All Posts in Productivity
Get started using Evernote effectively with just a few small changes. These work for new or advanced users.
If you'd like more detail on any of these steps feel free to reach out or comment below.
1. Create your first notebook
* If you don't do any of the other four steps, be sure to check this one off the list. You'll be glad when you have bunch of notes.
Evernote comes with an default notebook called "My First Notebook". Go ahead and delete it or rename it to "Inbox".
The goal of this notebook is to give you a spot to capture all of your notes quickly then you can do the organizing in the future.
Once you've created your Inbox notebook, navigate to your preferences and set it as your default notebook. Here's Evernote's instructions on how to do that.
You can think of this notebook just like your email inbox—you want to keep it as close to zero notes as possible. Since I capture a ton of notes in Evernote, I have time scheduled every Friday morning to move notes from my inbox into their more fitting notebooks.
2. Create your first tag
Tags can get out of hand really quickly. To give some context, I've found it's helpful to think about tags by asking yourself these two questions.
- Will this tag be usable in many different notebooks? If not, the tag should probably be a notebook instead.
- What's my future self's use of this tag?
For the sake of a clear introduction, we'll just be creating one tag for now.
Create a new tag called "Action".
I use this tag so I can quickly remind myself when I need to do something with a note. It's universal, so it can be applied to a client note like a to-do list for example. It could also be applied to something personal like a reminder to get my oil changed, redeem a coupon online or a list for the next trip to the grocery store.
When I open Evernote, I can say "Show me all notes tagged with Action" and I'll see notes from within hundreds of different notebooks and stacks. One I complete a task, I just remove the Action tag from that note and move on.
3. Declutter the UI
The factory settings for the toolbar and sidebar aren't always useful the most beneficial. Take a couple minutes to see what options can be added and removed. Personally, I prefer a minimal approach. To edit either section, just right click.
Here's what my sidebar looks like
- Recent notes (5 most recent notes for quick access)
- Notes (can't remove this one)
- Notebooks (shows a list of all my notebooks)
- Recent Chats
Here's what my toolbar looks like
It's pretty straight forward, just removed a few items and moved my Account/Profile info to the far right—the most common location for account settings these days.
4. Check out IFTTT
IFTTT is a free web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called "recipes", which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. IFTTT is an abbreviation of "If This Then That".
— Thanks, Wikipedia
To summarize, IFTTT let's you automate stuff all over the internet. So you can make things happen in Evernote automatically without even opening Evernote.
A quick example: I use IFTTT + IFTTT's "Do Button" to save business receipts inside an Evernote notebook.
IFTTT deserves it's own (lengthy) article. I'm working on it and I'll share it soon. For now, I'd encourage you to create a free account and poke around a bit.
5. Get mobile
This one's easy, just download the mobile app for iOS or Android and take your notes everywhere you go. Besides being accessible everywhere, this is where Evernote really becomes powerful. When you snap a photo, your location will be stored and sortable later. "Show me all notes I took on vacation" will remind you about that big idea you had while hanging out on the beach.
Additionally, using your phone's camera to snap documents will create searchable text! So in six months when you get pulled over and need to show your insurance card—just search your Evernote for "insurance". <— actual use case from a few weeks ago
Have other ideas or questions? Let me know below or reach out, I'd love your feedback!
I've been using Boomerang for Gmail for a few years and it's great. Super reliable and definitely helps to manage communication expectations.
Today I saw the promo video for Boomerang Respondable.
Write Perfect Emails with Artificial Intelligence.
First and foremost, the video is outstanding. Nicely done, Baydin! 🙂
What is Respondable?
Respondable is a browser extension for Gmail to help you write better, more actionable emails in real time. Based on data from millions of messages, Respondable makes every email you send more effective.
I've installed the free version, which includes these real time metrics:
- Subject length — It recommends 2–6 words.
- Word count — It recommends 50–150.
- Question count — It recommends 1–5 questions.
- Reading level — It recommends 3rd grade.
Here's a sample rating while I'm typing a bogus message:
The concept is cool. Obviously, it's hit or miss depending on your audience but generally I could see this help people compose more effective emails. Maybe it'll prevent someone from emailing me with the subject: "website".
Nah, doubt it.
