Evernote for Beginners: Evernote for iPhone

Four Unique Features of Your Mobile Experience

Now that we have taken a good look at Evernote from a desktop experience, let’s dig in to the mobile experience starting with the iPhone. Many of the primary features are the same, just with different navigation. The mobile experience brings a few additional features only possible on a phone or tablet.

Evernote 01

Coming from a desktop experience, the features you will recognize immediately are:

But Evernote does not just give you the bare bones experience. The mobile application is very robust. Others features that are available which we haven’t reviewed on this blog yet are:

  • Work chat
  • Sharing
  • Presentation mode
  • Duplicating a note
  • Simplifying format

Four features unique to the iPhone version are:

Quick Notes

The Evernote app allows you to quickly create a specific type of note with one click. The options available are text, photos, reminders, and a list.
These are along the top row of your app, and in the widget area if you enable it.


One of the more obvious advantages of the mobile app is the ability to snap a picture – an actual photo or a picture of a document or business card.
You can take several for one note or create a new note for each photo. Michael Hyatt gives some ideas of what you might want to snap a picture of.

Voice Recording (and Voice to Text)

Although these features are available in the desktop experience, you will need extra equipment to get it to work depending on your hardware. The phone has everything built in to make this a very convenient feature to use.
To use either feature, create a new text note. Record your voice for audible playback, by clicking the microphone that is part of Evernote’s formatting bar. To convert voice to text, click the microphone on the iPhone keyboard.

Anywhere and Everywhere

And if the ability to take a photo is the obvious advantage, then the ability to pull up your notes any time any place is the less obvious advantage.
Evernote on my phone has saved me (and maybe a tree or two) in more than one situation. It’s like Google for information that is personal to me.

Question: Do you use Evernote for iPhone? If so, what is your favorite feature? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Productivity Tip #10: Redeem Your Commute

PT10-Redeem Your Commute

The majority of us will spend time each day commuting. To work, to school, to the grocery store. And back. Commuting doesn’t always require 100% of our mental capacity, so it is possible to include another activity without crossing into multitasking.

And whether you’re driving or you’re a passenger on public transit you can add value to a sometimes meaningless or frustrating event. Rather than automatically going for music or the news, branch out once in a while.

Here is a list of things that could add value to your commute:

  1. Listen to a podcast
    The options are almost limitless. There’s something on every topic, but I personally focus on entrepreneurial, spiritual, or educational topics. Some of my favorites are This is Your Life by Michael Hyatt, The Chalene Show by Chalene Johnson, The Productivity Show by Asian Efficiency, Ask Pastor John by Desiring God, $mart Passive Income by Pat Flynn, Art of Manliness by Brett McKay, Blue Ridge Bible Church. And no, I do not try to keep up with all of these. I only download one when I know have time to listen.
  2. Listen to an audio book
    My Christmas gift in 2014 was a year’s subscription to Audible.com. A new book each month means something to look forward to on the road each day.
  3. Listen to silence
    Sometimes you just need to turn off all the noise. You think a lot of things and need some time to process. You can just talk out loud. People think you’re crazy anyway! If you have a smartphone, you can even record your thoughts to review in the future.
  4. Practice your vocal exercises
    For the first 15 minutes of my morning commute, I practice my vocal exercises to get warmed up for the day!
  5. Practice reciting something from memory
    Does anyone else think this is a bit of a lost art? Not only is it a great mental exercise, it has value and meaning for other areas of life. I like memorizing Scripture. Other options are poems, proverbs, and quotes.
  6. Make a phone call
    If you have several moments of uninterrupted solitude, maybe its a good time for a phone call.
  7. Strike up a conversation
    If you’re using public transportation, you can break the monotony by striking up a conversation. People like to talk about themselves, so ask questions!

Of course, if you’re driving, use the obvious caution and forethought required to be safe. Prepare everything beforehand so you can keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Question: What is your favorite way to redeem your commute? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Don’t Drop the Ball: Friends

Why Your Relationships Need Your Availability

Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.
― James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas


You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I have my own office at work now. It’s a pretty nice office. It has a window to see outside and a door that can shut out all noise and distraction. I can keep it neat and tidy to my heart’s content. I’ve set up things to be as efficient as possible. My office is off the beaten path, though, at the end of a hall that only my closest office neighbors ever walk by.

