Earlier this year, I blogged about my two screens and my general move toward an office that involved much less paper. One important component of my (mostly) digital office has been playing with various software tools that help me store research and avoid printing.
I started with the, now defunct, Google Notebook. I then moved to Microsoft’s One Note, which worked, but the organization didn’t satisfy me completely. And then a few years ago I moved to Evernote. I don’t use half of this app’s spiffy features, but I like knowing that there’s plenty more that I could do with it.
Why I already love Evernote
- It’s where I need it when I need it. I have an Android phone, an iPad, and a PC laptop. Evernote works equally well in all of these ecosystems, so I don’t have to worry about which device my stuff is stored on. (Microsoft’s OneNote recently released a free Mac/iPad version, which might be worth a look, too.)
- Evernote’s Clipper application makes it easy to clip articles or web pages and save them for later. I often tag them with key words or a publication if I’m working on a particular story. But searching my clipped notes often allows me to find exactly what I’m looking for later. There’s an easy extension for most web browsers, and I even found a handy hack that allows me to clip from Safari on my iPad.
- Create separate notebooks for different parts of your life. I have a separate recipe folder that I use for cooking, and Evernote conveniently sorted those into its related Evernote Food app for me when I installed that on my iPad. I keep to-do lists and shopping lists in another folder. For work, I keep story ideas in one folder and notes for ongoing projects in another. But because it’s all searchable, I can find what I’m looking for, even if I accidentally filed it in the wrong place.
Other cool features that I’d like to play with more
- In the Evenote mobile app, you can take photos that you’d like to save– there’s a mode for post-it notes, business cards, and for documents. Never misplace a post-it note again. And virtual rolodex? Sounds perfect. And Evernote allows you to search for text within photos and documents.
- I have a Livescribe pen, which I love for interviews and conference note-taking. I can easily send my recordings and notes to Evernote and have access to them wherever I go.
- Evernote also gives you the option of sharing notebooks with groups. I’ve never worked on a project with a whole team of Evernote fans, but I think it would be a terrific tool for sharing research and notes among a small team.
- For a visual project, such as a slideshow or a data graphic, it could be a great place for storing images and making notes. Everything would be searchable, and you could use the Skitch app to add quick sketches or notes to the images.
What are your favorite tools and tricks for clipping and organizing research? Please share with us in the comments.