Evernote is a pretty powerful app that you can use in many ways on both the personal and business fronts. Simply put, Evernote can help you remember everything — but it can do much more.
But, before you jump down to see exactly what you can do, I would suggest that you pick one or two tips to try. That way, you won’t get overwhelmed and give up before you get started. So, be strategic about which tip you’ll test first.
Btw, there’s a free version of Evernote (referral link) so you won’t have to come out of pocket to give a few features a try.
Easy and Productive Evernote Tips
Whether you’re just getting started using Evernote or have been looking for more productive ways to integrate it into your routine, check out the 10 easy-to-use Evernote tips below.
1. Remember the stuff you always forget
Use Evernote to collect things you use often, you know, the stuff that’s on the tip of your mind that often seems to slip out.
- Phone numbers and addresses
- HTML code (I do this!)
- E-mail templates
- Any content you want to tweet/post/share/read again
Did you know that you can also use Evernote as a tickler file so that your daily tasks don’t slip through the cracks?
2. Remember stuff when you’re “on the go”
While you’re out and about, use Evernote to capture information you don’t want to forget by taking a picture of them.
- Your parking space (floor and space number)
- Train map
- Conference agenda
- Flyer or business card on a bulletin board
- Checklist of things you need do while you’re out and about (see #4 to find out how to create a checklist)
3. Collect your brain sparks
Sometimes your brain comes up with clever and innovative ideas. Don’t lose them! Evernote can help you collect all the stuff in your head. All of it.
- Brain or idea dumps
- Images (or image links) for your blog posts or other projects
- Hand-drawn mind map (just take picture of it)
- Handwritten notes
- Audio notes or reminders
4. Save time with templates
No matter what type of note you need to create, there’s probably an Evernote template for it. Using a template will save you time so that you won’t have to create forms from scratch, especially for the ones that you use often (e.g., meeting notes).
Here are some Evernote templates you might want to check out:
5. Manage projects
Use Evernote to track tasks related to your projects.
- Create project task lists (insert checkboxes) to keep track of actions you need to take.
- Use reminders to alert you of task deadlines (scroll down to the bottom of this post to see how it works).
- Use the Web Clipper to collect and/or share research findings.
- Group project tasks by category or milestone (create Stacks and nest related notebooks, like “Book Launch” or “New Website” <specific notebooks> under “Business Projects” <heading>).
6. Manage your pieces of paper
Love taking notes on paper? Are you enamored with sticky notes? Want to keep a sketch or mockup for future reference even if you don’t have your paper with you?
- Snap a picture of your handwritten notes (they’ll be searchable!), sticky notes, and drawings and toss the paper.
- Use the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine (affiliate link) to take notes and take photos of pages you want to send to Evernote (the pages are designed to be used specifically with Evernote and, of course, your notes will be searchable and shareable).
Click here to learn more about these smart notebooks.
7. Share your notes
Drop things in Evernote that you want to share with people on your team or your inner circle. You can share via Work Chat, ecial med-mail, or soia.
Here are some examples of creating and sharing content in Evernote. You can create a notebook for:
- Client work. Give each client access to their files and documents in a specific notebook as you work together.
- Special projects. Create a notebook for each special project and share it with colleagues who are also working on that project.
- “Parking Lot” ideas. Business ideas or services may come up that you’re not ready to work on yet. Put them in the “parking lot” and once an idea is approved, move it out of the “parking lot” and share it with relevant team members.
On the personal side, you can share your favorite recipes with friends and family or your teammate who’s in charge of the next office potluck lunch.
8. Present your notes
Not a fan of slide decks? Maybe you just don’t want to transfer your notes in Evernote to slides (who can blame you?). That’s okay. You don’t have to. Instead, use the presentation feature for your next team meeting or speaking gig.
Btw, if you’re interested in trying out this feature, you’ll have to pull out your wallet for the Evernote Premium (currently $7.99/month) or Evernote Business (currently $14.99/user/month). Compare plans.
9. Keep in touch*
If you tend to get a lot of business cards, use Evernote Hello to scan them (Premium feature) and return the card to the owner or throw it in your recycle bin.
10. Save important e-mails (Gmail)
I’ve already mentioned that you can use the Web Clipper to clip and store the data you find on the web. Did you know that you can use it to save e-mails?
Grab the messages that you don’t want “lose” in your inbox. Perhaps it’s an e-mail thread between you and the colleague you’re collaborating with. Or, maybe it’s your back and forth messages with a book publisher. Or, the action steps you sent your accountability partner.
Yeah, Evernote’s got you covered.
11. Search for anything
One of the best things about Evernote IMHO is the powerful search feature. Not only will it save you a bit of time (no more endless sifting through files), you can even search for text inside:
- Images (even images of handwritten notes!)
- PDFs *
- Office documents*
- iWork documents*
You can also use Evernote’s advanced syntax search to drill down to precisely what you’re trying to find. How’s that for smarter, quicker searches?
*Premium and Business accounts only. Note: Evernote Business has all the features of the Premium plan and includes more options specifically for teams. Use my Evernote referral link to see and compare all the plans.
Bonus Evernote Tips!
Here are a few more Evernote tips (for a total of 15!) that will make the app easy for you:
12. Organize your notes
You can add a bit of customization to Evernote. Here are two easy ways to structure your notes so that they make sense to you.
- Float notes to the top of the notes pile. Keep your eye on your most used notebook by putting the “@” sign in front of your notebook name so that it jumps to the top of your Notebooks list. You can also use other special characters or a period. Examples: “%ProjectX,” “@NewPodcast,” or “.Blog”
- Use tags to organize related content. Tag notes to group similar topics together. For instance, you might have a notebook named “Blog Posts” that includes individual notes with the titles of each of your posts. Then, you could use tags to identify the related categories.
Here are some examples from the D. Allison Lee blog:
Notebook name: Blog Posts
- 10 Marketing Experts to Follow on Twitter <tag: social media>
- Create a Blogging Guide for Your Small Business Blog <tag: blogging>
- 10 Business Travel Apps to Keep You Organized <tag: apps>
- How to Create a Tickler File Using Evernote <tag: apps>
Another benefit of grouping like topics together is that they’ll be easier to find. Simply search by tag.
13. Drag and drop files into Evernote
If you want to add a file to Evernote, you can quickly drag and drop files into a notebook from your desktop (Mac and Windows). Easy peasy!
14. Create a table of contents
This is one of my favorite Evernote tips. If you have several notes that are related to each other (e.g., travel plans, special project), you can create a table of contents to make them easier to find. You can easily do this by merging notes and then selecting “Create Table of Contents Note” from the menu.
Image credit: Evernote
15. Set reminders
One of the most helpful features is the ability to set reminders. If important tasks fall from your memory bank from time to time, this will come in handy.
When you enable the reminder for a specific note, you’ll get an in-app alert or you can have an e-mail sent to your inbox on the day that the reminder is due.
Okay, that’s all for today. Don’t worry, though. Evernote is one of my favorite apps, so I’ll be back with more ways you can use it effectively.
Now, over to you. What are your easy tips for using Evernote to stay productive? Please share in the comments below.
This post was written in July 2013 and updated in July 2017. And again in July 2020 and February 2021.