Tag Archives: Evernote

Evernote for Task Management

evernote_logo_center_4c-lrgOn Friday I mentioned my latest endeavor, Project Reboot, and how I was going to start digging into starting today.

To be honest I started a bit early – one can’t complete a project unless you know what needs to be done to do that I needed a tool to track it all.

Up until now I’ve been using the todo.txt setup that Gina Trapani first mentioned on Lifehacker. The tool has evolved a bit since then and now has both Android and iPhone clients and is being actively developed. It is a great tool and I can say nothing but good things about it.

Unfortunately for me, I started to notice a bit of friction with using the tool. This is nothing against the tool, just the way my workflow has begun to develop and change, and if the tool causes friction you won’t use it so I started to look for a replacement.

Enter Evernote.

I’ve been singing the praises of Evernote for quite a while now and I use it for a number of things but never really looked to it to handle my to do or task list. So when I took a few minutes and looked at it I saw it definitely had the potential.

  • It’s available on my desktop and mobile platforms and I can access it from the web if I’m on a machine that it isn’t installed on.
  • It’s got check boxes to I can easily mark things done.
  • I have the ability to group all the tasks for a project in a single note

Looks like a winner to me.

So I’ve begun to track things in my Evernote system. I have a master note that contains a list of all stand alone tasks and project that need to be completed. For those items that are projects the task item is a note link to the note that contains information about the project (which could include links to other notes) and the list of tasks that needs to be completed.

For those that are followers of the Getting Things Done (GTD) system this does allow for an easy weekly review of outstanding projects. A global search for notes that have unfinished tasks in them give a listing of all the projects and the master task list all on one screen.

I’ve only begun to work with this system but so far it seems to be fitting my style of work and as it’s a tool I already have open most of the day and am familiar with so it makes it that much easier to use.

That’s one small step for Project Reboot, next up my social media networks.

What do you use for task management?

Thanks Google, but I’ll Keep my Evernote

Yesterday Google officially announced what has been swirling around as a rumor for days, their note taking application – Keep (read the announcement).

The service is very similar to Springpad and my personal choice, Evernote. It allows you to input your notes, take pictures, and create lists. Currently you can use it from your Android phone (running 4.0 and above) or from the web – Google Drive integration is coming.

If you had asked me about this service a few months ago you might have gotten me to take more than just a look at – I might have even jumped to it, but not now for a variety of reasons.

The shutdown of Google Notebook

There are still a few of us out there that remember Google Notebook, Google’s original note taking app. We also still remember when they decided to shut it down and everyone went scrambling for a way to save off their notes (this was before takeout). The folks at Evernote, among others, stepped up and offered a solution and in some cases tools to import your notes.

The shutdown of Google Reader

This was just announced (read about it here) and like Google Notebook it hits home for many of us. I’ve been a fairly regular user of either Reader or a service that depends on it for some time and have been now forced to find an alternative (I’ll post about it when I decide). I won’t sit here and “rage against the machine” that Google is for taking away this service as it is their right and they have given us plenty of time to migrate to something else. It does go to show though, that once again we were beholden to the almighty Google.

My decision to diversify

I mentioned a few months back, I’m diversifying my tool set. As many who know me would tell you, if it was a Google product, Scot would be “all in,” but that has changed. While the prospect of having my notes available right there in Google next to other items of mine I cannot bring myself to contradict my earlier decision. Will Google Keep be better than Evernote? There’s no way of knowing at this point but given that Evernote is working to be a 100 year startup, have clients for all the major platforms (Linux the notable exception) and have a profitable business model (yes, I pay for it) it’s hard to argue against them.

So, I know where I stand, how about you? Will you take to the walled Google Keep or use a different tool for your note taking and web gathering? Take a minute and share your thoughts.

Building your own knowledge base

How many times have you been in a position and said to yourself, “where did I see that article?” Given the great expanse of the Internet more than once I’d wager. Of course that’s only the online world, what about all those books and magazines (you do remember paper right?) you have piled up? How about the all the interesting sites and sounds you’ve come across when you’re out and about?

We’re exposed to thousands of data points everyday and the question becomes how to take that information again when we need it. To do that you need a personal knowledge base.

