Gini Dietrich

Tips for Using Evernote Effectively

By: Gini Dietrich | December 27, 2012 | 

I’m taking a few days off to recharge before hitting it hard again next week. But in order to not go completely dark here, I took a look at some of the most popular blog posts of 2011. This blog post about Evernote was in the top five AND I have some things to add to it that will be helpful for you each month in 2013. It’s been revised and updated a bit. 

I love journals. I used to negotiate getting a journal scientists use when I got a promotion (they’re really expensive) or when I got a new job. I have every business journal and every Franklin Planner I’ve ever written – tasks, ideas, brainstorms, new business meetings, everything. I write it all down.

I also use my journals to create my to-do list. I draw a little box in the margin and that tells me it’s a task and not just a note. Then I get to go through my journal and check off the boxes as I finish the task. There is such great pleasure in that check mark!

But the one problem with a journal is I have to carry it everywhere with me. What happens if, like Mitch Joel expressed in his top business apps blog post earlier this week, I accidentally leave it on my desk?

Enter Evernote

Enter Evernote. I have it on my laptop, iPad, and iPhone (it’s available for every smart phone and both Mac and PC). And I take notes, create my to-do lists, create presentations, jot down ideas, capture a photo or image, and save files.

It syncs through the cloud (I love the cloud) and it’s available on any device I have in front of me at the time.

On your way to a meeting and you forgot your journal? No problem! It’s on your phone in Evernote!

On a flight and you realize your client folder is sitting on your desk? No problem! It’s on your laptop in Evernote!

Took notes at a new business meeting and lost your phone (it happens in Chicago cabs a lot)? No problem! It’s on Evernote!

Sold yet?

You can also clip articles and blog posts from the web and save in Evernote. It’s your journal, camera, audio notes, to-do list, and bookmark accounts all in one.

Get Evernote

All you have to do is download it, create a user name and password, and get to work. If you get in the habit of using it (instead of letting it just sit there), you’ll never miss an idea, note, or task again.

It is super efficient for note taking, journal writing, taking photos (I use it when I am relegated to the trainer and want to enter my stats in Training Peaks later), creating to-do lists, and never carrying around another notebook again (though I have to admit I still carry around a notebook for notes, quick thoughts, and brainstorming).

They continue to add new features, including Evernote Food, which launched two weeks ago.

Evernote Food helps you remember those great new restaurants to documenting how to make family recipes. If you’re a foodie (like me), it looks to be a pretty cool way to track all you love.

Want a month-by-month list of things to do in Evernote so, by this time next year, you’re a pro? Check out Work Smarter with Evernote over at Harvard Business Review. Alexandra Samuel provides one task per month to make it really easy to conquer.

Do you use Evernote? Are there ways you use it that aren’t mentioned here?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • lizscherer

    @howiegoldfarb There are a few clients who might receive never notes. I kid! I kid!

  • I LOVE Evernote. Love, love, LOVE! I am always encouraging others to use it. As with any tool similar to this (like my beloved Franklin Planner) you have to create a habit and force yourself to use it until you do. I find so many articles online and this is the best way I have found to document them.
    I’m also a big fan of lists (hence the love for my FP) and I love that you can make to-do lists complete with check boxes. I’ll have to explore that Evernote Food option and I’ll definitely check out the month-by-month list too.
    This post was a nice little Christmas gift, Gini. Thanks!

    • @kateupdates A Christmas gift post-Christmas! Can’t wait to share my cycling clothes with you!

  • TimPio

    Ha…yes, I’m one of those people that have downloaded Evernote onto my phone a while ago and has sat there.  I’m just getting started and I’m excited about its possibilities.  I have a strong feeling this could really help me.

    • @TimPio You should definitely try it Tim! This is one app that looks fairly simple, and yet once you start using it, you really couldn’t live without it. 🙂 Happy holidays!

    • @TimPio I thin it will. Check out the blog post for HBR that I link to in the post above. It gives you one thing to do every month so it’s not so overwhelming to get started.

