I use Evernote every single day, for both myself and my many work ventures. This is how I keep it all together, and grow over time. I’ve been using EN for almost a year and a half now, and it’s become crucial for my everyday workflow. This blog post will show you how I personally use it, and hopefully you can either use these for your own workflow or repurpose the ideas for something more specific for you.
A note on what I do: I work for myself, so I have many hats. I do freelance design, I run both a successful food blog and Etsy shop, I run a food & writing magazine and share all of those tasks with just one other person. I keep up both a house and and a separate studio space. I have a lot to do, and EN helps me do that.
This isn't a "basics" post, because you can find out the very basics of EN all over the internet. Just a quick primer on Evernote, for those who have never tried it. Its basic layout consists of notebooks, notes, and tags. You can think of them just as you would their analog counterparts, just much more powerful. (Or you could think of them as folders & files, basically the same thing.) Two more helpful features that I use on a daily basis are my Evernote email address and the search function. Let me take you through it all, as it’s much easier to do by example.
(You can click on any of these images to see them larger.)
The inbox is the first place I look every day. I put basic & important tasks, such as completing open orders in my Etsy shop and wholesale accounts. I’ll put each item into a checkbox list so I can go to my stock and pull everything out at once.
The other super important thing that happens in the inbox is contributor proposals. This feature/use is what became a total game-changer for me (and my submission-based work.) On the Chickpea website, there’s a form for all of our potential contributors to fill out so I can go through them for future issues. All form submissions automatically get sent to my unique Evernote email address, which everyone gets with an Evernote account. From there, I tag it appropriately. (I liked this proposal for the summer issue, and I need to email her for further info.) Then it gets put in its respective folder (2014 summer.)
This is where I keep all of my upcoming/recurring projects. For example, the foodstuffs notebook keeps all of the info & tasks for Hipsterfood. In there, you’ll find future post ideas, a running list of what’s in our new studio pantry, what we still need to buy for the new studio, and more. Some of our posts are sponsored - using Boxer (or similar mail program integrated with Evernote) I can send company emails directly to Evernote to make sure I’m keeping things on schedule.
Another thing you’ll notice here is Reminders - I set up a reminder for each urgent/scheduled task, that way I won’t miss it. I also get the reminders sent to my email for every morning I have tasks to finish. I can see all of my reminders together, from all notebooks, in the Notes section.
This is the heart of my use of Evernote. Let me take you through what our upcoming issue looks like. First, I keep all of my contributors’ information in one note, using the Table feature.
- Their names, emails, and URLs - not only do they go in the mag and on our website, this is also helpful when I need to get in touch with them or find conversations we’re having.
- Article description - to give me a quick reminder of what story they’re doing. You’ll see that they’re all linked - that’s another great feature. By right-clicking any note, you can copy it’s system URL, which is helpful for making table of contents.
- I use checkboxes to see where everyone’s at with their articles. Helpful for when I have to double check for any missing content.
- Estimated number of pages they’ll take up. This is essential in budgeting on space for print.
- More checkboxes for the future, when I send them draft copies and they return with edits.
- Notes that are so helpful in bringing everything together.
I have a note with a huge checklist, which shows me every step that needs to be taken to get everything made, printed, shipped, and documented. I miss several of these steps each season without a list like this.
At the bottom, this is where I copy/paste all relevant website/promo text, table of contents, and all links used for promotion & sales. It makes things go much faster when I have a million people to email, several websites to update, etc.
A single article note. This is one of those automatically-sent notes that I talked about before. Now that it’s closer to this issue’s release, I’ve added in a checkbox list to show that this article has everything it needs. I’ve also tagged it “needs reply” - for each urgent task on that checklist, the note is tagged with that urgent task. You can see on the left (in the circle I drew) all of those tags. This is essential later when I’m putting an issue together; if I’m at a coffee shop lettering all day I can see what needs to be lettered, or if I’m contacting illustrators I can see all of the articles that still need artwork.
Later, each of these notes will also have their full article copy, plus an image or two. You can see that the full list of notes are titled in a specific way. Once I look at a proposal, I title it with its category and description. When I’m putting together a potential layout, I can see at a glance if I have too many recipes or too many long articles.
