Just last weekend my company, Maui Mastermind, hosted 120 of our top business coaching clients for a 3 day workshop on how to grow their businesses and gain more personal time freedom.
One of the sessions I taught there was on advanced tools and strategies to be more productive. In that session I shared how I’ve come to rely on Evernote to help me manage info load.
Based on the feedback I got, it was clear that the ideas and “hacks” were not common knowledge and made a difference. So here is a quick recap of the top 7 Evernote functions that I’ve come to rely on for you to start using yourself.
1. Write my notes by hand – import into Evernote with a photo.
As obvious as it sounds, I’ve seen first hand how non-intuitive this is, especially for business owners who are over 40. I need to take my notes by hand, it helps keep me focused and is a key reference that helps me follow up with my staff, hold my vendors accountable, and meet all my client promises.
But I also don’t want reams of papers filed away in manila folders, nor even to put them on my hard drive via a scan. Instead, after my meeting I simply take an immediate picture of my notes, name the file and tag it right then and there. I means all my key notes are accessible from anywhere, on any of my devices.
2. Drag and drop key documents into a new note.
When my staff creates a new business coaching checklist, I put it in Evernote. When my head of marketing sends me a score board of how our lead generation is doing, I drag and drop it into Evernote.
You can do this with PDFs, Word docs, excel spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations, audio files, photos, etc.
3. Add the Evernote “clipper” plug-in to my email program.
Now when I get an email I want to add to Evernote, I do it by clicking on button and the email message, along with any attachments, are automatically imported into my account.
I think you can see the theme here. I’m using Evernote as a single place to keep most of my core business “information” including notes, documents, charts, etc. While I don’t put sensitive information here (for that it stays on my encrypted hard drive with robust passwords) but everything else I want for later reference does go here. It gives me one place to search to find what I need.
4. Leverage Evernote’s amazing “search” function.
You can search tags, titles, body text, and even the text in a pdf document. Somehow it can even search my handwritten notes with a high success rate (and my writing is admittedly awful.) This is one of my favorite Evernote abilities.
5. Take a picture, store the information forever.
I mentioned above taking a picture of your notes to import them into Evernote versus scanning in the document and dragging the PDF into a new note. I also use pictures to bring in things like the serial numbers of an electronic device I own; the level and parking space I parked in; the condition of a rental car I take; the menu of my favorite restaurant; the flip chart pages generated at a team meeting; the ticket stubs to a concert or movie I want to remember; a business receipt for my expense report; and the list goes on.
Now I can toss the original and trust that the photo will be easy to find because I’ve named and tagged it in Evernote.
6. Get the webclipper plug in for your internet browser.
This works like the email plug in, allowing you to pull in the webpage you’re viewing in various formats with the single click of a button on your browser.
7. Make key notebooks accessible “offline”.
You have control to make some of the notebooks (think of a notebook in Evernote as a file folder of notes in one section) available offline (i.e. to store a local version on your device(s).)
I love this. When I’m on a plane and need a document or to review my notes, it’s there. When I don’t want to connect (and be tempted to check my email) I can still access key reference material.
You’d be surprised by how well Evernote compresses your files so that they take up very little functional space when you keep them local on your phone or tablet. And the next time you’re online, Evernote syncs up your latest changes.
There you have my 7 favorite Evernote functions. I hope they help you better manage your info load.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.