st1516: Let Evernote Help You Organize Your Life! [Podcast]

My favorite tool for organizing my life is Evernote.  On today’s episode I want to introduce you to this great cloud service and let you know how you can begin to organize your life, and for free.

Evernote is a cloud storage service which stores and indexes your digital files.  Think of it as a giant bucket in the cloud.  You upload web clips, or photos, or bills or other documents, and you have them available on any computer, and mobile device you own.

The strength is in the indexing.  Depending on the level of service you purchase, you can search by file names, tags, and notebooks.  If you save a photo that has text in it, you can also search by text in the photo.

So I basically scan all of my important files, I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac (PA03656-B005), not cheap but hands down the best desktop document scanner, and automatically scan those notes into Evernote.  Then, if that is all I do, I can search for the notes later on by typing words in the text.   If I want to get more organized, I give names to the files.  If I want to get even more customized, I give the notes a tag.  So for example, lets say I am remodeling the living room.  I create a tag called “livingroom remodel” and then I start gathering notes.  In the store I might take a photo of molding and maybe the price tag.  Then I tag the photos with my Evernote tag Livingroom Remodel.  Maybe I see some great ideas on line.  Right from the browser I use the Evernote clipping tool to save the portion of the webpage I want and tag it with Livingroom Remodel.  Lets say I get a business card from a contractor, I take a picture of the card or scan it and tag it.  Lets say I buy some paint for the remodel, I take a photo of the paint sticker so I can recall the color in years to come and I scan or snap a photo of the receipt and tag it also.  Now if I do this, in the future, I just look for the tag Livingroom Remodel. and all of the notes that had to do with this project come up.  I also throw away my receipts, clips, notes, because everything is in Evernote and my project clutter goes away.  I also have my business emails forward to Evernote so I can save all of those in one spot.  I have also scanned my legal documents.  Once I was at an event with my step son.  He needed an ID to get in but forgot his wallet.  I remembered I had scanned his Driver’s License at one point and called it up on my phone in about 60 seconds.  Crisis averted, they let him in.  I have lists of medications, tags for my trips, places reminders, store my favorite recipes, keep medical records and prescription info, have a photo of my printer cartridges so I know what to buy, clip web pages to read later, Make task lists with the built in task list maker, track expenses as easily as snapping a photo of a receipt, It even recognizes writing on different colored post it notes and will file them automatically by color.  Evernote is my digital brain!

So how much does this cost?  How does Free sound.  There are 3 levels of Evernote.

Free gets you up to 60mb of data uploads a month with a 25mb maximum note size.  If you are doing mostly text or JPEG photos, this is a lot of space.  You can search or OCR a photo.  You can store other format documents including PDF’s but you can not search inside those documents.  So the trick with this level, which I used for awhile, is to scan everything as a JPEG photo and create one note per photo, or enter text for your notes.  That way you’ll be able to search.  So even if I have a paper with typed text, I can it as a photo and this makes it searchable in the free version of Evernote.  For many, this will be plenty of flexibility

The Plus level of Evernote gets you 1GB a month of uploads and 50mb maximum size.,  for only 24.99 a year.  This is a lot of space and if you are happy with scanning JPEGs to upload, I would move to this if you ever run out of space in the free version.  You also get an Evernote email address to send emails to so you can actually create a note by sending an email to this address or forwarding an email to this address.

Evernote Premium costs $49.99 a year and it is the level of service I have.  Uploads are unlimited and the maximum note size is a whopping 200mb.  But the best part of this is I can save my notes and uploads as multipage PDF files and Evernote will OCR and index them so I if I have a 200 page report, it is one note and I can search on a phrase or word found anywhere in that document.  The same with Microsoft Office files including Word and Excel.  You can also annotate PDF’s scan business cards directly, turn notes into presentations and see previous versions of your notes.  I basically have 2 folders in my account, one for work and one for personal.  If I scan something at work it goes into the work folder automatically and if I scan something at home it goes into the home folder.  Then I tag the notes that I want to but I know when, not if, I get behind in my note tagging, Evernote will index them for me so I can do a search to find my notes fairly quickly.

If you decide to try Evernote out, even the free version, and I suggest you try the free version first to see if it is for you, please click on my Evernote Affliate Link < —This is it Signing up through this link helps SmartTech and doesn’t cost you a thing extra. Thanks.

If you want to see an example of how this might work in a workflow, click on our paperless office video tutorial.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Truthfairy

    Hey Chuck, great episode. You convinced me that I need a Scansnap in my life (the mobile and much less expensive one, of course. Only $110 on Amazon!). You totally deserved credit for opening my eyes to the super convenient process of directly scanning to Evernote, but as always, I forgot to click your Amazon banner before buying. Is there a way to replace my Amazon iPhone app with a link to your Amazon referral, so I can automate my support for your show? Thanks for all of your help!

    • That is a great question, so I figured it out. I will make a video in the future but for now…
      1. Click on this link on your phone:
      2. If you are on an iPhone, at the bottom of the screen is an icon with a square with an arrow on top of the square pointing up, click on that (it is the share button)
      3. find the button with a plus sign that says Add to Home Screen and press it.
      4. You will see an icon with the title next to it on one line and the web link on the second line. I renamed the top line “Amazon: SmartTech” and click on “Add”
      And there you’ve done it, you can click on that new button you created to purchase from Amazon instead of the Amazon app and your purchase will credit SmartTech. Thanks for asking!