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Your Life & Business In the Cloud #2 – Note taking software

Your Life & Business In the Cloud #2 – Note taking software

Evernote has changed the way everyone in our office organizes information that needs to be searchable. It eliminates our need to go searching through a bunch of files to find that one piece of information we know we have somewhere.
Evernote allows us to create “workbooks” to group like information. Think of them as a virtual version of the old school workbooks you had in grade two. Whether it’s summaries of meeting notes, diagrams, agendas and minutes from meetings or web research we need to park somewhere for later, it all goes in to Evernote. The beautiful thing is you can share a notebook or just a note with anyone either inside or outside your business and they are all searchable. You can add Tags to notes that allow you to group items in workbooks but also give them other groupings to make them even easier to search.

When you are searching for something on the web there is a widget that lets you automatically save the page content to any of your workbooks in Evernote and it will even strip out the useful content so you don’t have to save the ads down the side. It’s a fantastic way to save things that you want to be able to access offline and read later. In a lot of cases I use it instead of bookmarks. I like to save my bookmarks for sites I use all the time. By comparison Evernote gives me a place to put information from websites that I’m using for research and will only be accessing for a limited amount of time.

I clipped one of our web pages. Here’s what a simplified article looks like:

Who We Are
Hawkins & Co. is a locally owned and managed accounting firm, helping business owners grow their wealth, and still sleep at night.
Hawkins & Co. is not part of any big firm. We are a made-in Windsor-Essex firm, and made up of accountants and business advisors who are an active part of the very community you operate in.
We understand you because we are one of you. We are husbands, wives, parents, volunteers and local business owners. We just happen to also know the numbers/tax side of a business – very well.
Select Below For More Details

By comparison here is what a screen shot capture looks like:

Screenshot of Hawkins & Co. Website
I frequently use Evernote for board meeting agendas and minutes and can easily share them with all board members in just a few clicks. If I go back to my workbook for that board or committee I have all of my meeting notes and agendas in one place and can search them. If I can’t remember how many meetings ago we talked about launching a Kickstarter campaign I can search on Kickstarter in my notebook or Evernote in general and find out.

Evernote has a great iPad/iPhone app too so I don’t have to worry about forgetting my meeting notes ever again! The icing on the cake is the Evernote scanner that allows me to put in business card, receipts and a stack of letter size paper all at the same time and it will scan back and front. Its crazy fast and very affordable given its ease of use and functionality. I had a quote from a local business equipment supplier that was trying to sell me an equivalent scanner at 4 times the price.

Personally I’ve used Evernote as a place to gather recipes with photos. Last year when I was part of a fitness challenge that required a food journal I used it to take photos of my meals and put notes underneath. So simple and always with me.

Internally within Hawkins & Co. we use Evernote to record our “How-to” documents, process flows and webinar notes. Each note within Evernote has its own unique URL. If you right click on the note in Evernote you can copy the link and paste. To open the link you need to be able to log in to Evernote to view the note. Within our projects when we have a task list that requires detailed instructions we use Evernote to document the instructions with screen shots and commentary and then imbed the link in our project system. It means that we can have the documents in Evernote tagged for easy access but allow staff that still need the detailed how-to’s to access them when they are working on a project.

If you search Evernote and productivity there are so many blog posts about how people use it that it’s almost overwhelming. Here’s a great post on how to use Evernote to create more Effective Blog posts:


For those of you that like to write with a stylus freehand or annotate documents Evernote has two sister apps that integrate directly –Penultimate and Skitch. I’ve used Skitch quite a bit to highlight documents or mark-up .PDF documents. It’s very straightforward and allows you to do a screen capture that you can then add text, highlights, arrows, shapes and other mark-ups to. Penultimate is like having a paper notebook on your Ipad that allows you to draw or write with a stylus. There are several choices of background “paper” and the notebooks sync to Evernote so you can have your handwritten notes alongside your typed notes. I’m looking forward to trying it with the new Apple pencil and Ipad as I’ve never had great success writing volumes of notes with a stylus –I’m faster typing or with an actual sheet of paper.

Evernote is an integral part of my day every day and allows me to avoid having “bits of paper” everywhere. I can park my research or thoughts somewhere contained and searchable. It’s easy to use, easy to share and available on all of my devices at all times. What more can you ask for?