Evernote Is At The Center Of My Digital Life

Evernote has been taking a beating lately. I’m not about to be an apologist for what their product has become (or not). I really like the story of how the company came to be. You can find plenty accounts of how it happened online. I recently listened to founder and now-ex-CEO, Phil Libin get interviewed by Tim Ferriss and this was one of the many things they covered. I have been paying for Evernote for several years because there just isn’t anything better out there. Even if there was, I’m not sure I could even migrate everything over. Simply put, Evernote is my life. The kicker… I almost never take notes in Evernote!

How I Started Using Evernote

The first note I made in Evernote was a screen grab of an illustration that I liked. It contained the tags “tattoos” and “illustration”. A lot of my early “notes” were just things I didn’t want to lose track of. It became a big drawer full of stuff that I could loosely organize by notebook and/or tag. I’ve long since abandoned notebooks, but I’ll talk more about that later.

The only scanner you will ever need.

My Use Of Evernote Changed Over Time

For a few years, all I did was clip and scan things into Evernote. In 2011 when IFTTT came along, it was a big game changer for me. All of the sudden I could leverage the API of nearly every social tool I used (eventually and even more so in 2015) and create what amounts to a backup of every single thing I post online. To put that in real world terms, every single time I tweet, every time I star someone else’s tweet, every time I post to tumblr, every photo I post to Instagram, everything I bookmark in Pinboard, everything I like in Instapaper — all of it gets stored in Evernote. That means it’s mine.

Popular Evernote Recipes on IFTTT

This Is How I Use Evernote Today

Late last year Thomas Honeyman wrote a post called “Using Evernote (the right way” and it blew my mind and changed everything about how I organize Evernote. He was inspired by Michael Hyatt’s post on the topic, which really sealed the deal for me. If I’m going to point to one thing in all this mind blowing it’s the idea that it’s all about the tags, not the notebooks. After reading both, I remember resting my face in the palms of my hands saying, “Of course!” Then I got started undoing a lot of bad habits and unhelpful hierarchies of information. My Evernote system had grown way too complex, but the good news was that I was tagging all along. The bad news is that I’ve been working on the revised organization for months and am not done.

A Few Words About Taking Notes

I mentioned in the beginning about the fact that the one thing I don’t really use Evernote for is notetaking. One reason is I try and take notes with pen and paper. I don’t always have a notebook and pen with me though. My iPhone is always with me and the Evernote application is just too slow when you compare it with something like Drafts or, more recently, Apple Notes. The note composition window in the Evernote application is distracting both for writing notes or composing posts like this one (which by the way I composed directly in Medium). iA Writer has been my go-to application for notetaking, though I’ve been playing with Atom lately as well. I just don’t want distractions of any kind while I’m writing or taking notes.

Right to left, Evernote, iA Writer and Apple Notes

I ❤️ my family, music and technology. I do customer experience stuff at Oura.

I ❤️ my family, music and technology. I do customer experience stuff at Oura.