After a brief courtship of basic note-taking, I discovered I’m in love with Evernote. When we first met, I thought she was a simple note-taking app, but after experiencing her many charms, I’m hooked. Learn why we Evernote faithful consider her our external brain giving us the ability to remember anything and access information anywhere. [pullquote align=”right” background=”on”]”Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them”[/pullquote]
Do you need an external brain? You bet! David Allen, father of Getting Things Done, remarked “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” Essentially, humans are much better at complex creativity than accurate recall. Tools like Evernote free your mind from tedious recall to focus on more creative ideas.
Is Evernote enough? To be an effective external brain, she must be able to capture everything, organize it and retrieve it efficiently. Despite my love affair with Evernote, I have found she needs a few “enhancements” to experience her full glory. If you are looking to deepen your relationship with Evernote, these tools may be just the spark you need.
Evernote Web Clipper
Built by the Evernote team, The Web Clipper takes capture of online information to new heights. It will grab webpages, PDFs, Gmail messages and more sending them directly to Evernote with notebook and tags of your choosing. You can even “simplify” the webpage to remove unwanted ads like Pocket, or annotate the note with powers similar to Evernote’s Skitch drawing app. Platforms: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer. Cost: Free.
Powerbot for Gmail
Powerbot integrates directly into Gmail and allows you to capture email messages, attachments or entire threads directly into Evernote. You can also retrieve and insert Evernote notes directly into Gmail messages while in your browser. Platforms: Chrome, Firefox, Safari. Use Outlook for email instead? They’re working on it. Cost: Free to $4/month.
As much as I try, paper creeps into my world from time to time. In the battle against clutter, I find a quality scanner is a must. ScanSnap scanners are not the cheapest, but they gobble up virtually anything and send it straight to Evernote with ease. They detect the difference between docs, receipts, photos and business cards and will file them in your designated notebooks. They even do double-sided scans and connect via wifi. Platforms: Mac, Windows. Cost: The Evernote Edition is $500 and comes with a year of Evernote Premium.
Not interested in scanning documents yourself? Shoeboxed will do it for you. Just pack your docs, receipts, business cards, etc. into their signature blue envelope and 3-5 days later your information shows up in Evernote categorized in the right notebook. Shoeboxed uses high accuracy scanning, OCR and human verification. Special Evernote promotions at www.Evernote.Shoeboxed.com. Cost: Free to $100/month.
Scanning at home is great, but what about in the field? While there are many scanner apps, a few taps in Drive’s mobile app can quickly capture a photo of a document, set its margins, convert it to pdf and save it to your desired Drive location. If that desired location is also an Evernote import folder, the PDF is automatically uploaded to the Evernote notebook of your choice and of course is searchable in Evernote and Drive. You can keep the PDF in both locations or have it automatically deleted from Drive once it’s uploaded to Evernote. Platforms: Android and WIndows-only feature for now. Cost: Free.
IFTTT and Zapier
Manually capturing information to Evernote is great, but doing it automatically is even better. These two services help Evernote connect with over 250 online apps which is great for both capture and retrieval. For capture, automatically send Paypal receipts, Tweets, RSS feeds, Craigslist posts and much more to Evernote for later review. Connect Google Calendar and automatically add your note-taking template to Evernote just before your meeting.
On the retrieval side, you can send Evernote Reminders to your favorite task app or Google Calendar. You can also create text files, wordpress posts, social posts, or simply alerts every time you create a note in a particular notebook. Each service allows you to browse use cases or create your own. Each takes about 5 minutes to set up and then runs in the background automatically. Platforms: All. Cost: IFTTT is free. Zapier has a free plan, but some apps require paid plans which start at $15/month.
Eventually, you’ll find that you take many similar notes (e.g. meeting minutes). Kustomnote allows you to add some structure and beauty by creating note templates with rich formatting and powerful form fields including data from Google Contacts and Google Calendar. If you ever want to print your notes, they will be beautiful and easy to follow. Platforms: Web, Android, iOS. Cost: Free to $4/month.
Once you start spending more time with Evernote, you’ll learn one of her great benefits around the house is storing user manuals, instructions, wifi passwords, assembly diagrams and other information used to keep the household functioning. Creating a QR or barcode for the note link makes for an easy way to go directly to the correct note. Print and stick the QR code on any household items and you’ll have related information at your fingertips. For example, just point your smartphone camera at the QR code on the back of your TV remote and your channel guide note appears. Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone. Cost: Free.
If you’re like me, you started with Evernote to boost your productivity, but still keep a dedicated task app to manage daily tasks (e.g. Google Tasks, Asana). Your notes may have checklists or todo items, but you must transfer them to your dedicated app or worse forget them entirely. What Zapier does with individual notes, now TaskClone does for those lists and todos within your notes. Just add a checkbox to an item in Evernote and TaskClone automatically extracts it and sends it to your favorite task app in seconds (40+ apps supported). No more duplicate entry and no more forgetting. You can also add items to Google Calendar, send to multiple task apps or convert the items to Tweets or Status Updates. Platforms: All Cost: Free to $16/year.
What “enhancements” do you use to spice up your relationship with Evernote? Let us know in the comments.
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