my excitement when I opened this up Smile
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To celebrate my 2-year Evernote anniversary, I decided to share their generosity and do my first-ever blog giveaway!  From now through Saturday, you can enter to win a 3-month premium membership gift card, mini screen cleaner, and some stickers.
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To enter, just answer the question – how would you use Evernote?  You can also get extra entries by spreading the word via Facebook or Twitter, details below.  I will announce the winner next Sunday in my post.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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