Tips & Stories

5 Ways Evernote Saved My Creative Career – Evernote Creative Series

Posted by Glen Stansberry on 29 Oct 2010

Posted by Glen Stansberry on 29 Oct 2010

Glen Stansberry is a web developer and writer who has been blogging about creativity and organization since 2006. He currently writes about finding creative balance with productivity at LifeDev, a website devoted to helping creative people create.

Name: Glen Stansberry
Profession: Writer and web developer

Why I Use Evernote

Like many creative professionals with multiple roles and job titles, keeping track of the day-to-day things necessary to keep my life running was a nightmare…until I found Evernote. Prior to discovering Evernote, I was completely spread out using way too many different tools in far too many places.

My workflow looked something like this:

  • Voice messages of random thoughts recorded using my iPhone were stored in my voicemail
  • Things I wanted to reference or read later were saved across social bookmarking sites
  • Random ideas were spread around various paper notebooks
  • Drafts of business plans were stored as text documents in a bunch of different locations on my computer

When I actually needed to find what I was looking for, I would waste entirely too much time just trying to figure out where I’d put the stuff. My thought process was nearly the same each time “Did I record that idea on my phone, or was it in a notebook somewhere?” This was followed by me searching in a bunch of different places until I finally found it. Evernote takes the guess work out of my day. It’s comforting knowing that everything I might need in the future is searchable, always available and stored safely in one place.

Here are a few ways that I use Evernote to manage different aspects of my work.

1. Design research

Design projects require a lot of research. I’ll create a notebook with the project’s title, then collect inspirational sites and text documents of design ideas. I can also easily snag screenshots with Evernote, then I add some annotations to the note with relevant thoughts. I’ll use text notes to add client feedback, or I can simply forward emails straight into that specific notebook for future reference.

2. Idea generation

When I’m drafting ideas for new businesses or web applications, I’ll often use a regular paper notebook. As much as I love the way pen and paper feel when drafting ideas; paper notebooks aren’t that great for archival purposes. To get around this, I simply take a snapshot of the paper and upload the photo to Evernote.

Ideas can also come when I don’t have a notebook handy. When that happens I’ll use Evernote’s voice note feature to record quick ideas on the go.

3. Writing

I’m funny when it comes to writing. Oftentimes, I’ll outline a post in a text editor, while other times I’ll just make a note in Evernote with the title and maybe some bullet points for ideas. Regardless of where I start my writing, I’m always sure to have a copy in Evernote, backed up and available to work on whenever I’m ready.

4. Finances tracking

Before Evernote, I would try to hang on to receipts in a physical folder. This didn’t work out well. Now, I snap a picture of the receipt and upload it to Evernote in my “Business Expenses” notebook. If it’s an online purchase, I’ll email the receipt straight into that folder as well. Simple and easy.

5. Daily Planning

Lately, I’ve been using traditional paper notebooks to plan my day. I love the way it feels to write, and how I can do expressive things with pen and paper that I can’t do on a computer. But (again) as good as pen on paper feels, you sacrifice a lot of versatility when you use it to plan your day. It’s not easily stored, you can’t back it up or search it, and most importantly for me, you can’t track your progress over time.

So here’s how I use Evernote for daily planning. I still use my paper lists throughout the day and mark items off as they’re done. At the end of the day, I’ll take a snapshot of the list and upload to Evernote with the date as the title. If I want to know what I did on July 23, 2010? I just search for that date in Evernote.

Make Evernote Work For You

If you’re looking for ways to improve your Evernote workflow, check out Evernote Essentials. It’s a fantastic resource for getting under the hood of Evernote and getting the most from the service.
While my system is far from perfect, it’s a huge improvement over the way I used to work. Evernote just simplifies everything and it works great for me, give it a try and see if it works for you.

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32 Comments RSS

  • Jay

    I really liked this post. Great examples of how to merge the digital and non-digital parts of life.

  • Shenee

    Truth. I started using Evernote and it was similarly amazing for my creative career. So organized now!

  • Buzz

    Great read. I’m always looking for new and different ways to utilize EN more efficiently as the ONE place to store ALL of my info. I have EN setup to automatically grab any files in designated folder and import them to my default notebook (“Inbox”). Glen, I like your work flow regarding pen/paper notes and capturing them by date! Thanks.

    • Michael Yardney

      How do you get EN to automatically grab files in a folder?

      • Andrew Sinkov

        This feature is available on Evernote for Windows. It is called Folder Import.

      • George Lulos

        I use an Evernote import folder called “!Evernote folder”, a subfolder in My Documents. The exclamation point forces this subfolder to the top of the list. That way, anytime I want to save a file to Evernote, I right click on the file title (or click on the File menu, if I am actually working in the file), then choose “Save As”, and when My Documents opens, the Evernote import folder is right at the top, nice and handy to designate as the “Save as” destination. The file gets saved to the Evernote import folder and then Evernote magically sweeps it up and carries it over to my Evernote Inbox, where I can tag it, annotate it, move it, rename it, etc.

      • Vicky

        George that is a great idea. I’m going to do that this weekend.

  • Anneke Van Couvering

    Suggest using LiveScribe. This way you could write on paper with a pen, and pull it into Evernote, since there’s now integration between Evernote and LiveScribe.

    • Glen Stansberry

      Hey Anneke,

      I’ve thought about using LiveScribe, but really it all comes down to the fact that I like my pens 🙂 Even if it is inefficient, I still like combining the two techs. It also forces me review what I’ve done and created in order to stay current, which is never bad thing.