I’m not talking about just a collection of information, nearly everyone has the ability to do that. With the advent of the modern browser we can bookmark articles, save emails forever (or just about), review articles from hundred of websites if we choose. With the phone you have you can take snapshots of anything you wish, short videos, record your voice and even send a text message or make of phone call.

Then you have all the social media you’re reading and creating.

So you have all that information but that’s not a knowledge base.

A knowledge base is that collection of data overlaid with your own comments, observations and what you learned from the experience. When you read a book or an article you take something away from it – make a note of it. You took a snapshot of your kids playing in the snow, you’ll get the time, date, and place recorded automatically if you took it with a smartphone but not the why – add it to your notes.

Of course the other part of the challenge is finding a way to make it all available to you when you what it – no matter where you are. A place that you can continue to add items as well as pull from that stock of knowledge.

For me that tool is Evernote. Every device I own and use as it loaded on it. It’s become an integral part of what I do and who I am. It’s not just receipes and receipt photos – it’s also where I’ve stored photos of my kids, articles I wanted to read and any observations I had about them. I keep meeting minutes, newsletters, even voice mails – it’s a treasure trove of data.

As I’ve used Evernote I’ve come to learn more about how these pieces of data are connected – I even connect them using note links so I can move easily between them. I tag things, use keywords in titles and date code them (date codes is an upcoming post) all so I can find things easier and draw conclusions from that information.

I’ll be coming back to this topic often but my question for now is, do you have a personal knowledge base?

Also, be sure to check out the Wikipedia article bout Personal Knowledge Management.

Moving to mySMS, sorry Google Voice

mysmsOne of the hardest things for me to deal with since I made the decision to diversify my online tool bag is what to do about Google Voice. The service is extremely useful and I definitely like everything the tool has to offer but it really feels like there’s just too much riding on this one tool. My biggest issue is that if you don’t have a data connection you can’t make a call – yes, I still make a phone call with my phone believe it or not.

So, after much consideration I decided to split the difference and move my texting away from Google Voice and move the family and close friends back to my direct phone number. I still have Google Voice for my non-family contacts and still use the service for voice mail. Remember this exercise isn’t about leaving Google, just diversifying the tool box.

The one thing I really liked about Google Voice for texting is that I could keep and archive of my text messages. I’ve frequently have had to look back to find a piece of information like an account number or a phone number I needed to call. I didn’t want to loose that functionality and after looking at the different options I settled on mySMS.

The service has been working without issue for me for almost three months now. Like Google Voice instead of selecting the native texting app on my Razr I select the mySMS app and text away and the system either uses the mySMS system, if the recipient uses it or, as the case so far, my providers network (not an issue given my unlimited texting package). It’s seamless to me and the best part is that I have it set up to archive my text messages to my Evernote account so I have them available to me no matter where I am and they are fully searchable.

I also have to mention that there is a web interface so, like when I used Google Voice, I can have a window up on my screen and be sending and receiving messages without the need to pull my phone out. A handy option when you’re sitting in meetings most of the day!

At this point I’ve shifted my browser, my primary search engine, and now my texting tool, not all have been without growing pains but I have to admit it does feel nice to not have everything tied to the same provider. I’m not sure what else I’m going to move away from Google, if anything, but I’m definitely going to keep my mind open to other tools.

Do you use Google Voice or mySMS for text messaging? What about voice mail? Why not sound off in the comments below?

Use a desktop shortcut for easy Evernote import

If you’re like me you frequently download PDF articles from the web and then want to be able to store them away in your Evernote for later review or retrieval. Which then usually leads to  you to follow a multi-part process to get the file there.

  1. Tell the browser to download the file
  2. Locate your Evernote import folder
  3. Move the downloaded file to the Evernote import folder

To save some of those steps you could just download directly to the folder but what if you want to stitch multiple files together? What if you’re creating a zip archive (such as a group of photos) that you then want to import to Evernote?

What I’ve done is create a shortcut on my desktop and pointed it to the Evernote import folder on my hard drive. Now when I want to import a file I can just drag and drop the file onto that shortcut and it’s imported into my default notebook for later processing.

You could just create your import folder on the desktop but I like to keep all of my created folders in the ‘My Documents’ folder so that I can easily backup and recreate the directory structure if needed.