I was living in a sea of paper, web book marks, an email inbox full of junk with the occasional gem, yellow stickies, todo lists and more. Things were getting done but my mind was not quiet, always spending a few cycles remembering where that important action item was and wondering if I was missing something. This post outlines my own journey where I’ve come to use Evernote and a few habits from the Getting Things Done time management philosophy to calm that sea and random resting places into a place where I can focus at the task at hand with confidence.
My first cautious step into electronic note keeping began even before Evernote when I discovered that the “notes” app on the iPhone could be synchronized with notes in my email client on my computer. I could have my yellow stickies where I worked (on the computer) and with me when I was out and about (on my iPhone). Over a few months I began to rely on my electronic notebook and it elliminated a whole bunch of miscellaneous bits of paper from my life. But more importantly I had those items with me when I needed them the most. When I started the draft of that next proposal or when I was at a meeting in front of a client. I was keeping all kinds of things in notes: shopping lists, notes on my work projects, travel itineraries, random ideas … it truly had replaced the yellow stickies in my life.
transitioned into Evernote because I had heard it was great and it had additional features like a web interface, the ability to organize notes and quickly search your notes, and it was free. I found Evernote easier to use and with a few simple organizing concepts more powerful then the basic notes app I had used to get started.
##My Writing Place
Evernote gave me fast access to my own growing collection of information and I found it was a platform from which I could do more and write more.
I’ve always wanted to push myself to become a better writer, keep a journal, jot down random ideas, write more for my consulting practice, maybe write a book. Evernote has become a place for me to do that, its become my writing place. It starts with a lists of ideas that morphs into an outline where I link to resources from my own notes and the web. After many years of trying notebooks, index cards anything, Evernote is working for me! I now keep a journal, collect stories and jokes for my ski classes, started a blog, and have outlines for more ambitious writing projects. Evernote lets me keep all this in front of me. All those small bits of writing I use to do but soon became lost and forgotten now jell into useful products here on Evernote.
I heard that Evernote could make a paperless business process. For me I specifically want to handle tax time for my small business with out the usual grief. I hooked up a scanner and now keep my receipts, milage, and cash expense records online in Evernote. Not effortlessly but it is a simple process that I keep up with on a weekly basis. One more step of quieting the turbulent sea of paper that was my life.
Any basic business process can be put online like this. With a shared notebook an organization can process items cooperatively. Another example of the power of connecting some simple concepts and good habits.
##Getting Things Done
How do you clear your mind so you can focus on the task at hand? The GTD community promotes a process where your sure that the task at hand is the most important for the time, place, resources you have at the moment and with the confidence that all those other things on your plate will not drop through the cracks and taken on in do course. The approach centers around having a single in box where you can process your next actions into lists organized around time imperatives, location, and resources at hand.
Evernote can be the single place required by GTD to store all the stuff that you need to take action on, find what to do next and make sure ideas and imperatives don’t get lost for all those other tasks that are not being worked at the moment. The key features I use is the ability to send forward emails to Evernote and the tag feature. Tagging allows easily mark a note as Now, Later, Waiting, @Work, @Home and any combination of these. With a little time spent each day processing my in box I now know when I search on the Now tag I have my most important action in front of me. This allows me to focus completely on the task at hand with the associated productivity gains.
##Sharing Curated Information with Others
My next adventure with Evernote is to use it as a platform to share with others through Evernote. This blog post has been composed in Evernote and published on this blog by setting a Tag through the power of Postach.io.
I’m teaching an evening class introducing Evernote at the Edwards campus of the Colorado Mountain College, Thursday October 17, 2013. The class will be a hands on workshop in the wonderful computer lab at CMC, Edwards. I will take the student through the basics of Evernote and then show how it can be a foundation for your own Get Things Done process and finally we’ll explore other advanced features such as paperless business process, collaboration with other and publishing your own blog. There will be plenty of time for hands on experience and to get your questions answers. This class used a shared notebook at http://bit.ly/CMCEdwardsEvernoteClass to distribute class materials.
Why the picture with the Elephant? It’s a photo of me from a recent trip to Bali with the symbol of remembering and the basis of the Evernote logo.