Advertising
Advertising

7 Ways to Use Evernote

7 Ways to Use Evernote

Evernote

    Last week, Lifehack founder Leon Ho introduced me to the beta note taking application Evernote. Evernote boasts a variety of features that make it an excellent application, including automatic synchronization between the web and your other devices, tagging and sorting features, an online client that makes it accessible from anywhere, and a search feature that can even search text stored within images.

    From the developers themselves:

    Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from anywhere.

    I’m a big fan of anything that keeps my data synchronized between devices, let alone totally automatically, so I was keen to give Evernote a try. It has grown on me in a short amount of time. It’s great for keeping snippets of information, replacing stickies and taking down notes, and pasting research from the web into.

    It’s got a pretty unique set of features and fills a gap in my workflow I’d been looking to fill in terms of applications, so today we’ll look at seven ways to use Evernote to make life easier.

    For the record, I’m not affiliated with Evernote in any way, and I haven’t had any communication with the developers before – it’s just an insanely useful application that anyone interested in productivity can benefit from.

    1. The office cleaner: usually, by the end of the day when I zero out my email inbox and desktop, I’ve built up a collection of text files that I used to take down spur-of-the-moment notes. If the phone rings, I open a new text file as I answer it; if I have an idea while I’m working on something, it goes straight in a text file. It’s just more clutter that’s hard to find a suitable place for at the end of the day.

    Advertising

    The same goes with sticky notes that get plastered around the edges of the monitor, and even scraps of paper floating around the desk (and floor… and ceiling!). One of the best, yet simplest, uses of Evernote has been to store those day-to-day snippets of information in a more organized, less cluttered manner. Let Evernote clean your office.

    2. Share information unobtrusively: instead of being “that guy” who sends every last scrap of info, relevant or not, in a new email to ten people at a time, store that information with Evernote and share it with the relevant people; you won’t clog up their email anymore, and they have more control of their own time back. It’s hard to zero out an inbox when everything’s being sent there whether you need to deal with it now or not.

    3. Sneak some work home without anyone knowing: got a spouse who gets snarky when you bring work home with you? Don’t make it so obvious – just save your material as an Evernote entry and sync when you get home.  It’s less likely to be spotted than the bulky folder you walked in the door with last week.

    Spouses aside, working in Evernote can make taking your work home a lot easier than emailing Word documents or transferring them to your PDA or laptop before you leave. Just hit the Sync button and you’re done.

    Advertising

    While we’re on the topic, from a productivity point of view, work should only be brought home when it’s unavoidable – a good work-life balance is important to maintaining peak efficiency.

    4. Create a single research document: I recently wrote an article on digital rights management that involved a lot of online research, which I stored by keeping bookmarks in Firefox. The downside was that when I came back to write, I had to open all my tabs again and find the appropriate sections on each page.

    It’s much easier to take the relevant content from each page, including a link in case you need to go back, and pasting them into a single Evernote entry that gives you all the necessary information in a more concise and manageable format. If only I did this at the time!

    Instead of bookmarking your resources when you do research online, compile the relevant information from each page into a research file in Evernote.

    Advertising

    5. Take notes during meetings without transcribing, or for that matter transferring them to other devices. Type away as your boss prattles on and before you’re even back at the cubicle, the notes are on your desktop (great if you process notes into GTD action items immediately after a meeting).

    6. Keep an always-accessible idea file: one of the best things any writer or blogger can do is start an idea file. It can be hard to think of new ideas constantly, and when you do come up with one, it tends to happen in a very strange, awkward spot. Evernote means that you’ll almost never be caught without a way to capture it and compile an idea file – once that list starts filling up you’ll never be short on something to write about.

    7. Plan big projects in Evernote – start a new notebook for a particular project and sort different tasks and research topics using the tags feature. Now, everything you could possibly want to recall or act on regarding a project will be in one spot.

    Evernote Invitations

    Advertising

    If you want to skip the wait to get into the beta, I’ve got five invites in my Evernote account that I can give away. I’ll send them to five commenters who come up with a really unique way to use Evernote in the next twelve hours.

    More by this author

    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

    How to Master the Art of Prioritization The Importance of Scheduling Downtime How to Make Decisions Under Pressure 11 Free Mind Mapping Applications & Web Services How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Your Advantage

    Trending in Featured

    1 5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect 2 How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck 3 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time 4 How to Take Time for Yourself and Restore Your Energy 5 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on November 12, 2020

    5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

    5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

    As a perfectionist, do you spend a lot of time “perfecting” your work so that everything comes out the way you want it to?

    I believe many of us are perfectionists in our own right. We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward to achieve them. We dedicate copious amounts of attention and time to our work to maintain our high personal standards. Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting.

    Dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us to achieve great results. Yet, there is a hidden flip side to being perfectionists that we may not be aware of. Sure, being a perfectionist and having a keen eye for details help us improve and reach our goals. 

    However, as ironic as it might sound, a high level of perfectionism prevents us from being our best as we begin to set unrealistic standards and let the fear of failure hold us back.

    Below, we’ll go over some of the reasons why being a perfectionist may not be so perfect and how it can inhibit you from being the best version of yourself.

    Why Perfectionism Isn’t So Perfect?

    1. Less Efficiency

    As a perfectionist, even when you are done with a task, you linger to find new things to improve on. This lingering process starts off as 10 minutes, then extends to 30 minutes, then to an hour, and more. We spend way more time on a task than is actually required.

    In order to be truly efficient, we need to strike a balance between the best we could possibly do and the level of “good” a specific project requires. No one will expect perfection from you because it will ultimately be impossible to attain. Do the best you can in a reasonable time frame, and allow yourself to put it into the world.