  • Hi Gini,
    Hope you had fantastic holidays so far!!
    I love this post & I love Evernote for all the reasons you listed, and more.
    The developers are constantly making it richer, and its always been extremely reliable for me. I use it for everything from drafting blog posts, clipping blogs that I would like to reference later, notes in client meetings, offsite events and the best part is the integration with voice and photos.
    You can save voice recordings into your Evernote.
    I also love the fact that you can share your Evernotes with others. It’s incredibly versatile and sharable/collaborative.
    @Cspenn wrote a post not too long ago where he talked about Egretlist (another app that works with Evernote). That was one of my favorite “new” discoveries. (thanks Chris!)
    Basically once you get Egretlist working with Evernote, you can then use the checkbox in your Evernotes, and it will synch that into a todo list automatically. So you don’t even need to leave Evernote to create a “to do” list or “checklist” from within your meeting notes, or document.
    The other advantage I love is that it synchs with my calendar, so when i go to open a new note, it actually knows what meeting I am in and who I’m with and titles my note instantly.
    When I get an email, if there is an attachment, I usually open it/send to Evernote, then I create my notes around that from there (or add it to the checklists). Its a great way to pull everything together.  If you manage the tools well, and learn all about the different features, you can literally manage your whole operation from anywhere- as you said, making everything accessible anywhere, anytime.
    When people hand out documents at meetings, I just snap a picture into the Evernote, so I don’t have to walk around with paper, or search for relate documents later. Another awesome feature.
    Then of course there is the searchable nature of Evernote. Makes it super easy to find that info you are looking for, or when something was discussed (in relation to meeting notes). I have a lot of meetings, and projects. Sometimes I won’t remember where the idea originated – or when something was first discussed, the search has been invaluable for this.
    I manage a team of employees, and not only do I use Evernote for my presentatons, blog ideas, life/professional planning, random thoughts, or project planning, but I also use it to track my employees ideas/issues/discussions. Again, the searchable function and checklists keep things easy.
    Evernote is just one of the best tools out there. it doesn’t even matter if you are not a seasoned “notebook/plannner” person, you download this, and you’ll see right away, it’s awesome. Once you have it, you really can’t imagine living without it.
    Thanks for sharing the post Gini! This is definitely awesome info for anyone looking to get things moving in the new year in the right direction! If you haven’t checked out Egret list, that’s a fun add on too 🙂
    Thanks for all the awesome SPINSUCKS posts throughout the year, looking forward to the year ahead and wishing you the happiest, most inspired new year yet!

    • @Milaspage  Wow! This is a great testimonial for Evernote! I, too, use Egretlist, but have to admit I like BusyCal better for my to-do list. 
      Happy New Year to you, too!!

  • Guess what – I’m one of those guys that downloaded it…and it’s just sitting there. And I downloaded it because people like you gave testimonials to how much it keeps them organized.
    It involves a change in behavior, and I haven’t had time to consider it. I also do not use the Cloud yet, but I have a Mac, an iPad and an iPhone…so I’m an ideal candidate for using the Cloud.
    Perhaps in 2013?

    • @dbvickery I think you use the cloud without knowing it if you have all the Mac products.

  • Great “re-post,” Gini. I love Evernote, though I do wish they would incorporate the ability to write notes, as well (like Noteshelf or Notability). Of course, I guess it’s possible they have, and I just missed the memo…
    Still, I have one lingering question. Many folks have said that as good as Evernote is – and it is – Springpad is even better. I’ve used it, but not as extensively as Evernote so I don’t think I’ve really given it a fair shake. Thing is, I don’t want to start with Springpad just to toss it after a month or two and have to import/re-enter all of those notes in Evernote.
    So I’m interested to hear what you and other SpinSucks readers think about Springpad. I’m all ears!
    Thanks, everyone, and Happy New Year!

    • @RogerFriedensen I think they do…there is a new pen that lets you do it with a Moleskin. It came out right before the holidays. Now I have to remember the name of it.
      I don’t know Springpad. I’ll have to ask around.

