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Transition Painlessly From Paper To Evernote

Transition Painlessly From Paper To Evernote

For many people, the transition from paper-based notes, be they personal or professional, to an electronic note-taking application (such as Evernote) is a painful one. The discomfort is sometimes borne of the not-easily-dismissed stress of adopting a new approach to taking notes when an existing system has worked somewhere between sufficiently and superbly for many years and is familiar, comfortable, and reliable. And, with few exceptions, paper notes in a reliable workflow don’t end up lost or corrupted by data errors. In other cases, the discomfiture may be a result of too many available choices among solutions, and little desire to spend the money or time to investigate the options, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each, and finally settle on an app to replace a paper system.

I’m going to suggest two solutions for avoiding this stress during the transition, and these solutions will allow you to return to a strictly paper-based note taking system any time you like without having lost anything along the way!

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Keep your paper notes

First, don’t eliminate your paper notes. They’ve served you well for years, presumably, or you wouldn’t still be using them. Continue to use them. Take notes, jot ideas, sketch designs, draw little connecting arrows to relate ideas to each other. Do whatever currently works for you, and do it on paper.

If you aren’t currently tagging notes when you take them on paper, consider starting now. They aren’t searchable, of course, using an electronic system (yet), but you can quickly skim the bottom line of pages in a notepad and look for tags far quicker than you can read the titles of multiple notes.  For example, if I had been drafting ideas for this note in my Moleskine pad, I might have tagged the bottom of the page with #lifehack #evernote #paper-transition or something similar. The use of the hash mark (#) to indicate a topical tag may be unfamiiar to you if you’ve never seen Twitter posts or content streaming from Twitter to a news site. Fear not; all the # sign does is indicate a topic tag follows it. You don’t need to use the mark as long as you always write the tags in the same section of the page and only use that section for topic tags.

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However, it would make me really happy if Evernote would figure out that converting such handwriting to actual tags for existing tags within Evernote is a really good idea. More on that in a bit…

Start using Evernote

Really. Just start using it. Download it to your smartphone or tablet, or browse to evernote.com from your computer. You can save pretty much anything you want in Evernote as a note:  an actual note, a list, a checklist, a photo, a web clipping, a set of URLs as bookmarks, etc. Steve Dotto has a great video demonstrating several awesome uses of Evernote in an easy-to-follow format. Play around with Evernote after watching the video. The app is free (unless you want to upgrade to premium for the astoundingly low price of $5 a month). You don’t need to stress at all about using the app instead of your paper notes. Just play with the app’s features. And, if you like Moleskine notebooks, Evernote and Moleskine have a great deal where you buy a Moleskine notebook for basically what you’d pay for it anyway, and it comes with three months of free Evernote premium. A bonus is the size of these notebooks is configured to be readily compatible with the Evernote photo-taking feature. Regardless, it is fully capable of taking whatever photos you want to upload.

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The following recommendations worked for me, and they’ve worked for quite a number of other people to whom I’ve made these recommendations. They don’t work for everyone, but with some modifications to suit your personal work style, they ought to work for you.

  1. Take your notes on paper, the way you’re accustomed to doing. Jot a quick topical tag or two at the bottom of the first page of a set of notes about a given subject or meeting.
  2. Take a photo of each note page with your iPhone or Android phone camera. You can leave it as a photo or convert it to a PDF using something like Scanner Pro for the iPhone, which is what I use. If I’m in a hurry, I leave it as a photo.
  3. Do whatever you would normally do with those paper notes to save them—file them, add them to a topical folder, or leave them in your notebook. Don’t do anything to change how you currently treat your paper notes.
  4. When you have time, preferably soon, use Evernote to add a new note about your note-taking subject (say, a meeting), and add the photos of your paper notes or the PDF of your paper notes to this new note. You can also add additional text. Take the time to tag the note with a few significant keywords. You can use them for search later. Evernote will also convert handwriting or text in your photos to searchable text. Title the note something meaningful for the way you take notes and refer back to them. You can always change this later, even by creating additional notebooks for major subjects, or personal vs. work, or however you segregate your major note groupings. Remember to include the page number (if your notebook has page numbers) for where you can find the paper note.
  5. If you need to find notes quickly, or even if you have some time, use Evernote first to search for them. You will locate them more quickly, and often Evernote will find other notes you may have forgotten about but to which you want to refer.

The result

Even if you never eliminate your paper-based note-taking system, you will have added one of the most reliable cloud-based backup methods available to your note-taking method, gained the ability to search your notes, and enabled the ability to find your notes from any internet-connected computing platform you may be using.

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I’m going to suggest two solutions for avoiding this stress during the transition, and these solutions will allow you to return to a strictly paper-based note taking system any time you like.

Take care, and enjoy life,

Andrew

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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