I used to collect ideas wherever it was convenient at the time, which always made revisiting them inconvenient later on. It seemed like no matter what clever notebook scheme I came up with, or whatever file structure I made on my computer, I still just dumped things from my brain, never to be seen again.
Then one day I met Evernote®, and after a few fits and starts, I’m finally in a groove where my ideas are working for me, and so is the way I store them.
You know that feeling when you dream of something amazing and when you wake up the first thing you say to yourself is, “I’m going right this dow right after…” and before you finish that thought, it’s gone? Yeah, I hate that, and it’s become my mission to stop it from happening to me. I’ve come to develop the belief that everyone is creative and has their own form of genius that stays untapped because they don’t document it, and furthermore, that our technology will free us from the bonds of our weak memories and our dubious organizational skills.
This is where Evernote comes in, with its gleaming green logo beaming its symbolism into your brain: Elephants never forget! In fact, their slogan is “Remember Everything™”. (Notice my careful usage of the trademark symbols! I think I satisfied the legal requirements, but I’m writing a positive assessment here so hopefully their legal team will cut me some slack!) And I have to say, it’s hard to argue with that marketing, because once you are using their tools in your day-to-day life, you just might “recall it all”, which is most likely someone else’s trademark.
The concepts in the Evernote service are simple. You create notebooks, and inside those notebooks you put notes. This is trivial. However you can also tag your notes with locations, set reminders for them, attach pictures and documents, insert lists, annotate PDFs, record sound bites, search the text in uploaded pictures, email items to your account, collaborate with people on items, and much more. Yes, this is a very salesman-like pitch, but it’s difficult not to sound like one when the product is this good.
Let me be clear though, it isn’t just the features that Evernote has that I’m excited about. It’s the fact that they keep adding things every couple months that’s exciting. It’s the fact that there’s an API for Evernote, and hundreds of applications that integrate with it. Couple that with rapid adoption of mobile OS features like Touch ID and share sheet, and synchronization to the cloud, and you’ve got something interesting. It’s exciting when something turns up and sticks around that you can rely on, never mind rely on to improve.
There’s a premium addition to Evernote which adds a bunch of features to the service. Not everyone needs it, and I think that’s why it’s optional. I recommend that everyone give the free version a try and then consider going premium anyway. It’s not that expensive ($40?) for the entire year, and it gives you the added piece of mind that you’re supporting the continued development of the application. I’m happy to spend this money every 12 months, and even if the price went up (something that isn’t likely), I would continue to pay.
I’ve never felt so confident that I’m not missing something big. I’ve never felt more sure that what’s important is at my fingertips. And I’ve never been so tempted to just ditch paper entirely. With optical character recognition and optimized filters for photographing text, this service might finally make it practical without having to spend hours scanning things. Now I might get to use my shredder after all! And give my printer a rest.
Here is my referral link. If you’re going to sign up, please do so by using this link. And as soon as you do that, go get your own referral link and send it to everyone you know. You won’t be disappointed!