Evernote truly is the “home base” of my project management system. I use it in every stage of my design process.
The number one tip I can give you is to be consistent in using Evernote in the beginning. It's going to take a bit of time to set things up and learn your way around, but I promise it will be worth it.
Beyond notes, notebooks, and organization, I thought I’d share a few additional Evernote tips and ways that I utilize the program every day in my design business.
The notebooks that I use the most get dragged into the Shortcuts area. Right now, I have my current to-do list there, my .Process notebook, and the notebook where I’m writing this guide!
Reminders have so many uses! You can use them to set a date and time to be reminded of something. You can use them as a master to-do list. Or you they can act like a mini-shortcut bar within a notebook. Most often, I use Reminders like a table of contents for a notebook, to keep track of the various parts of a project.
Table of Contents
There is a real Table of Contents feature within Evernote too. To create a Table of Contents note that links to each section, you would select all the notes you want featured (using control or command + click) and then select the “Create Table of Contents Note” from the features.
Tip: Check out this article from the Evernote blog on how to Create a Table of Contents.
When a note is selected, you can choose to display the note info to find a bunch of useful data! Have you noticed that nifty little “i” button in the top right-hand corner? Click that and a pop-up will appear.
The Note Info allows you to change the title, tags, notebook, and URL for the note. It also tells you the size of the note and word count!
Premium users will also see a “History” button displayed. Clicking that will show a list of previous versions of the notes, which you can restore (as a separate note) to compare changes. It’s not quite as in-depth as the Track Changes in Word or Google Docs, but it is helpful if you accidentally delete something.
Email to Evernote
Every Evernote user is given an Evernote email address when they set up their account. Basic (or free) account holders get to try out the feature with 5 emails, while Plus and Premium account holders can send unlimited emails. You’ll find this email address under “Account Info.” Add this to your contacts in your email program as Evernote.
To send an email to Evernote, you address it to your Evernote email address. At the end of the subject line, if you add the commercial at symbol plus the name of the notebook you want it sent to, it will automatically be deposited there. You can also add a hashtag, which would add a tag to the note as well.
If you don’t designate a notebook, the email will go to your default notebook. If you followed my instructions on how to customize your Evernote sidebar, that would be your .Inbox.
This feature is really useful to help keep track of receipts that are emailed to you from online purchases. If you set up a Receipts notebook in your business stack you can then easily forward any receipts straight to that notebook. You’ll want to forward the email to your Evernote email address and add “@Receipts #2015” to the end to get it tagged and filed in the right place.
Back It Up
One morning last year I logged into Evernote and discovered that 90 percent% of my notes were gone. Just vanished into thin air! When I checked my .Process notebook, it was completely empty and I about lost it.
Then my common sense started to kick in. I logged into evernote.com and discovered that all my notes still existed on their server. Since I’m a premium member I was able to start a chat with a support representative who gave me directions on how to restore Evernote within 15 minutes.
But what if my notes had been missing at evernote.com too? What if I’d majorly screwed up (known to happen!) and had accidentally deleted all of my notebooks and then cleaned out the trash?
Don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to backup in case you screw up.
Although you can export/import one notebook at a time, that is not an option for me.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Here are some better alternatives:
1. Export All Notes
Click on the top level “Notebooks” link in your sidebar. Then select File > Export All Notes. You’ll want to make sure that the “Include tags for each note” checkbox is selected before you export.
Store this backup on your computer and also somewhere safe, like your Dropbox account. Then in dire circumstances, you could use the Import Notes feature to restore these notes.
This solution is free and easy, so long as you remember to do it! I recommend scheduling it in to your monthly maintenance tasks.
2. System-Wide Backups
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that your normal system-wide backups will also backup Evernote. I’m hoping against hope that you have a solid backup plan in place for the rest of your system. I highly recommend Backblaze as an inexpensive cloud-based solution. Read my review of Backblaze.
Your tasks are to:
- Drag a notebook to your Shortcuts bar.
- Check out the info of a note.
- Try emailing something directly to a notebook. (Bonus points for adding a tag!)
- Decide on a backup plan!
Now that you’ve set up an Evernote system, it’s time to make a commitment to yourself and your business to use it regularly. Make using Evernote a habit this year and you’ll be amazed at how much time you will save.
Since I’ve started using Evernote to organize my design business, project management has become so much easier for me. The more notes I create and systems I set up, the easier my online life becomes.
Thank you to everyone who has been following along with this series. If you’re just stumbling across this post, you can read the whole series or download the free e-book Designer Guide to Evernote: Secrets to a System that Works to access the free bonus materials and get started organizing your digital life today!