Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to School with Evernote

Image credit: https://evernote.com/evernote/

If you’ve never heard of Evernote, you need to crawl out from under your rock right now. I would’ve never thought an app could be so life changing until I tried Evernote for the first time. And best of all, it’s FREE! Yes, you read that right. And they said nothing good in life was free…

As a grad student, Evernote is a life saver. Big time. I have everything I could ever need stored right here and it’s just a click away if I need it.

Here are a few quotes from the Evernote website to give you a better idea of what Evernote does:
  • With Evernote, all of your notes, web clips, files and images are made available on every device and computer you use.
  • Save everything cool and exciting you see online and in the real world. Snap a photo, record some audio and save it.
  • Save entire webpages to your Evernote account with our nifty web clipper browser extensions. You get the whole page: text, images and links.
  • Collect information from anywhere into a single place. From text notes to web pages to files to snapshots, everything is always at your fingertips.
  • Share your notes and collaborate on projects with friends, colleagues and classmates.
  • Keep all of your itineraries, confirmations, scanned travel documents, maps, and plans in Evernote, so you’ll have them when you need them.

And here are a few ways I use Evernote on a daily basis both personally and as a student:

Daily and Weekly To-Do Lists - all in one place and accessible on every device I own. Everything from my iPhone to my work computer are all connected through Evernote. And, if I’m not on one of my own devices, I can just log into my account online and everything is there, too. Way better than trying to remember a grocery list off a piece of paper you left at home.

Yearly Goals - Every year I set goals for myself and I use Evernote to keep track of my progress throughout the year. By far my favorite tool in Evernote is the check box list. You start out by making a bulleted list with blank check boxes instead of bullet points, and as you finish certain tasks you can cross them off your list by clicking in the check box! My OCD, list-loving self is definitely in love with this feature! I may or may not get a little carried away adding things to my list just so I can check them off…

Important Documents and Logins - Because Evernote is everywhere, I love that I can keep important documents here for access anywhere. Forgot your login to pay your electric bill? No problem, Evernote has you covered! On the road and need an insurance account number? Got that too! It’s a great tool to help declutter your multiple paper stacks. Always keep the originals of really important documents (like birth certificates and social security cards), but most everything else can be stored on Evernote. If you’re worried about security, you can always log yourself in and out of the app every time, or passcode lock it with their upgraded system, Evernote Premium. You’ll have to pay for the upgrade, but it may be worth your peace of mind.

Class Notes and Deadlines - I used Evernote all through college, but didn’t really take full advantage of it until my last two years. And boy do I wish I had started sooner! Evernote has a system to help you organize your notes, which is extremely helpful, especially in a class setting. Here’s how it works, from biggest (like a document folder) to smallest (way more detailed than a Word document):
  • The largest feature is called a "Notebook Stack”. This is a generalized “folder" under which you can put other “documents”. For example, some of my college Notebook Stacks are: "NAU Fall 2012" and "USC Fall 2014" (two different colleges and semesters).
  • Next, you have the “Notebook”. This is more specific than the Notebook Stack. You can create a Notebook without putting it under a Notebook Stack, however. Under “USC Fall 2014” I have the following notebooks: “BIO 711 - Nucleic Acids”, “BIO 717 - Biological Chemistry”, and “Research”. These represent my individual classes or projects for that semester. I also have a few random notebooks like “Cool Ideas” that do not belong to a Notebook Stack.
  • The next level of organization is the “Note”. Each notebook can contain an infinite amount of notes. For my individual classes, I like to make a note for each day of lecture and/or lab so I can keep track of when/where the note was written. Also, if someone from my class misses a particular day, I can easily find the day of notes they need.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, is the “Tag”. It’s just like it sounds. You can tag a note with keywords to help you find it later amongst your sea of class notes. The search function in Evernote is amazing. It will search through tags, the actual note itself, and even wording in images you have uploaded (great for PDFs!).
  • Another feature of Evernote that makes it great for class is that it links with so many other apps. My favorite is Penultimate. This is a drawing app that allows you to create a similar hierarchal organization system and it even uploads your drawings straight into Evernote. This was a life saver in a few of my classes where the teacher would draw things out on the board. You can’t exactly type those. So I utilized the Penultimate app paired with an iPad to draw those diagrams and then upload them into the same note with the rest of my class notes from that day (it uploads as an image you can copy and paste). Pretty sweet, huh?!?

Blog Posts - Every blog post you see here was written in Evernote then copied and pasted into Blogger. This allows me to write posts in advance, proofread them, then upload them into Blogger when I’m ready to do last-minute edits and add in pictures and links. Each blog post is given its own note and titled with the date I plan to publish it along with the title of the blog post, making it even easier to keep track of my posts.

If you plan on uploading and creating a few hundred notes a month, you might want to consider Evernote Premium. Otherwise, stick with the free version. You get just as many cool features, it’s free, and you will probably never hit your monthly upload limit. I have yet to go over a quarter of my limit and I use Evernote daily. If you’re tired of me telling you how great it is and you just want to check it out for yourself, then click here.

*This is not a sponsored post. I really just love this product and want to tell other people about it! 

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