Before the beginning of the year, my role was primarily to support others. I had more than enough opportunity to interact with people on a daily basis. After the beginning of the year, my role changed and I discovered that I had to be much more intentional about making time for others. Coworkers had less reason to actively seek me. Maybe even reason to avoid me because I usually came bearing another request or task! But to fulfill my new role I had to get out of my forest – my comfort zone in my office – and go to them.


Friendship is an area I have struggled with from the moment I realized that relationships were difficult, life was messy, and “alone” generally meant peace, efficiency, and freedom. As an introvert, I seek out quiet time to read or, more accurately, to organize my reading materials. And yet, I have an intense desire to belong. I feel jealous when I see a close groups of friends that have been together since their early days.

Work is not the enemy or the opposite of friendship. It is possible though, that the product or results of work can be mis-prioritized as the most important thing. If you’re an achiever, you really like to accomplish things. You love to check things off the list and then go for more. You love to find ways to be more efficient so you can achieve even more.

But relationships are not checklist material. Relationships cannot be handled with efficiency. In fact, if we’re talking about enemies, efficiency is a hostile environment for relationships.

Time is not the only thing that relationships need, but it is vital to the success of friendship. And for us to give time to friendship, we must take time from somewhere else. That time may need to come from work time. Or “productive” time. Or “quiet, leave me alone” time.


Bob Goff talks about how love is communicated through availability. Love is more than a feeling. It requires action, which means it requires time. And it usually has it’s own timeline, which means we need to remain available for when opportunity comes knocking.

In one sense, friendship is like icing. It turns that boring muffin life into a cupcake. But honestly, friendship is not as dispensable as icing. It is more integral to a whole life. It’s foundational. And it is fragile – just like family, health, and integrity. It takes a lot of effort to create and maintain. But it adds so much value to life.

Do you need to give some attention to friendships?

Question: What value have you seen in maintaining friendships even when it is difficult? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Evernote for Beginners: Email to Evernote

How to Adapt to Change

If you ever found yourself thinking “Email directly to Evernote? Why, that’s a service I would pay for!” Well, now you can. Pay that is. And perhaps you should.

Elephant Change

Just as a preface, I’m not affiliated with Evernote. I receive no compensation or benefits directly from the company apart from my paid subscription. I’m just a happy, long-time, paying customer. If anything I say sounds like a defense of Evernote, it is more a statement in defense of businesses, in general, that have the right to charge for a product.

Evernote has announced some big changes recently. They have a new CEO. And they have new service and pricing structures. Change is uncomfortable. But it’s a risk that any company must take.

Change can be uncomfortable for customers too.

Email to Evernote had previously been a free-to-use feature. In fact, almost everything Evernote was a free-to-use feature. There were very few compelling “I’ve got to have that” features available in the one-and-only paid plan. Despite that, after a year, I found some usefulness in the premium features and I also wanted to support a company that was supporting me. So I became a premium user.

There are now three plans – Basic (free), Plus, and Premium. Some say that Evernote messed with the wrong feature when they decided to place email into the Plus plan. Evernote made a choice, and it was probably a difficult one. Risking the loyalty of users, they decided to charge for something that we had been accustomed to using for free.

I think of it like being on a eight year trial plan. Companies typically only give you only a month to use features for free. Evernote gave eight years! That’s quite a deal.

The Plus plan, as of this writing, is only $2.99/mo or $24.99 if paying for a year up front (working out to be $2.08/mo). If you depend on Evernote, and it (specifically the email feature) is integrated into your life, business, and workflows, then I believe it is worth the cost.

Just as a comparison, Spotify charges $9.99/mo for a premium plan so you can rent music. I love music. But I choose first to spend my money on what I have found valuable in achieving my goals. It’s not necessarily a matter of right or wrong at that point. It’s just a matter of values.

As far as using the email to Evernote feature, it is actually very simple.

  1. You get your own email address (like MrCool12397@m.evernote.com) associated with your account.
  2. You can send any email (or have emails directed) to that email address.
  3. Evernote creates a new note from the email.

You can get very fancy with it – adding it to workflows, typing special characters in the subject to designate tags, notebooks, and reminders. Those are all advanced features that I won’t go over since this is “A Beginner’s Guide to Evernote.” For more specifics about using the Email to Evernote feature, see Evernote’s article How to save email into Evernote.

