True confession: I have a notebook obsession. My wife is probably thankful for Evernote just for the simple fact it has kept me from purchasing stacks and stacks of paper notebooks in the recent years. Do you “suffer” from a notebook obsession as well? Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to fix you!
Notebooks have served us well as a handy way to carry and organize information. Brett McKay highlights a few professions that have benefitted from notebooks over the past century in his post “The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook.”. Notebooks certainly aren’t for men or professionals only. A whole notebook industry has developed to provide all forms and styles of notebooks to match our preferences and personalities.
Analog or Digital?
Although I still have an affinity for paper notebooks, digital notebooks (particularly Evernote) have many advantages when it comes to organization.
You are probably familiar with the concepts of digital folder or notebooks for grouping and storing files on your computer. You can put your recipe in the Recipes folder, the bills in the Finances folder, and the homework in the School folder. You can even add a folder within a folder for another level of organization. For example, in your Recipes folder you may have subfolders for Soups, Salads, and Desserts.
While keeping this basic concept, Evernote adds some features that make notebooks even more useful.
A key principle when organizing:
Be kind to your future self. Specifically ask, “How will I or someone I care about be able to find this again?”
Note: I do not use many notebooks in Evernote. In fact, I only have one notebook to “organize” my 500+ personal notes, and another seven notebooks to manage the 200+ notes that I need to share with various teams. However, it is important to understand the basics of the Notebook, whether you use one or many.
What I do use a fairly liberally, but still purposefully, are tags. We will discuss tags in the next post.
Here are five things you can do with your digital Evernote notebook that you can’t do with your paper ones.
- Name it.
And Rename it. Go head. Whatever you want. I have found the best practice is to make them one word (use a hyphen if needed). This works best for some “expert” features we will address in the future.
- Stack it.
Similar to making subfolders on your PC. This is for notebooks of similar characteristics. My one and only stack is called “Shared” for all my shared notebooks.
- Share it.
You can share a note or notebook (but not a stack) with anyone you want to – even if they are not using Evernote. My wife and I share a Recipes folder. For work, I have a “Knowledge Base” folder to share with coworkers.
- Favorite it.
You can add notebooks to your Shortcuts. If you decide to go heavy on the notebooks (FYI, your limit is 250 personal notebooks), then you may want to add a couple to your shortcuts for quick reference.
- Default it.
You can select a notebook to be the default notebook in your account. When you create a new note, clip an article, or send an email, it will go to this notebook unless you specify otherwise.
In the demo (using the web version), I walk through all five features above. You can even visit the note I created for you in the video. Because you’re awesome.
Question: What will you name your first Evernote notebook? You can leave a comment by clicking here.