One last thing for the Chickpea section - potential artists. All proposals that are in the “art/photography” category go into this notebook. I title the note with the artist’s name, include a screenshot of their portfolio, and tag with their specifics. (They either get tagged in illustration or photography, and then get tagged with their work preferences - if we can use pre-made work or if they only work on commission.) They get contacted based on what we need (art or photo), what they need (commission or not), and how well their work fits the story in need of imagery. The “card” view is especially helpful for this notebook.
This is where I keep all of the articles, ebooks, PDFs, etc. that help me a lot. I only pick my very favorite, most helpful pieces of reading to go into my Evernote. These are things I can read over and over again and really sit and think about. I use the Web Clipper, and on my phone I use Everclip, to send articles to Evernote. It includes the original URL, too, so I can go back to the website and read more.
This is one of my catch-all sections, where I don’t go often but when I need it it’s so incredibly important that I have it. I should tell you that a short while ago I made it my mission to keep as many files off my computer as possible, and keep them on EN or Dropbox. I used to keep these in tucked away folders, so I could never find them or forgot about them. One of the best EN features is its search function. With EN Premium (which I have because I use it in every hour of my day) you can even search within PDF, Word, and other documents. Here’s what I keep for reference:
- Computer & Web - I keep all digital copies of manuals here, for my computer, printer, etc. Also included are keyboard shortcut guides, HTML snippets, instructions for certain websites, etc.
- Contacts - with EN Premium you can scan business cards with your phone and it automatically fills in any included info.
- Email templates - when you run your own business(es), you answer a mountain of emails every day. I keep commonly answered questions in separate notes. When I need a quick response, I just search what I need (ie. digital issue download troubleshooting) and get it sent.
- Evernote templates - remember that giant issue workflow checklist earlier? Or the checklists for each article? Those go here, all blank, that way I can easily copy & paste them, or duplicate them to a separate folder.
- Expenses - this is big for me in 2014! I’ve never kept good records of money, and I’m resolving to do so this year & on. All of my receipts, digital or paper, get put here. I use the EN camera in the iPhone app to snap all the receipts from the day, or use Boxer (or similar email app integrated w/ EN) to send the digital receipt over. Each note gets tagged with what kind of expense it is (for Chickpea, for a sponsor to reimburse, for my Etsy shop?) and titled with what it was for. This will be huge when tax season comes around.
- Paperwork - where all of my contracts, bulk mailing paperwork, and other important docs go.
It has a “Z” before it so it sorts to the bottom of my notebook list. This is where all of my archived content goes.
If I make a Hipsterfood post, I’ll often write it first in Evernote. After I post about it, it goes in the Recipe Archive notebook. That way, if I want to make it again later, it’s easy to search for it. Each note also gets tagged with what kind of meal it is, to keep it organized. (“RC” stands for recipe card :)) I can also use the Web Clipper to get recipes from other blogs that look good, and it shows the original URL so I know who it came from. I use it as a recipe book pretty successfully.
I also archive each issue notebook when the issue has completed/shipped. When I want to search for a specific contributor, I can search their name and see which issue(s) they’ve already been in, and what they made.
I use the tags “.email” and “.read” as sort of “to do” markers. I can quickly access them with the Shortcuts feature, along with .inbox, which is also another urgent marker. I use the period before so these important sections sort to the top of the list.
Keeping tags and titles consistent in wording is important. It keeps things organized and easy to find.
Other apps: I use Skitch to mark up PDFs on a pretty regular basis, as well as Noteshelf on the iPad. You can export Noteshelf pages to Evernote really easily. (Penultimate is the official EN sketchbook app, but it's not good.) I also use Clearly for reading web articles on my computer - it gets rid of all the ads, promotions, and other annoying stuff that gets in the way of reading.
I hope you found this informative or inspiring in some way! Using Evernote changed my life for the better - it keeps me organized, on schedule, and I don’t lose or forget much anymore.
You can get Evernote right here, and if you do you’ll get both you and me a month of free Evernote Premium. I’d say at least try it out for different problems you find yourself having - that’s how I started, and it’s grown into a total life-saver for my business.