First of all, what is Evernote?

Essentially, it’s a big online filing cabinet.  You can type notes directly in the application, attach documents, capture web pages, scan paper files and much more. These “notes” are organised into “notebooks”, which are in turn “stacked” into categories.

Evernote was a slow-burner for me.  I heard a lot of people rave about it, so I tried it for a while but just wasn’t using it day-to-day.

It wasn’t until I discovered these 4 key tips that I started to realise Evernote’s capabilities, and integrate it into my daily workflow.

So, in the interest of promoting paperless-ness and virtual working, I thought I’d share them with you!

Here’s how to make Evernote work for you:

1. Create an “Inbox”

When you first create an Evernote account, it automatically opens a notebook for you, which is titled after your account username.  The first thing you should do is rename this notebook as “Inbox”.  Why?

Well, when you start using Evernote it’s tempting to go wild and create notebooks and tags for every category that you can possibly think of.  But often how you think you’ll use it is quite different to the reality, and all too quickly you get bogged down in the structure you’ve created.

I would recommend creating an Inbox as a dumping ground for your new notes.  This will allow you the freedom to record thoughts and ideas without being distracted by which category they fit into.

It’s also important to highlight that when you use the Evernote smartphone app, all notes will automatically be sent to your original system-generated notebook (now your Inbox) by default.  So having this as the central point where all new notes go will make your filing much more straightforward when you get to it later.

2. Scan your handwritten notes

Evernote‘s character recognition is amazing.  I don’t consider my handwriting to be particularly legible to anyone but me, and yet when I search in Evernote for a keyword, up pop my hand written notes with incredible accuracy.

If, like me, you are someone whose desk is covered in post-its and scribbled bits of paper, then Evernote is your route to a tidy desk! Scan all those bits of paper by taking a photo in the Evernote App with your smartphone or tablet and you can search for those vital scraps of information when you need them.

3. Use the app for audio notes

The smartphone app isn’t just handy for scanning handwritten notes; you can also capture audio recordings.  I find this particularly useful on the go, as I often have my best ideas when I’m just out of a great meeting, or when I’m travelling, but I don’t have time to stop and write it down (and believe me, as much as you might like to think so, you won’t remember it later!).

Audio notes mean I can record my eureka-moments quickly and come back to them when I’m ready.

4. Share notebooks with collaborators

The last tip I have is to use Evernote for file sharing and collaboration.  Perhaps you’re working with a client or business partner and need easy access to the same documents? Or even at home, perhaps you need a central place to store all those utilities bills and other household “stuff”.  In Evernote you can choose to share notebooks with another user, facilitating easy access for all parties and a greener, more digital way of storing your files.

These are my 4 tips for making Evernote work for you! Do you have any more? Please share in the comments!

To try Evernote for yourself, visit www.evernote.com

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