However, I do want to share a couple alternatives to this feature for the free users. These are not perfect replacements for the feature, but they may work for the casual user.

Option 1: Gmail + Web Clipper

This is my recommended solution. It may work with other online email platforms, but I specifically tested with Gmail and confirmed it works.

  1. Open an email in Gmail
  2. Open Evernote Web Clipper
  3. Select the “Email” option
  4. Click Save

It creates a nice looking note that captures the email perfectly. This was actually faster and cleaner than sending an email to my Evernote address.

Option 2: IFTTT + Evernote

This solution is more advanced and I didn’t find it particularly useful, but I did test it to determine if it was an option. You’ll need (1) an IFTTT account with (2) both your email account (Gmail or Outlook Office 365) and Evernote account registered as a “Channel”.

The formatting looks good for Office 365 email, but your only options are (1) all new email, (2) email from a specific contact, or (3) email marked as important. Gmail has some other options available (starred or labeled mail), but it only supports basic text formatting (it excludes any text that is html… which is most email text these days).

It’s possible…

You can influence a company like Evernote to change their mind about the feature. Customers have been very vocal, especially through Social Media, in getting companies to reconsider their recent changes. But if you choose to be vocal, I encourage you to be honest in a way that is positive and supportive – looking for solutions rather than complaining.

Question: Have you ever written to a company to get them to change something? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Productivity Tip #9: Shake It Up

PT09-Shake It Up

Do you ever find yourself bored, tired when you shouldn’t be, unmotivated, feeling uncreative, stuck on the same problem for hours?

You’ve hit a wall but you need to have a breakthrough. What do you do?

Shake it up!

Do something different. Maybe a little even off-the-wall.
Step away from the work. It’s ok, it will be there when you get back.

Do sprints, a hand-stand, cart-wheels, pushups, jumping-jacks. Take a nap, dig in the garden, chase a goose!

The options are limitless. Just don’t injure yourself or break the law!

Question: What is a quick refreshing activity that helps you break through the wall? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Don’t Drop the Ball: Integrity

Two Changes in Mindset to Help Hold On to Integrity

Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.
― James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

photo courtesy of unsplash.com

photo courtesy of unsplash.com

If you had the opportunity to get ahead in life – earn more money, get out of an uncomfortable situation, or gain a position of influence… and all you had to do was tell a little lie, would you do it?

We’ve all been presented with the temptation. It could be as simple as taking office supplies for personal use. It could be as innocent as embellishing about a run-in you had with someone famous. It could be as misleading as covering up an honest mistake. Or it could be as incriminating as fudging the numbers in the accounting records.

Losing Out

We have chances to sacrifice our integrity to gain and gain quickly. Or we have chances to preserve integrity and lose out. But is it really losing out?

The temptations are real. Sometimes they come as a directive from a superior – “Do this so it will save the department face; do that so it gives the company a competitive advantage. No one else on the outside will ever know. It’s just a shortcut to wherever we were going anyway. We can go back and make it legitimate after the fact. Everyone else does the same thing anyway. We’ll just be beating them at their own game.”

These same opportunities are just as common at home and when dealing with families. From meal portions to tax refunds to school grades. We face a constant flow of opportunities to speed our way to success.

The Proverbs have a few things to say about this.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. – Proverbs 13:11

Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. – Proverbs 28:18

Integrity is a matter of remaining whole. Coming out with character in tact. It’s abiding by laws and principles that are timeless.

We can do our best to thwart the principles and dodge the laws. And it may look like success. It may look like we’ve won the lottery. But we’re standing in our sand castle at the edge of the ocean. The tide will come in. The rise may be fast, but so will be the fall.

Living by integrity may appear that you’re always a few steps behind. But your successes will be built on a solid foundation.

So when work threatens to impose on your integrity, is it better to role the dice on your integrity or on your work? Integrity is made of glass whereas work is made of rubber. The choice is obvious. But it’s hard to say no to a good opportunity or a boss.

I believe there are two key mindsets you need when it comes to battling the temptation to risk your integrity for quick gain or avoiding pain.


The example I look to is David from the Bible. He had many opportunities to rise quickly to his rightful position as king over Israel, but he chose integrity. He chose to wait patiently. He chose to trust God’s timing. Although it took longer to get there and it was even dangerous for David and his men, the payoff was greater. He won the affection and loyalty of the people because he held onto his integrity.

