Saturday, August 30, 2014

Staying Organized with Evernote

*note: I wrote this post because I have used Evernote for years and truly think it's an amazing tool. I have no affiliation with the company and this post is based entirely on my personal experience.

I'm always telling everyone about my very favorite organizational tool, Evernote, but somehow I've never written about it other than a mention in my post about my PLN workflow. One of Evernote's greatest features is that it is just as simple or as complex as you need it to be. Google "Evernote and..." and you'll find thousands of ideas of how to use it in any context you can imagine. Here's a screenshot from Evernote on my Mac:

And here's why I find it so awesome:

1) Evernote is FREE! There are lots of cool extra features (including pdf editing) and additional upload space if you become a Premium member for $5/month, but it is NOT necessary for most purposes.

2) Everything is in the cloud, accessible from any web browser or through beautiful apps for desktop, iOS, Android, etc. Everything is also saved locally on your computer (if you use the app), and Premium users can save offline notebooks on their devices, too.

3) You can put just about anything digital in Evernote–text, images, audio, movies, .doc files, etc. You can combine these into the same notes. You can put things in Evernote directly, use various web clipping tools, email notes to your account, etc.

4) Evernote performs OCR on all your image files (.pdf, .jpg, etc.) and then (this is MY FAVORITE THING) they become searchable!! If I search for the word "jump" in Evernote, I find text notes I wrote about my children's development, scanned handouts from NCMEA with songs about jumping, a picture I took of the whiteboard after a 3rd-grade music class in which we listed motions for a song (in my messy handwriting), and many songs I scanned in from my hefty curriculum manuals.

5) Evernote supports both notebooks and tags. I use both. For example, I have categories for "curriculum scans" and "curriculum ideas," because that's how I prefer to browse through my notes, but if I search for the tag "lower school," I'll find relevant notes in both of those notebooks. Evernote can also organize your notes by date, location (with a neat map view), etc.

6) Evernote integrates beautifully with loads of other productivity apps. The image editor/clipper app Skitch and the iPad handwriting app Penultimate are owned by Evernote, but that's just the start. My favorite desktop productivity app is Zengobi's Curio. I use it as a master organizer for my classes, an interactive whiteboard tool, keeping track of my middle school advisees, and as a family organizer. Perhaps I'll give it its own blog entry soon. :-) Here's a screenshot from my lower school teaching space with the Evernote sidebar open (viewing my "curriculum ideas" notebook):

The best way to find out if Evernote is for you is just to use it! It's free online and on all your devices. The more you put in it, the more useful it becomes–so if you can commit to clipping blogs, typing notes, taking pictures, etc. into it for a couple of weeks you're more likely to find if it works for you.

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