      • @ginidietrich Thanks, Gini. Springpad is a much more visually appealing app (though Evernote is beginning to adapt to SP’s style), but it doesn’t integrate with as many other apps. It doesn’t allow you to write with a stylus directly into notes either, but you can sync with Dropbox, iTunes, etc. Based on what I’ve read, SP is focusing a good bit in the social direction (a la Pinterest) with a special emphasis on making sharing and following virtually effortless.
        I really just want to choose one and stick with it as right now I’m spread across Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive and Pocket. Not to mention SugarSync, Carbonite and Backupify for end-to-end protection and G-Queues, G Calendar and Cue for to-do lists, appointments and reminders. Oh yeah. There’s an external hard drive here plus I’m syncing between my MacBook, an iMac, iPad and iPhone.
        This is seriously getting out of hand…
        And considering I just wrote a blog post about how to make better decisions (, you’d think I’d know better!
        Thanks, Gini. I’ll be very interested to hear what you learn.
        Happy New Year

        • @RogerFriedensen OMG! You’re like the poster child for app ADD.

        • @ginidietrich Yeah? What are you going to do abo… oh look, a chicken!

  • Yeah, I have to admit I was a late-bloomer to Evernote. Kept hearing things about it but just didn’t pay any attention.
    Bad Bob!
    When I did finally dive into it, like everyone else I love it, and it’s been a lifesaver.
    For me, one of the best features is the copying from the web, a great replacement for bookmarking. I use it to categorize resources that before were almost impossible to find again. Now it’s a dream come true…

  • KWoodfieldMBA

    @bdorman264 @ginidietrich I can’t even figure out how to use it ineffectively…

  • “Little box in the margins…”
    Me too!

    • @chelpixie It provides a certain sense of accomplishment, doesn’t it?

  • Nelsoncsb0g


  • Hi Gini! Happy New Year! This was exactly the post I needed to read! I should take a picture of all my old notebooks, I just threw a bunch away ! Also the HBR article link is also perfect! XO

  • roschler

    Hello Gina,
    Do you or your readers ever wish they had a Siri-style natural language search interface for Evernote, one that can handle mixed logic searches and several other important searches Evernote can’t even do?  If so, I’d like to tell you about a free software app I created that is getting rave reviews from users and others.  I won’t mention the product name or post a link until you tell me it’s OK for obvious reasons.
    – Robert

  • annelizhannan

    Tips for Using Evernote Effectively via @SpinSucks RT @ginidietrich (ever true, your everywhere companion)

  • danperezfilms

    @brickdoc Not a big evernote user, just thought the post might be useful for those who are 🙂

  • HowieG

    I use it for some personal notes and like it. I just hate redundancy of effort. I love cloud redindancy but I have to look at the key board to type which means taking notes on paper then having to enter them in somewhere. This was my big beef with when I did direct sales. I used to have to call a lot of people and go places (pre-smart phones and sometimes pre-laptop) then re-enter everything including minutiae into the system. Drove me nuts.
    I guess I need to have belllindsay to retype my hand taken notes into the cloud. What are her off work hours?

    • belllindsay

      @HowieG I don’t come cheap.

  • patrickdaly16

    Great stuff, Gini! This is a great option for those that can’t always seem to keep it together – aka all of us.  Thanks!

  • IlonaShek

    @Steveology I think I will start working on it Tomorrow, the first day of the new year learning smth new. Happy new year:)

  • suzieperlsteinR

    @RebekahRadice have a wonderful new year
    Thanks for all you do.

    • RebekahRadice

      @suzieperlsteinR You too Suzie! It has been wonderful getting to know you this year!!

  • erica_g

    @polleydan Have been thinking about jumping on the @evernote bandwagon. Thanks for this timely-to-me post! @ginidietrich

    • polleydan

      @erica_g Do eet! @evernote @ginidietrich

      • erica_g

        @polleydan Eet’s been done! Now I just have to figure everything out 🙂 @evernote @ginidietrich

        • ginidietrich

          @erica_g Check out the blog post @awsamuel wrote for HBR. She breaks down Evernote each month for you

        • erica_g

          @ginidietrich @awsamuel Awesome, thanks! I also see there’s an #HBRChat about this in two hours. Best timing ever! 🙂

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