My New External Brain: Evernote

Evernote Icon


I’ve finally seen what all the Evernote fuss is about: It’s more impressive than almost any other productivity app I’ve used, and a basic account is free.

The company claims a lot for its app:

Evernote makes modern life more manageable by letting you easily collect and find everything that matters. From work notes and to-do lists to recipe collections and travel plans, add everything to Evernote to help you get organized without the effort.

But it’s so easy to access from any other app on any device, and so well-organized that it really can help you remember (or, rather, access) everything.

For example, do you want to file away the information in an email in a safe place, but not lose it among hundreds of email folders? Email it to your custom-created Evernote address, and it automatically files in your default notebook.

Do you want to make a simple shopping list with check marks and tap them as you go? Evernote can do that.

Do you have a bill you need to pay, and want to remind yourself of that unfortunate reality, but also have the relevant info at hand? Just take a picture of your bill with Evernote, add in a few comments, and it all saves in one place. You can even set a time-basd reminder to a note.

EvernoteAre you trying to make sense out of that stack of recipe notecards, and want to have it all in one easily accessible location for next time you cook? You can take photos of everything and file it in a “Recipes” notebook in Evernote. You can even tag your recipes with primary ingredients or nutritional details, so that pulling up your “Protein” tags gives you some good ideas for dinner.

There are at least a dozen more ways I’m using Evernote now every day to organize myself. I highly recommend it.

If you want to try it, you can register for free here. Going to that link also gives you and me both a free month of Premium, which adds some nice features like (get ready): keyword searching the three pages of text you just photographed from your favorite textbook. Yes, Evernote can do that.

But you don’t really need Premium to get a lot of utility out of it. It’s free, no strings attached.

It’s not perfect, of course. But I have yet to run into a limitation for the many ways I’ve already put it to use. Check it out and see what you think.

23 thoughts on “My New External Brain: Evernote

  1. It’s fantastic, isn’t it! I’m curious whether you think the things for which you use OmniFocus could be replicated easily enough in Evernote—maybe using tags for contexts, reminders, etc.

    1. Brilliant question, Tony, and one I’m really trying to figure out right now! I’m not sure yet. Still mulling it over. Other than a frustrating sync issue, I’m really enjoying OF for task management. Would be curious to hear your thoughts, though?

      1. I’ve been frustrated trying to find a workable task management system. I’ve tried Wunderlist, iOS Reminders, and a handful of other things I don’t even remember. I’ve been trying out the demo of OmniFocus, but it seems awfully expensive (especially in Australian dollars, and for multiple devices).
        I may be wrong, but contexts and projects seem to be the main advantage added by OmniFocus over Wunderlist (and forecasting, perhaps). But if I can accomplish that in Evernote with special tags and/or notebooks, then I don’t think I would bother any more with OF.

      2. Good point. Yes, that’s actually similar to the approach Things takes. Do you know that app? It was just free for both iPhone and iPad recently. They have a Mac demo, too.

        I’d think you could do what you’re describing, if you thought through your tagging system carefully first… but it should be easy enough. Curious to hear how it goes, if that’s what you try!

    1. Ha! That is awesome.

      I know you mentioned using your EN address for subscriptions and newsletters… that doesn’t ever get abused, does it? You can auto-send it to a notebook called “Newsletters” and just read at your leisure, right?

      1. No abuse yet. Well, I unsubscribed to Michael Hyatt because he sends out too much stuff. And yes, you can direct which folders email goes to it, but I just have it sent to my *Inbox folder, which is my default.

  2. One more thing…

    Visually, I don’t care for the new look of the Mac version of Evernote. I’ll be glad when this extreme minimalist trend dies down and we get some color back. There’s not even one glimmer of Evernote green in the new version!

    1. Great point! Yes, as much as I like the sleek layout, the icon buttons are really small! Too minimalist for my taste, too. Not unusable, but bigger buttons would be nice.

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