In the same life, we see the effects of a lack of trust. David, now a king with power, took a shortcut to get what he wanted. He took, he killed, and he covered it all up. A quick rise to success. And a quick but long-lasting and far-reaching fall.

When we are faced with opportunities, both big and small, to take a shortcut to success, we must trust that it is better to wait. Waiting prepares us by building the good character we need to use our success effectively rather than having our success use us.


The second mindset to nurture is one of abundance. It’s easy to see all situations in life as win-lose. “If I gain, someone else loses out. If someone else gains, I lose out. And I don’t want to lose out!” But that is not an accurate way to think through a situation, especially when it comes to losing out on our integrity.

God has an abundance. In the words of Gail Hyatt, the wife of my (virtual) mentor Michael – “There’s more where that came from.” Did the kids take seconds of dinner and leave nothing left for you? It’s ok. There’s more where that came from. Did a hot sale come by at the wrong time for your budget? It’s ok. There’s more where that came from. Did a business opportunity slip past because your team couldn’t pull the pieces together in time? It’s ok. There’s more where that came from.

No, just because there’s more doesn’t mean you’ll always get it. But because we changed our mindset to trust, we know that God will provide what is right for us. We don’t have to take matters into our own hand. We do not have to trade our integrity to gain success. We don’t need to smash the glass ball to bounce the rubber ball higher.

Question: Do you have an example of holding on to integrity that was worth it, whether the pay-off was big or you are still waiting? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Productivity Tip #8: Clear To Neutral

PT08-Clear to Neutral

Clear to neutral is a phrase that means to set things back to the start.

As with a vehicle, a neutral position means that it is ready to receive direction (a push or pull) to go a specific direction (as opposed to a vehicle in park, drive, or reverse).

Think about your many tools and environments. Your kitchen, desk, workbench, computer, etc.

As we come to a stopping point in our work, sometimes we think it would be better to just leave things the way they are as we are done.

That includes used dishes, unfinished papers, open browser tabs. This seems like a good idea… we’ll just pick back up where we left off!

Honestly though, how often does that happen? The real scenario is more likely that you’ll come back to use the environment or tools and discover that you have a lot of distractions and cleanup in front of you before you can actually get to work.

Another thing that happens when we leave things to get back to later is we create an sense of “incomplete” in our minds. Our brains continue to dwell on that and we may not be able to fully focus on any new endeavor.

The folks at Asian Efficiency even go so far as to say that leaving things in the undone state is one of the biggest reasons we procrastinate. Clearing to neutral will help solve many procrastination problems.

So, whenever you are stopping your work in the environment for a significant amount of time (you finished preparing a meal in the kitchen, or you’re wrapping up work to head home for the day), Clear to Neutral so you can come back to a environment that is ready to go where you want it to instead of one that is already heading in a different direction.

Don’t Drop the Ball: Family

The Choice is Yours

Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.
― James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

photo courtesy of unsplash.com

photo courtesy of unsplash.com

I love my family. Ask any man, and I bet his answer will be the same. It’s the manifestation of that love that can be a little unclear or uncertain. Especially when it comes to work. I consider my job and other responsibilities a blessing from God. I get to spend my time and talents helping a company achieve its goals, and in return I get paid. That money goes to feeding and clothing and sheltering my family, among many other things. If I neglected those things or did not work in order to do them although perfectly capable, you would call that unloving. And you’d be right! So working is an expression of love for family.

Time = Love

But it’s not always that straight forward. Spending time with my family is an expression of love as well. And work (plus the commute and any after hours email checking) is one of the largest time-blocks of my day. And even when confined to it’s eight hour per day boundary, it still creeps into family time. It can steal my full attention and joy when major problems arise.

Family is one of our four glass balls.

Fragile, just like health. Work is our rubber bouncy ball. That’s not to say there are not consequences for neglecting work. But there are more serious and long-term consequences for neglecting family. I’ve been at my job for fifteen years, but I know that jobs come and go. Opportunities and projects come and go.

So what is the best solution for this catch-22 situation? Family is important and work is important. Family should come first. But sometimes for family to come first, work needs to come first. How should a couple approach this in relation to their marriage. How should parents approach this in relation to their children?