I suspect Baydin will be tweaking the algorithms over time, right now it's too easy to vastly sway the ratings by adding one more question, or removing a big (regular-sized(?)) word. But hey, it's guidance nonetheless.
Overall, I'm curious to see how it develops over time. I don't think I'm quite ready to upgrade to Pro for $15/mo. but I'll let it hang out for now. I could definitely see it becoming a bit of a distraction though but I'm okay with that—it's rare for me to compose emails in the browser anyway.
I'll give it a week or so and check back with more.
Give a shout if you have thoughts or questions!
Read more about it at Boomerang's website.
Ever wondered if you can store your Shazam music in Evernote? Yes, and it's pretty awesome. It'll take about 7 minutes to get up and running.
What you'll need to connect Shazam to Evernote:
- Shazam App for iPhone or Android
- Evernote Plus or Premium
(Don't want to pay for Evernote yet? Here's a free workaround using Gmail instead of Evernote)
If you don't have a paid Evernote membership, you can get started here for free with an optional upgrade - $35 annually.
Alright, assuming you're set with Evernote Plus or Premium, let's get started.
First, find your Evernote email address
It's a unique address you can use to save emails directly into Evernote, it looks something like this: firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll want to find the address and copy it, we'll use it for the next step.
To find your Evernote email address, go to your account settings:
Select Help > Account Settings.... Your email address appears in the 'Email Notes to' section.
iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch
Tap your username to access your account settings. Scroll down and select General > Evernote Email Address.
Click on Tools > Account Info. Your email address will appear next to 'Email notes to:'
Tap the 3-dots button in the upper right, select Settings > Account Info, and scroll down until you see your Evernote email address.
Click on your profile photo, the select 'Settings'. Your email address appears in the 'Email Notes to' section.
Next, create a new Contact in your phone
You can name this whatever you want, but "Evernote" seems sensible for this example. Create a contact and paste your Evernote email address as the primary email for the contact.
Lastly, sending from Shazam:
Step 1: Shazam some tunes
Step 2: Tap the Share button, then select Email
Step 3: Start typing the name of your new contact (Evern...) and select that contact.
Step 4: Click send
Head on back to Evernote and you'll see your newly Shazam'd tune saved as a note! It'll appear in whichever Notebook you've saved as default.
Where you go from here will depend on what you're trying to accomplish. Personally, I'll review my saved song notes about once a week. If I decide to buy something, I'll add the tag "purchased". The really great part about using Evernote to manage music is that you can add as much context to a note as you'd like. Sometimes it's easier to recall the name of the venue or train-spotee where you heard the song—typing a quick "Dave's 30th, grill out at the park" could save a ton of time later on.
Later, I'll walk through a similar process using a few other tools with Evernote.
Message or comment if you have any thoughts or questions!
Still don't have Evernote? Create a free account
Sunrise Calendar is a free calendar app made for Google Calendar, iCloud and Exchange. I'd first downloaded it and created an account in late 2014 when it was just a common, though refined, calendar interface.
To begin, I am in no way endorsed, supported by or in contact with the folks at Sunrise.
At some point around June of 2015 Sunrise introduced a new feature; the "Meet" button. This was also right around the time when I quit my job in order to start my own company. To skip ahead, the Meet button fixes a very fundamental problem—scheduling meetings with busy people.
While I was trying to build a client base I was spending a solid chunk of my time cold calling and responding to potential customers. Even once I had a lead identified, it could sometimes take a week or two before we could find a mutually agreeable time to meet. Multiply this by 5+ contacts per day, this equates to potentially months of time lost by email and back and fourth texts.
Here's what it does:
Sunrise's Meet allows you to propose multiple days / times to a person, and they can select whichever works best. An event is created, and you're done. As if that wasn't enough, the syncing happens so often that if you propose the same time to two different people, and one of them selects that time, the option will be removed from all other contacts.
It has support for both desktop and mobile (iOS & Android) and possibly to coolest part—it works from directly within text messages and email by use of a custom keyboard. I've been able to confirmed scheduled meeting, directly from a text message, within two minutes of tapping Send.
I've put some thought and basic math into how much time I've gained by scheduling meetings this way. I gain about six hours every month. That's almost a full working day to do—whatever I want. Usually, it doesn't consist of scheduling meetings.
Try it out!