Focus on Tech| Organize Your Ideas with Evernote

Take notes via text, photo, audio, file upload with Evernote-- sync and save on all of your devices.
While I love Moleskine journals, I have too many of them
strewn about my desk, bags, and workspace to make them productive.
At some point over the last semester, the inevitable finally happened—I gave up my dependence on paper. I think it had a lot to do with my recent travels and realizing that all of those little pieces of paper on which I had been jotting down notes, not to mention the collection of Moleskine journals I had strewn about my desk, car, and at the bottom of my various bags, were not effective in reminding me or prioritizing all of the information and ideas I tend to collect and organize. Add to that the million times I photographed, bookmarked, or emailed something, or took some random idea down on my desktop sticky tabs and wanted to find a way to integrate that into my idea or to-do pile. 

I have Evernote loaded on my Playbook, Blackberry Torch,
laptop and home/work computers. Evernote supports a variety
of platforms including Mac, PC, the iPad, iPhone,
and Android devices too.
Enter Evernote. Evernote is a super basic, but highly effective and powerful note-taking and gathering application that I discovered when I began playing around with my recently acquired Blackberry Playbook tablet (which by the way I adore!). It is an application that came highly recommended on a number of tablet forums, and to my surprise and delight I soon discovered the elegant simplicity of how it works. Once an account is created, Evernote allows you to gather notes through snapshot photographs, voice recordings, file uploads, or the old-fashioned text note through a cross-platform integration and syncing system that connects your  phone, home and work computers, laptop, and tablet. In other words, any note that you take on your phone, for example, will immediately become accessible on your home computer, laptop, or tablet. Even better, the application collects these files through a cloud system that allows you to access any notes you take via the web, allowing you to look at your notes on any computer with an Internet access at any time (like say on a university library computer). You are also provided with further options to tag, categorize, and search your notes. For example, I have a virtual notebook for academic project ideas, and another one for personal notes such as books I want to read (I now routinely take photo notes when I visit bookstores). See a tutorial on how to get started with Evernote here.

Evernote's web clipper is top notch
There is also a fantastic web clipper application that you can download on your desktop that allows you to save interesting things you find on the web without the hassle of bookmarks or tabbing. Simply click on the clipper icon in your web browser and the clipper takes a screen shot and attaches a link to the page as a note to your account. This allows you to clip and collect materials from the web in a far more intuitive way—no more need to search for that interesting article or idea through a long bookmark list or web history.

There really is an infinite range of possibilities for how you can utilize a tool like this. I noted on their website that Evernote is featuring a student-oriented application called StudyBlue which allows you to transform study materials gathered on Evernote into digital flashcards—a great idea for art history students studying a list of images for exams. You can check out all the additional downloads for the application here. In the end, the best feature of Evernote for me was the ability to access, organize, and categorize all of my notes in one place-- oh, and did I mention it is free?

In the coming months, I will be reviewing some other great time saving applications and techniques I have been incorporating into my digital world—I must say that I have a lot more space on my desk these days!