Tips & Stories

3 Ways to Get Started Organizing with Evernote — Guest post by Brandie Kajino

Posted by on 01 Sep 2009

Posted by on 01 Sep 2009

brandie2 Name: Brandie Kajino
Profession: Professional Organizer
Blog: The Home Office Organizer
Twitter: @bkajino

Hear Brandie debate & debunk life’s
organizing myths on her weekly
internet radio show & podcast “The O-Myth”

Part of Evernote’s Summer to Unclutter Series

My Name is Brandie, and I’m the “The Home Office Organizer”. In addition to being professional organizer, I am also an author, speaker, blogger and small business owner. My specialty is empowering busy professionals with information, technology, tools and simple organizing solutions.

I had heard of Evernote a while ago. Then recently, a friend said she was using it and couldn’t live without it, so I thought it was time to give it a try. Boy, am I so glad I did! Evernote is such an open concept, that, at first, I had trouble figuring out where to start. Let me tell you how I have been using it, and share some tips on getting started. Hopefully, this will help you see some of the possibilities.

3 Ways to Get Started Organizing with Evernote

1. Just jump in

At first, I wasn’t sure how I was going to use Evernote. Since I learn best by doing, I decided to jump right in. I started with capturing websites, because there seem to be more of those than there are grains of sand. There was a lot of useful information that I wanted to refer back to, but I didn’t know where to put it. So, I captured the link (or a clip of the page), tagged it and filed it away.

2. Use notebooks

I set up one personal notebook for quotes (I post these weekly on my blog) and then had separate notebooks for ongoing projects.

As an example of an ongoing project, I co-host a podcast but I am also working on a second podcast to integrate into my blog. I have a gazillion good ideas, and I was having trouble capturing them. Now, I have an Evernote notebook titled “Podcast XYZ” and “Podcast ABC”. This way, I can take notes, and file them in the appropriate notebook, and everything I need for each project is always accessible.

3. Use tags

What if you come across a bit of information and you aren’t sure what notebook to put it in, because you might forget, and then….Relax. Just use tags. Let’s say I find a podcast show that I like, and would like to learn more about their format for my own education. However, the podcast doesn’t cleanly fit into a single existing bucket? It could easily go in either my “Podcast ABC” or “Personal” notebooks. So, instead of fretting, I put it in Personal and tag it with “podcast”. This way, I can find it later, and it’s neatly put away.

Finding What I Need: The Five Minute Rule

Evernote helps me stay organized. What does that mean? When I speak, I tell my audiences and clients that “organized” means you can find most anything in about 5 minutes. Evernote definitely helps you follow the five minute rule.

Evernote has been great in corralling all those little notes, pictures, snapshots, websites and other tasty bits of information. It’s working wonders so far. I have Evernote installed on my desktop and on my iPhone, and I sync between the two. It couldn’t be easier or more portable! I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.

Evernote’s Summer to Unclutter

Check out our previous post in this series:


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25 Comments RSS

  • jace-uk

    well was that worth typing?
    1)use evernote
    2)use it how it was intended
    3)as above
    give us some real hints for gods sake

  • Yays and Nays of Life

    Brandie, thanks for the article. Absolute perfection! I am thoroughly hooked on Evernote. I’ve used it for more than a year now, and I have less paper around my house, as well as a centralized location for everything from receipts to photography ideas (the actual photos) to a place for me to keep class notes and write papers for my classes!

    Evernote…a brilliant invention. I’ll make sure to feature it on my blog.

  • Brandie Kajino

    @YaysandNays: I agree! I was completely overwhelmed by the endless possibilities at first. However, once I jumped in, I was so happy with how much it can really do!

  • Gil

    Hey, jace-uk. It’s a “getting started” article for goodness sake! It’s a great article for getting someone interested and started just a little bit.

    • Deborah

      There are some of who are, shall we say, on the “challenged” side when it comes to all things technology. I say “Amen” to your comment re:jace-uk. I’m sorry, but I need all the extra words. :0)

  • Computer Tech

    I have a client that uses Evernote and I have been very impressed with what I have seen. One of these days I need to switch over. I have hundreds of scattered files that could be neatly organized. Finding the time to do so is the hard part.

    Bravo on a great product!

  • Jake

    Nice short piece, but I was expecting a bit more. The first comment is correct, it is going over the facts of Evernote but hasn’t inspired me to use it I’m afraid. I was hoping for some description on how you are now using it since you first jumped in. I see Evernote, I know about Evernote, but I cannot see a reason yet to use it.

    Maybe I need to jump straight in, but any tips of on what can be done, what you tried and didn’t work, what you tried and it ‘changed your life” sort of thing. I hope for a second follow up piece maybe?

  • Sumit Menon

    Thanks. Very nice post.. I was searching for something like this.

    There’s so much going on in my life now!


  • Franz

    by ‘5-minutes’ do you mean 5 seconds? I think with evernote it’s possible to find anything in 5 seconds using the super fast search tool; I would hate it if it took me up to 5 minutes to find anything on my computer.

  • dj

    when? when? evernote for symbian?