I confess – despite using the Franklin-Covey planners as early as sixteen years old, it took me another seventeen years before I read the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Steven R. Covey. In the book, Dr. Covey recommends an approach to all choices within life that I believe is the best way to handle this complex work-family balance.

Everything is a Choice

We often approach certain things in life as if we had no choice in them. I have to go to work. I have to pay my bills. I have to take time off to care for a sick child. Rather than stating that we have to do something, Dr. Covey prescribes changing the world “have” to “choose.” This helps us recognize that everything we do is a choice.

Yes, everything.

Even work is a choice. So let’s be honest about it. Tell your spouse that you choose to go to work today because you love them and desire to take care of them. Or choose to tell your boss today that you choose to stay home because your family needs you to be there.

I’ve had the opportunities. And I’ve blown it.

There were obvious times that my wife needed me to stay home. Whether sick or over-tired, the need was apparent. But I pulled the “I have to” card thinking that I was under some greater obligation at work. It was all in my head. The truth was I could have addressed the situation with my boss, and in almost all cases he would have said that the choice was obvious – stay home. The work can wait.

By clarifying that everything is a choice with its own reasoning and consequences, we bring honesty to the forefront. It allows us to evaluate and to communicate. It allows us to express our priorities. And even perhaps realize that our priorities were wrong.

So what should you choose? Choose family over work. Sometimes choosing family means making other very hard choices. Today it may mean that you choose work. Tomorrow it may mean that you take a pay-cut to spend more evenings together with your family. Next year it may mean you change jobs to move close to aging parents.

Whatever the new choice is today, remember that work will bounce back. You should care for family how family needs to be cared for today.

Question: Share an example of a difficult but right choice that you made when it came to family and work. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Evernote for Beginners: Web Clipping

How to Get Anything from the Web into Evernote

Evernote has so many great features. I always find myself saying “this is the most useful feature” about them all.

photo courtesy of deathtostockphoto.com

photo courtesy of deathtostockphoto.com

But really, of all the features, the Web Clipper is right at the top because of its usefulness and user-friendliness. It is the easiest, fastest way to get content from the Internet into Evernote. Web articles, PDFs, recipes, pictures – if you can find it, you can clip it.

Some of you may be asking “why would I want to clip something from the web?” Here are just a few things and reasons:

  • A new recipe you’d like to try
  • A great article, but you can’t finish reading it all right now
  • A tutorial that you realize you have searched for five different times
  • A great article to support research you are doing
  • A post that inspires ideas
  • A picture that you want to use in a blog post
  • A design for a neat project to do with the kids
  • A PDF of your water bill that loaded from the company’s website
  • A screenshot of a recurring error that you need to share with your team
  • A bookmark of a whole website you just have to share with your spouse

The two major aspects of the Web Clipper are:

  1. Your Style
    You can clip (1) the article, (2) a simplified article, (3) the whole page, (4) just the link, (5) a screenshot, or (6) a pdf. The simplified article is by far my most frequently used selection. It strips out all the extra stuff – ads, sidebars, etc. – and leaves you with just the content.
    Clipping also gives you the advantage of never losing content. I’m sure you’ve experienced it – sometimes content on the web just goes missing! But as long as you have a decent organizational framework and know how to use search, you’ll always be able to find it in Evernote.
  2. Your Organization
    You can set up default options to always save a new clip to the same notebook. I have mine set to save to my Inbox so I don’t have to think about organizing it right then. But the Web Clipper does give you the option to select a folder and add tags on the fly if you do want to organize the new clip immediately.

And now for a quick demo of how to use Web Clipper.

NOTE: In this demonstration, I’m using the Google Chrome browser (my personal favorite) on a Windows 7 PC. Your experience may look different depending on your setup. Web Clipping is even available on smartphones!
To get the plugin for Chrome, go to Chrome’s web store, search for Evernote Web Clipper and install. Once you sign in to the Web Clipper, you’ll be all set to start clipping!

Question: Have you tried the Evernote Web Clipper yet? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Productivity Tip #7: Go Together To Go Far

PT07-Go Together To Go Far

When you work alone, you can get things done quickly. You keep a sense of control, all your ducks organized exactly how you want them.

But you’ll eventually hit a wall. A wall of exhaustion or limitation of time, talent, knowledge.

So get a team. You’ll go farther. It may be a little messier, at least at first. But it will be worth it.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African Proverb