My Evernote Workflow

I’ve been using Evernote for a few months now. I wrote this post a few months back about how I used Evernote along with Simplenote. I’ve gotten a few questions on and Twitter about my Evernote workflow. Before I go through it, I want to say a couple of things.

  1. Evernote might not fit into your life.
  2. Evernote is not the place to store plain text notes that are crafted in perfect Markdown. I write in Markdown, but those notes get stored in Byword.
  3. Evernote can be anything you want it to be.

I have 3 ‘stacks’ in Evernote. Stacks are basically a way to nest notebooks for better organization. My stacks are: ‘BB’, ‘Out of School’, and ‘Personal’. These stacks are basically for work, my podcast, and personal stuff.

Let’s look at each stack individually. BB contains all of my work notes. I won’t go through each of the notebooks, but I’ll hit the highlights (and yes, you could do all of this with Dropbox and a text editor):

1:1 Project
I am working on a proposal to move our fifth grade to a 1:1 iPad Digital Learning Environment. Inside of this notebook are various notes on what books we currently use, app planning, vendor contacts, etc.

ACS is our financial system. I have various notes on troubleshooting tasks, PDF’s of our contracts, etc.

EPB is our ISP/Phone/TV provider. I have PDF copies of our contracts, TV jack installation prices, and their network information (our IP addresses, etc).

Phone System
I have PDF copies of our manuals, notes on common troubleshooting tasks for the end user, and login information for the voicemail system.

Renweb is the school management system that I oversee at work. I keep various manuals stored for easy access along with short notes for common troubleshooting tips and walk throughs (mainly for the reports section within Renweb).

Software Licenses
While I store my personal licenses in 1Password, I use Evernote to store liceneses for other employees. We’ve got quite a few people who have VMware, so I have a note with the serial numbers and who has it installed.

Evernote is invaluable when traveling. I use it to store hotel information, flight information, receipts, etc. I purge as the trip goes on (delete hotel confirmation when I check in, etc), so I am only left with receipts when I return to work.

The Out of School stack contain all things related to the podcast I do with Fraser Speirs. We keep track of our expenses and revenue by simply dropping PDF file in there. The show notes notebook is done to help us keep track of our topics. We have a note for each show which includes the outline, sponsor copy, etc. The Sponsorship Inquiry and Feedback Form are pretty nifty. We have comment and sponsor form on our website. We used to route that to our emails, but we would end up forwarding them into Evernote after they were processed. We decided to bypass our email. We used WordPress’ form tool and just simply routed them directly into that notebook using my Evernote email (check your Evernote settings) with @Feedback Form or @Sponsorship Inquiry in the subject so it would be routed into the right place.

The Personal stack is obviously quite a bit of personal items.

I keep information regarding maintenance, manuals, common troubleshooting (turning off oil change notification, etc).

I keep information regarding my home. This includes photos of paint colors, copies of warranties, etc.

This is where I plan to store the manuals for everything in my home. We are in the process of selling our home, so I haven’t finished this project.

Misc Personal
This is my grab bag for anything personal that does not warrant its own notebook. This includes: my bio, emails, Christmas list, etc.

Receipts I keep various receipts in this notebook for safe keeping. This includes the battery I just bought for one of our cars, the set top box I returned when we canceled cable, etc.

Evernote can be a lot of things. There is no single use for it. Do you want a reciepe database? Evernote can do that. Do you want a place to track quotes you read? Evernote can do that. Do you want a place to work on a project (PDF, text, pictures, etc)? Evernote can do that. Evernote does not do plain text. For all of us markdown nerds, this is a problem. I would probably dump every text editor I had if it did. Evernote allows you to store about anything and have it sync about anywhere. You can certainly do this with nvALT + Dropbox + iOS text editor, but Evernote brings in the seamless organization, collaboration (with a paid account), and a ‘just works’ database. Evernote can be a huge part of your workflow or a small part, but it certainly can fullfill a need for everyone. I still love Dropbox. I still use it every day, but Evernote is becoming more and more important in my day to day computing. Evernote is a readily accessible and editable file system for a multi device age. Will we move into an iCloud app centric world? We may, but I’ll ride Evernote until we get there.

In closing, what do I use Evernote for? I use Evernote to organize my life. It’s the set it and forget it of apps. I can put anything in it and trust that it’s going to be anywhere I can access Evernote.