I have a reputation as being a highly organized person. I find great enjoyment in taking chaos and putting into a logical order. And as a teacher, I often feel like I have a chaotic list of tasks and things to remember floating around in my brain, and I’m always looking for ways to be more organized and waste less time on mundane tasks. I’ve found that during the school year, a vital part of my workflow is a to do list. I look to it to figure out what task is most urgent and can be completed within the time that I have. I can look at it and add to it, even when my computer is being used to project a Power Point or video during class time. And I take great joy in crossing items off my list. One of the highlights of my week is throwing out my old to do list and filling in my To Do List Template for next week. I organize my tasks based on my class preps (honors chemistry and general chemistry) and a miscellaneous category.
In the past, I’ve checked out digital organizational tools like Remember the Milk, Wunderlist, and 30/30, and while they’re fun and somewhat helpful, none of them have stuck and become a vital part of my daily workflow. But for the graduate class I’m currently taking, CEP810, I was challenged to explore some new tools and incorporate one into my routine to enhance my productivity. I’ve heard people rave about Evernote, but never really explored it, so this week I committed to really dig into it and find out how I can use it. Here’s some highlights:
Why You Need to Check Out Evernote:
- It syncs across devices. I can access my information from my web browser on my school PC (running Windows 7), a Windows 8 app on my personal PC, the app or widget on my Android phone, or my iPad. This means I’ll never forget my lists at home (unless I also forget all of my tech devices…), and I can quickly add an item to my lists from anywhere (no more taking 3 different lists scribbled on different papers to Target!)
- You can make To-Do lists with check-boxes. Great for making sure you don’t forget to buy something at the grocery store, tracking your progress toward completing a multi-step process, and feeling great about yourself when you finish a task.
- Creating Notebooks & Sub-notebooks is easy. Part of why I’d avoided Evernote in the past was because I didn’t understand how to organize it. I’d just created a bunch of random notes, and it stressed me out to log in and see a list of random notes. Now I’ve created a notebook for each area of my life:
- The Chrome Extension Rocks. I think the coolest part of this extension is that you can clip a page from the web, annotate it, and save or share it immediately.
- It’s a great place to store your web-based research. When I’m researching something online, I find myself with about 15 tabs open in my web browser. You can use Evernote to save links to each of those sites, include pictures from the sites, or even include the full text of each page. Then those notes are searchable (in case you can’t remember where you saw something)!
- You can upload your own pictures from your phone. On my android phone, I downloaded the Evernote Widget app, which gives me a widget with this toolbar, so with one click, I can take a picture and create a new note.
- You can add reminders to alert you when to to revisit a note. This works on the web and your phone.
- You can share notebooks with other people, so that you can collaboratively work on something together. Here’s the link to the notes I took about Evernote as I was exploring this week. This link will update if I add new resources – it’s not a static page.
- Everybody’s using it — so you can find tips on Pinterest and recipes on IFFT to combine it with other tools.
I will still keep my paper-and-pencil To Do List, because I like the week-at-a-glance layout, I need to be able to access it when I can’t look at my computer or phone, and there is less potential to get distracted when using paper. (Am I the only one who turns on the computer, checks email, checks Facebook, checks the news, and then 15 minutes later asks “Wait, what was I supposed to do on the computer?”) But I am convinced that Evernote has the potential to enhance my productivity in some powerful ways. Hopefully you’ve now got some ideas on how to get started with Evernote. If you’re already an Evernote user, please feel free to share your tips and tricks with me!