As a creative, an unschooling parent, and an entrepreneur, it’s usually pretty safe to say I’ve got a lot going on. I spend a significant amount of time focusing on how to make myself, our business, our home, and our lives more effective and efficient. I have tried lists of all kinds, calendars, date books, journals, and several combinations of some or all of these, but I still felt that there could be an easier way.
Then, about a year ago, I found Evernote.
Their tagline? Remember everything.
Anyone who spends enough time around kids would likely agree: something about children steals brain cells. What I mean is...kids eat your brain. Before kids, I rarely forgot things, my life and work was well-managed, and I generally had my sh*t together. I was good. After kids, I began to start living my life jumping crisis to crisis. Snack time. Nap time. "He's hitting me!" "She's calling me names!" "Can I paint?"...all in the middle of important work thoughts.
Trying to work around kids brought me to a very important conclusion: To be productive, I needed a second brain. That seems far-fetched, but hear me out. I am a very analogue person... something about jotting a note with pen and paper leads to my most efficient workflow. But in order to be effective I need a way to organize all those notes.
That's where Evernote comes in.
I am organizing a "database of me".
Current projects? Got 'em.
Unschooling resources? Right here.
Family events? Check.
So what made me choose Evernote over other digital organization options?
There is a enormous pool of digital organization options to choose from online. There are apps, spreadsheets, software and templates...anything you can think of, you can find somewhere, I'm sure. Point is, there is no shortage. So what was it about Evernote that drew me in?
Evernote is a super easy-to-use, cloud-based note app that can pretty much handle whatever you throw at it. It is accessible on mobile or desktop, meaning it can go anywhere you go. It’s extremely versatile; not only can I use it across the spectrum of my daily activities and daydreams, but I can customize it to my little heart's content.
First things first... Some basic terminology.
Evernote is made up of 4 basic elements: Notes, Notebooks, Notebook Stacks, and Tags.
A note is a piece of information that you have recorded in Evernote. A note can be a webpage or article saved using the Web Clipper extension*, a photo, text, audio, file or any combination of these.
A notebook is a collection of notes. A stack is a grouping of notebooks, usually by subject matter (home, business, studying, etc.). Easy enough, right?
Tags are my favorite thing ever. Tagging a note with keywords makes it possible to search to find groupings of notes that have similar topics or content. This can really help you "level up" your organization.
If I search the tag "homeschooling", the search will bring up records of homeschooling activities (organized by kid), future project ideas, photos, curriculum and learning objectives, and more. Pretty awesome.
*The Web Clipper extension is the single most badass web tool I have come across yet. It's simple. You are on a page and you want to save that page, or some of the information on it, as a note in Evernote. Just click on the icon at the top of your browser window, select how you want to save the note (simplified article, full page, and screenshot are the ones I use most), pick the notebook you want to save it in, and add tags. Click save and POW! ... organization, for the win.
Ready to get started?
The sign up process is crazy easy, so don't make that your excuse for not doing this. If you are serious about getting organized, do it right now, as you read this.
I suggest stopping to do some brainstorming before you begin this process, and writing down the pieces of your life you are going to get organized, prioritizing these pieces and breaking them down. If you map out your organization strategy, implementing it will be much easier.
Once you have your plan all mapped out, you can start by creating notebooks and notes. I like to use notebooks for broad categories (Projects, Education, etc.) and tags to get more specific. That works for me, but remember that organization is mostly about creating a system that works well for you. After all, you will be the one who has to use it. Feel free to look up systems of organization, find one, and tweak it to your needs.
There is so much you can do with Evernote...so many ways it can help to manage your chaos and de-clutter your brain. Want to learn more? Sign up to make sure you don't miss upcoming posts!
What is something you need help organizing?
Share in the comments, and let's get Evernote working for you!