  • Brandie Kajino

    @Franz, I agree! Open the program and your notes are all there. It’s that easy!

  • Rio Ken

    Love Evernote! Thanks for this…

    Rio Ken

  • Eileen

    Is Evernote just like Microsoft’s One Note? If so I have way too many “unfiled pages”

  • Mike Kern

    Very nice article Brandie. As a “technology coach”, we look to assist folks from all walks of life with their computers, gadgets, etc. I’ve had Evernote for several months but haven’t really started using it until recently & find it to be a fantastic cross platform tool.

  • slothbear

    How do you format the quotes in your Quotes Notebook? I’ve tried a bunch of different ways. Below is my favorite style so far, but I feel like I haven’t quite gotten it right yet. I add a little curation in the subject.

    Subject: Dan Gilbert on brains
    Body: Just what good is a frontal lobe?

  • Roger

    Man do I LOVE this tool.. It`s really true what you wrote, once you started using it I cant imagine life without it. Kinda ridiculous, but true no less.

  • hiddenbk

    I also have installed EN for a while but not used, but came to the same conclusion, to just start with it, so now I am inspired again, to do so. I will give it a try. Thank you very much. hidden

  • Jack

    Jace-UK. Ditto, from the title I was expecting some specific user tweaks. Open the program,use it, search keywords and tags…there, same content; fewer words. We who use the Internet need more facts and less self promotion from so called “experts”. As Joe Friday would say, “just the facts ma’am”.

  • Michael Bube

    I downloaded this extension but have not had time to use it. The description in this article makes it sound like bookmarks that I have tagged and can find as readily as Evernote says its notes can be found. Is there something I am missing?

  • David

    Loved your suggestions, I did kind of he same thing I jumped right in and presently in the process of organizing things myself. The hardest thing is realizing how many things Evernote can actually do!

  • DexterQ

    I’m with Jace-UK, maybe even more so. I’ve looked at EN videos, listened to a podcast, looked at some blog entries. This is what I’ve learned:

    –People who work at EN really, really, REALLY like this product.
    –Some fraction of the customers do to: these are the ones who appear on their blogs.
    –Oh yes, and a lot of people are interested in food, though EN’s contribution to the food video I watched was embarassingly small.

    Where do I look for “EN for Dummies”… something that will give me an idea how my life would be different (and correspondingly better)?.

    I have a feeling somebody in marketing has drunk too deeply from the “Sell benefits, not features” well. Unless I have at least some understanding of your features, it would be silly to believe that your benefit claims will apply to my situation.

    I have now spent 60-90 minutes on your site and remain almost clueless about your product. I guess I’ll go see if the OneNote site is any more helpful.

  • Sharir7209

    I’m also in agreement with jace-UK, DexterQ about the content of the article. The 3 so-called “tips” in this article are the 3 most obvious aspects of the application to anyone who has played with it for more than 30 minutes.
    I have been using EN for a long time, like it, use it often-it is like a super scratch pad on the desk for grabbing tidbits of information on the fly, and I’ve compiled a great deal of important (to me) information in it–clips from web pages about a book I’d like to read; reminder to buy a tomato at the grocery store tomorrow, quick place to type an address/phone # to enter in my address book later, etc.,. I also use it for more specific tasks, such as an “index card replacement” research tool for reports, because it provides the source URL automatically, helping with the bibliography chores, and I am also a quote collector.–but gathering the information is the easy part.
    It seems obvious to me that the real power of an app like EN lies not in the ability to gather the information, but in its ability to intelligently organize information so that it is easy to retrieve, see relationships, avoid redundancy, etc.,; and I have also scoured this website and others that have info about EN looking for “tips” of that sort, and I’m not finding anything really useful, either. Using tags for a note that could be categorized in multiple notebooks (see Tip #3 of the article) occurred to me rather early on, I didn’t find that to be any sort of Aha! idea. I would also like to see some real-world, clever examples of how other people are using tags, notebooks, etc., to organize their information.
    I’ve also been trying to figure out how to use EN with other applications, so that I can move information in and out of EN with ease (other than with a copy/paste), and I am not finding much about that issue, either.
    I found EN several years ago and have been using it ever since, and I can see so many great possibilities in it…and during all the time I’ve been using EN, I’ve been waiting for the knowledge base to improve from superficial benefit promotion to specific feature information so I can explore those possibilities.

  • Mike Webb

    I usually don’t have a problem learning a new program, but the “How to” in Evernotes in very poor. I can’t even find a book on it.

    So I am about to abandon it. I wrote to Support with no reply and that was 2 weeks ago.

    Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. I just can’t take the time to “dig in” and it will make sense in time. And that shouldn’t have to be.



  • iefforts

    Evernote seems to be ideal for GTD. However, we can not make more sub-notes .

  • Sara

    I recently downloaded this app, having memory problems, it has been very helpful to me. I keep shopping lists, job task lists, its connected to one of my twitter accounts so I can save the tweet to view later, & I recently tried out the snapshop function. The part I like best is that I can view and edit notes on my laptop, & the updated notes will show up on my phone.