Making Evernote Useful

It took me a long time to get Evernote. I felt like with Simplenote and Notational Velocity, why would I need to complicate my note taking with yet another app. Two things made me revisit Evernote, Tim Falls uses it religiously and he is one of the most productive people I know and SimpleNote sync had started to become slow and unreliable for me. In this post I’ll share three key use cases that have made Evernote a welcome part of my workflow.

Attending Events

In particular, the offline notebook feature (this requires a premium subscription) is what makes using Evernote valuable for managing events. As a Developer Evangelist with SendGrid, I attend a ton of events and managing them all is non-trivial; especially, while at the event. It’s a given that for portions of any event, Internet access will be flaky at best.

Prior to each event I store all the key details about the event into an offline notebook, such as:

  • Agendas and schedules
  • Maps from my hotel to the venue and surrounding areas
  • List of people I want to meet and their contact information.
  • Hotel & Airline information.
  • Key pieces of information from the website, or sometimes I’ll just store the entire website in Evernote.

Managing Business Cards

I dislike carrying around any type of paper, even business cards. Yet, I don’t always have time to input all the business cards into digital format, especially while attending the event. As a compromise, I used take pictures of the business cards with the iPhone camera, but the problem is that then I have a bunch of business cards mixed in with my other pictures and it becomes easy to lose any sense of organization. So instead, I’ll create a note in Evernote for that event and take the photo from within the app, adding any relevant notes.

Managing Receipts

In the same way I manage the business cards, I do the same with receipts.

I also found the Mac Power Users Podcast episode dedicated to Evernote to be valuable in discovering the virtues of Evernote.


How to Forward an Email as a Text Message

As an entrepreneur and consultant, I find that a balance between being responsive to people vs. focusing on work can often lead to an obsessive email checking compulsion. To battle this issue, I have  a recurring task to clear my inbox every four hours via OmniFocus. When I check off that task (check email, voice mails, text messages, etc…), OmniFocus creates a new task automatically in 4 hours.

But what about the case where there is an email that is critical and you need to know when it arrives right away? Option 1 is to sit in front of your email hitting refresh every 30 seconds, option 2 is to use some sort of notification program that pops something up when you receive a new email. The problem with option 1 is obvious and option 2 is a bit more subtle. Every time you see that pop up or see a number next to your email client you will likely be distracted and break your workflow to check email, only to discover some non-important email.

So this post introduces option 3. Setup a special filter to redirect the email you are looking for to your phone via SMS. This tip assumes that your SMS is primary used for urgent matters. Following are the specific steps to do this in Gmail; however, you can adapt easily to any email client that provides forwarding functionality.

[Read more…]


Turn Your Windows Mobile Phone into a WiFi Router

This software allows you to transform the data plan on your Windows Mobile based smart phone (here is a list of compatible phones) into a WiFi router for less than a one time $30 fee.

I find this solution most useful for when you have an unlimited data plan and you have several devices such as a iPod Touch and a NetBook that only have WiFi access.

Be sure to check with your cell phone provider to make sure you are not violating any terms of use.