  • Francois

    I love the why you combine old school with new tech.

  • seanzhangxp

    I often use evernote to manage my receipts including goods and invoice sorted by date as well as taking pictures about my favorite page in books and uploading to my evernote. on the other hand, It can help me to record my starred tweet via myen.

  • Machine Vision Guy

    Excellent advice for “real life” management of my day-to-day activites. Tracking finances is particularly useful. Thanks!

  • Shaozhi

    I LOVE Evernote. I use it daily. I also use Awesome Notes for iPhone to keep track of my to-do list and then sync it with Evernote. I wish Evernote had the “word count” feature.

  • Kerwin

    I’ve always waited for this day! The 3.5 was a terrible piece of bloat of a note taking app.

    Thanks evernote!

  • Mike with Grow Light Review

    Great article. I was looking for a way to condense everything for my business. I am confident that this combined with my new Droid x should do the trick to get organized. Thanks!

  • Douglas Turner

    Awesome Post… with some actually useful tips. I’ve recently started Grad School, and I also write blogs, cultural theory, and essays… and I can see myself going deeper into Evernotelandia!

  • Jeff Newman

    I am falling more and more in love with Evernote everyday.

    I love how I can tag items for easy retrieval in the future.

    I wish I could have tags per notebook rather than tags for the entire account.

    It would also be cool if I could link to another note from within a note.

    Thanks for this great service!

  • Donald Nordeng

    Great article. Just wondering why you don’t use a scanner. I have an iPhone 3GS but am not happy with the photo quality. Scansnap is the scanner I use to scan directly to Evernote, and I love it.

  • Mike Taylor

    Loving Evernote, it has changed my creative process. However, when I’m writing I like the Darkroom (don’t remember what it’s called on Mac) feeling without distracting UI elements. The Darkroom program lets me focus while I’m writing and I would love a fullscreen darkroom style feature on EN. Thanks!

  • Donna Hull

    Wow! I see that I’ve barely touched the surface with EN. I especially like the way you’ve combined using paper (by photographing your notes) with the digital convenience of EN. I’ll be adopting many of your ideas for my blogging business. I’m trying to work smarter not harder. This post certainly helped.

  • Shala

    Great explanation how the different ways to use Evernote. I am just now about to start using it for the first time and this shows me some fantastic things I can do with it, that I am looking for to help manage notes and tasks. I switch back and forth between multiple computers and need a way to share my docs without swapping out a jump drive all day long. And this gets even more sticky since I switch back and forth between a PC and a Mac.

  • Shravan Kumar N

    Don’t get limited to the usage of Evernote! this article is just an introduction to the application! I am a Designer(Architect)_

    I shall tell you one best thing!…. I use Evernote on my MacPro at my home and then on Windows in my office, with the same login!…and all my ideas and research articles sync flawless….and the best part no one mention here is sharing Notebook across the user! I dont think any other application would give u this flexibility!…. I have 6 of my friends sharing same research Notebook! and then -“Believe me its dam interesting the way how we could resolve the problems of compiling things”…and all these we do among free users and some paid users….
    This application is actually best for both students and professionals….

  • Mathias

    Great post! Evernote makes life so much easier.

    A really great improvment of Evernote is the mobile App on your smartphone. I´m actually using the Android App and it supports me really well doing my daily work, even my private Tasks…

  • Nancy

    I love using Evernote with the to-do Awesome Note in the Itune store application .The way they synchronise together

  • vita reid

    Thanks so much for a pratical post. I just learned from your post that emailing to Evernote was even possible. It worked beautifully. I appreciate the screeen shots of precisely how to execute this function. I’m organizing my sister’s bridal shower and other facets of my life so much more easily now … and location independent to boot! I have three words to say about Evernote! Won-Der-Ful!! I’m done!!

  • Debbie

    Great post, full of ideas for a new user! Does anyone know how to use / find the voice note feature? In iphone / windows version?

    • Andrew Sinkov

      The voice note option is on the homescreen of the iPhone application. There is no voice recording feature in the Evernote for Windows version. Your best option is to record the audio using another windows application, then drag the audio file into Evernote.

  • tactoth

    About the writing part, I have to say freemind is a better choice, though this is evernote blog. I’ve being actively seeking a way to combine the advantage of the two, and so far get no choice.

  • Liam Ó Gógáín

    I love evernote’s facilitation of allowing my mind jump all over the place while keeping a track of all of the ideas. I am trying to envisage how I could then use Freemind to pull different notes into a strategic shape. It would be great to be able to interoperate Freemind and Evernote. Any suggestions welcome!

  • boblouis

    Embedding Freemind (or any mindmapping tool) into Evernote would be excellent!
    Is Evernote alreday working on it?

  • Anthony Matthews

    I am finding many aspects of Evernote useful, but I use GoodReader on iPad and iPhone because it has the ability to annotate over PDFs; one of the ways you can do that is freehand drawing, other ways are lines, boxes, callouts. That is incredibly useful for studying texts – say, a chapter of a book. However it is limited to PDFs and it would be great if the same facility could be extended to e.g. Jpg files. Now, to import a snapshot of a written note is a great way to use Evernote, but what I’d really like is a way to draw and write over that image once it’s in the app.

    regards Anthony

  • The Productive Guy

    I like this post even though I don’t think that taking notes on paper and scanning and uploading them in Evernote is the best option (at least for me).
    I use Evernote for getting organized too. I implemented the “Getting things done” methodology with Evernote and got much more productive ever since.
    For more info on GTD see: