If you haven't yet, now is a great time to go back to the last post in this series and learn how to set up stacks in Evernote.
I use a Business Stack to keep all the notes and notebooks about my business operations together in one place.
In this post, I’m going to share with you a few key secrets of my business stack and how I use it to save time on a day-to-day basis.
You'll see what notebooks I keep in my business stack, and what goes in each!
The first notebook in my business stack is called .Process and it contains all the important steps in my project life cycle. Clearly defining a web design process is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
If you’re interested in learning more about my processes and seeing the inner workings of my business, check out The Process Hack.
Once you’ve identified the steps in your client onboarding and project processes, I recommend creating a note for each step. Title the note with a number and name of the step. For example, my notes are titled “1- Inquiry,” “2- Proposal,” “3- Payment,” and so on.
Each step’s note contains pre-written swipe text that I use for client communication. In my Inquiry note, I have outlined several scenarios in which new clients contact me and the appropriate email response for each. For example, I have a response for general inquiries, clients who didn’t check out my pricing, clients who aren’t on WP yet, and clients who aren’t a good fit and need to be referred elsewhere.
Stop reinventing the wheel! Identify your processes and create swipe text. #evernote4designers @designerguidebk – Tweet that!
If I don’t already have a good response for the inquiry in front of me, I will take the closest match and adapt it from there. Then that new response gets added to the Inquiry notebook for the next time I face a similar situation.
Having a note for each step in the process allows me to have one place to go to grab swipe text, commonly used information, and checklists that I will copy and paste into individual project folders. Anything that I find myself writing more than once gets added to the appropriate step!
Finding Things in Evernote
To help me to be able to quickly find what I’m looking for, I use the Reminders feature to “pin” the notes in numerical order to the top of the .Process notebook. Check out this tutorial from Evernote on how to set up Reminders on your device.
Tip: Reminders allows you to pin notes to the top of a notebook.
Since my .Process notebook is the most commonly used notebook in my Evernote, it’s also listed under Shortcuts for quick access. On your computer, you can add a notebook or note to the Shortcuts area by dragging and dropping it there.
One of my favorite features in Evernote is how easy it is to add checklists to notes. There is an “Insert To-do” button at the top of the visual editor that makes it easy to create clickable lists.
Check out this quick video tutorial from Evernote on using reminders.
I’ve tried using separate apps like Teux-Deux, Wunderlist, and Mac’s Reminders to keep my to-do lists but find it simpler when I have everything in one place. To me, it’s worth the trade-off of other features to have all my essential business items living under one roof.
Instead of using a separate app, I’ve set up a .To-Do notebook and keep one note for each month (i.e. To-Do: April). These notes have a rolling checklist of items I need to take care of that month, divided up into a handful of lists (Life, Priceless Design, Designer Guidebook, etc.) This month’s to-do note gets added to my Shortcuts for easy access.
At the end of the month, anything left undone is transferred to a new note for the next month. Right click on the current to-do note, select “Copy to Notebook …” and select your .To-Do notebook. I like to retitle the note that’s already linked in my Shortcuts area with the new month. Then I’ll go through and delete completed tasks and re-order my remaining tasks. Easy peasy!
Copy + Paste
Sometimes I have text that I know will be useful later, but it doesn’t fit into a specific step of my process. To make my life easier, I’ve created a Copy + Paste notebook. This notebook is my own personal swipe file and contains nearly a hundred email responses to various situations that a web designer comes across. I try to title each note with the gist of the situation to make it easier to find later and then paste my email response inside.
There are a handful of other notebooks in my business stack that I use frequently. You may or may not want to include these in your stack. Here are a few suggestions:
Featured: Record of places my business is mentioned online.
Infringement: Record of copyright infringements that I’m aware of and the ensuing email conversations.
Code: Snippets of code that I’ve used on my portfolio site.
Ideas: Ideas for posts, new services, networking, etc.
Posts: Blog posts for my portfolio website.
Testimonials: Record of client testimonials.
Tutorials: Tutorials I’ve written for clients. (These can be easily emailed or shared directly from Evernote.)
zArchive: Notes that I’m not ready to get rid of but don’t want cluttering other notebooks.
Last but not least, I have a notebook for accounting purposes called zBooks. (The “z” is to anchor the notebook at the bottom of the list!) Every time I get a receipt emailed to me, I forward it to my Evernote email address and add “@zBooks #2015” to the end of the subject line. Like magic, the receipt is then placed in my zBooks notebook and tagged with the year, making it easy to find come tax time.
Check out this tutorial on how to send email into Evernote.
Is your mind racing with possibilities yet? Setting up a business stack will save you time. It’s worth the investment now to make your life easier later. Your tasks are to:
- Create a .Process notebook.
- Create a note for each step in your process. (Need help? Check out my Priceless Process online course.)
- Create a Copy + Paste notebook.
- Every time you come across something you will have to write again, stick it in the appropriate step's note or add it to your Copy + Paste notebook.
- Set up an accounting notebook and test email a note to it.
Next week we’ll talk about what goes into my client notebooks and how I keep my projects organized.
This is the fourth post in the Designer Guide to Evernote series.