Information Overload to Overlord

Part 4 of a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!

The Challenge

There is more information generated in the U.S. in one day than any of us could digest in our lifetimes. And sometimes that’s what our inbox feels like. I’ve experienced that myself. I felt inundated by good or even great tips, hints, techniques, learnings, that I couldn’t keep up. I also got information from other sources: the web, pictures on my cell phone, etc. Note to mention my own ideas!

How do you organize all those different kinds of information? I tried Word documents, wiki pages, etc., and none of it was satisfactory. And then I tripped on the answer.

The Solution—Evernote

Evernote is amazing. It’s a program you install on your computer (Windows, Mac, iPhone, etc.) where you can put just about anything, and then organize it.

Get an email with a great marketing idea? Highlight the pertinent paragraph and click the “Add to Evernote” button. It will become an entry in your Evernote notebook (of which you can have several) that contains the header information of the email and the paragraph you just highlighted. You can then add tags of your own design (marketing, great idea, etc.). You can even click a link that will open the original email!

Same thing on the web: I’ve been doing home renovations and was having a challenge with the trim in one of the bedrooms. I found a GREAT online tutorial for installing trim. I highlighted the whole thing—pictures and all—and copied it into Evernote. It was saved perfectly, as well as a link to the web page where I found it.

Now comes the really valuable (ok, and fun) part: click into the search box and start typing. As you type, Evernote highlights words in every entry that match what you’re typing as you type it, and filters out any entries that don’t have that word! Thus, if you have 3,000 entries and only one with the word “didgeridoo,” probably by the time you type “didg” you’ll be looking at that one lone note. Evernote has indexed all of the information in your entries. Excellent!

Oh, but wait, cuz there’s something even cooler: I was shopping for doors for the closet in said bedroom. I took pictures with my cell phone of the signs with the prices. I came home and pasted them into Evernote. That picture has words in it, right? Evernote reads the text in pictures and indexes them, too! So, if I took six pictures of signs, I can just type the word “door” and it will filter down to include those entries. Or “pine,” etc.

If that weren’t enough, you can sync your notebook to your mobile device and have access to it there as well! As well as adding entries on your phone (pictures, words), and sync it back to your computer. You can also make notebooks public and sync them to the web. Then you can share them with friends or colleagues. You can do the same type of search on the web of entering words and filtering those entries that have them.

How else could you use Evernote? How about ideas for blog entries, marketing ideas, capturing whiteboards of meetings on your phone, having all of your ‘ideas’ available to you, both at home and at work, going paperless by taking pictures of all of those scraps and notes on your desk, organizing recipes, research, tracking books you want, gifts to by, and on and on.

And organizing them all with tags. Takes my breath away!

Evernote is officially in Beta, so you’ll need to “register” to try it. Don’t worry—it’s free.

Your Next Steps

  • Learn more about Evernote.
  • Go to Register to test Evernote Beta and get a response in a day or so.
  • Have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them in a future blog entry
  • Have other technology that makes your life easier? Please leave me a comment—I’d love to learn more tips and tricks, and may share it here in the future!

Next issue: schedule meetings with multiple people looking at multiple possible meeting dates and times…

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