    Advertising

    2. Less Effectiveness

    We do little things because they seem like a “good addition” without consciously thinking about whether they’re really necessary. Sometimes, not only do the additions add no value, but they might even ruin things.

    For example, over-cluttering a presentation with unneeded details can make it confusing for listeners. Jam-packing a blog layout with too many add-ons can make it less user friendly. Sometimes, consistency is key, and if you continuously change things, this will become much more difficult.

    3. More Procrastination

    Our desire to “perfect” everything makes us overcomplicate a project. What’s actually a simple task may get blown out of proportion to the extent that it becomes subconsciously intimidating. This makes us procrastinate on it, waiting for the ever “perfect” moment before we get to it. This “perfect” moment never strikes until it is too late.

    Instead of overthinking it, set small objectives if you have a big project ahead of you. This will help you tackle it step-by-step and complete it before the deadline.

    If you need help tackling procrastination, check out this article.

    4. Missing the Bigger Picture

    As a perfectionist, you get so hung up on details that you forget about the bigger picture and the end vision. It’s not uncommon to see better jobs done in pruning the trees than growing the forest.

    Take a step back and remind yourself of your end goal. Try setting a timeline to help yourself stick to the work that needs to be done without ruminating on things that could be improved.

    Advertising

    5. Stressing Over Unfounded Problems

    We anticipate problems before they crop up, and come up with solutions to address these problems. It becomes an obsession to pre-empt problems. As it turns out, most of these problems either never surface or don’t matter that much.

    When Perfectionism Becomes a Problem

    The problem isn’t perfectionism specifically. Perfectionism helps us to continuously strive for excellence and become better, so it can really be a good thing.The problem is when setting high standards turns into an obsession, so much so that the perfectionist becomes neurotic over gaining “perfection” and refuses to accept anything less than perfect. In the process, s/he misses the whole point altogether and does damage to their mental health. Such perfectionists can be known as “maladaptive perfectionists.”[1] Maladaptive perfectionists spend so much time setting high expectations and striving for perfection that they increase levels of depression and anxiety. 

    Diagram showing how a healthy perfectionist and a maladaptive perfectionist respond to failure.

      The answer isn’t to stop being a perfectionist or high achiever. It’s to be conscious of our perfectionist tendencies and manage them accordingly. We want to be healthy perfectionists who are truly achieving personal excellence, not maladaptive perfectionists who are sabotaging our own personal growth efforts[2].

      How to Be a Healthy Perfectionist

      1. Draw a Line

      We have the 80/20 rule, where 80% of output can be achieved in 20% of time spent. We can spend all our time getting the 100% in, or we can draw the line where we get majority of the output, and start on a new project.

      Obsessing over details is draining and tedious, and it doesn’t help us accomplish much. I used to review a blog post 3-4 times before I published. All the reviewing only amounted to subtle changes in phrasing and the occasional typos. It was extremely ineffective, so now I scan it once or twice and publish it.

      2. Be Conscious of Trade-offs

      When we spend time and energy on something, we deny ourselves the opportunity to spend the same time and energy on something else. There are tons of things we can do, and we need to be aware of the trade-offs involved, so we can better draw a line.

      For example, if some unimportant blog admin work takes an hour, that’s an hour I could spend on content creation or blog promotion. Being conscious of this helps me make a better choice on how to spend my time.

      Advertising

      3. Get a View of the Big Picture

      What is the end objective? What is the desired output? Is what you are doing leading you to the overall vision?

      As a perfectionist, to make sure my attention is set on the end point, I have a monthly and weekly goal sheet my blog that keeps me on track. Every day, I refer to it to make sure what I’m doing contributes to the weekly goals, and ultimately the monthly goals to keep me on track.

      4. Focus on Big Rocks

      Big rocks are the important, high impact activities. Ask yourself if what you are doing makes any real impact. If not, stop working on it.

      If it’s a small yes, deprioritize, delegate it to someone else, or get it done quickly. Seek out high impact tasks and spend time on them instead. Knowing the big picture helps you know the big rocks that contribute to the end goal.

      5. Set a Time Limit

      Parkinson’s Law

      tells us work will take however long we want it to take. If you give yourself 4 hours, you will finish it in 4 hours. If you give yourself 3 hours, you will finish within 3 hours. If you don’t give yourself any time limit, you will take forever to do it.

      Set the time limit and finish the task by then. There can be a million things you can do to improve it, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

      Advertising

      6. Be Okay With Mistakes

      Part of the reason why a perfectionist obsesses over their work is because they want it to be mistake-free. However, trying to achieve 100% perfection is highly ineffective. If we’re busy perfecting this thing, we can’t get to other important things.

      Realize that making mistakes is a trade off we have to embrace. The more we open ourselves to making mistakes, the faster we can get down to learning from them, and the quicker we can grow.

      7. Realize Concerns Usually Amount to Nothing

      It’s good to plan and prepare, but there comes a time when we should let things roll and deal with problems as they crop up. Being overly preemptive makes us live in an imaginary future versus in the present.

      This doesn’t mean you don’t care. What it means that most of the things that do crop up can always be controlled on the spot, without worrying about them beforehand.

      8. Take Breaks

      If your productivity is waning, take a break. Resting and coming back to the same thing later on gives you a renewed perspective and fresh focus.

      The Bottom Line

      Perfectionism doesn’t have to be the enemy. If you’re a perfectionist, you can use it to help you be better at what you love to do. However, there’s a time and a place for it, and it’s important to learn strategies to start overcoming perfectionism when it becomes an obsession.

      Instead of doing work perfectly, do your best and move on. This will help you go farther, faster.

      More on Being Your Best

      Featured photo credit: Elsa T. via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next