|We are incredibly excited to announce that Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of the 4-Hour Workweek, renowned lifestyle design expert and all-around cool guy, has joined the Evernote Advisory Board [press release]. We’re looking forward to working with Tim to make Evernote easier to use, more efficient and just plain better. Recently, we had a chance to ask Tim a few questions about Evernote. Here’s what he had to say.
Q & A with Tim Ferriss
How did you find out about Evernote and what led to your ultimate adoption of it?
Periodically, when I’m looking for a tool or resource, I ask my Twitter followers for suggestions. I thought it was strange that Evernote kept popping up as a catch-all solution for various problems. I was skeptical, because it seemed like a Swiss Army knife, able to address almost any issue. Initially I didn’t use it, quite frankly because I didn’t need it to do EVERYTHING, I just wanted to apply it to one task and test it out for image capture and note-taking for book research. A five minute demo from Phil Libin, Evernote’s CEO, was all it took—I started using it to replace bookmarks on my browsers and it eventually became a much-relied-on tool for saving web content and doing much, much more.
What do you find most useful?’ or ‘What do you most often use it for?
For me, Evernote was most impressive when I realized how many other tools and processes it could single-handedly replace, like bookmarking sites, using browser tabs as “to-do” or “read later” reminders, and even filing documents. I used to have bookmarking systems across different browsers. They were scattered, unorganized and in general disarray—it was a pain. I would also keep browser tabs open as I worked on different projects, which had a tendency, while keeping me on track, to crash the browser. In Evernote, I can tag and organize all these items by notebook and I’m done. This is especially helpful during research projects, when I want to save “just in case” articles and such for future reference but don’t want to spend any time filing them.
While recently working on the expanded version of my book, it was really helpful to have everything in Evernote as I wrote. I used it in conjunction with Scrivener, a word processor and project management tool, and while Scrivener organized the overall flow of my project, Evernote kept all the information where I needed it, always accessible. There were many times when I went into an initial panic after realizing important information has been removed from a website, only to realize I had all the text saved in Evernote. Talk about relief.
What do you think is the best way for people to incorporate Evernote into their workflow and life management.
Evernote states it in its slogan, ‘remember everything’, no matter how important or insignificant the information may be. I think this is a good ultimate goal, but it can be overwhelming to start with this in mind.
Start by using it for just one task or type of information. A simple option is using it to capture and save business cards. We all get a lot of them; why not organize them and make them searchable in Evernote? Just hold it in front of your Mac’s iSight camera or use your cameraphone to take a pic and you’re done. The text is searchable within Evernote and you don’t have to dig through email for contact information.
If business cards aren’t interesting, I would use Evernote to declutter and remove the paper from your life – bills, receipts, tax documents, banks statements, handwritten notes on scraps of paper. Paper has always been a nightmare for me, and I’ve used Evernote and a Fujitsu ScanSnap travel scanner to get rid of at least 99% of it.
Truth is, the more information that’s out there, the more we try to remember. And while I use Evernote for some of my heavy duty projects, I also use it for less critical things like snapping photos of wine labels for future reference. For things like that, Evernote works as a “just in case” bucket to record anything I might need to recall later.
Where can Evernote make the biggest impact in life management?
The key with Evernote, as with any life management tool or methodology, is to use it instead of having it use you. Don’t rush to try and capture everything. Start slow and gradually increase the amount of stuff you capture in Evernote. You’ll find that you end up replacing a lot of other tools which, cumulatively, cause a lot of stress and consume a lot of time. Once something is in Evernote, you know it’s safe, synced and searchable. It’s here that Evernote not only frees your time and energy to focus on real work, but also offers much needed peace of mind.