Tips & Stories

6 Ways Evernote Can Boost Your Productivity – Guest Post By Joshua Zerkel

6 Ways Evernote Can Boost Your Productivity - Guest Post By Joshua Zerkel

Posted by Joshua Zerkel on 20 Jan 2010

Posted by Joshua Zerkel on 20 Jan 2010

Name: Joshua Zerkel
Location: San Francisco, California
Profession: Certified Professional Organizer and founder of Custom Living Solutions,
a productivity and organizing consulting firm, also the creator of the Profitable Productivity System.

Twitter: @joshuazerkel

For some of us, January is the month of resolutions and fresh starts. For others, it’s Get Organized Month.

We’ve enlisted the help of Joshua Zerkel, a Certified Professional Organizer and the president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers, to help us get our act together.

Joshua on Evernote

If you are tired of trying to keep track of every detail in your life, it’s helpful to look for tools that can offload some of that mental overhead. One of the best tools I’ve found for doing this is Evernote – it’s a fantastic (and powerful) note-taking tool, which helps to capture all sorts of different types of information. I’ve implemented Evernote both in my own business and with my clients in a variety of ways to help them streamline some of their processes and save them time. Here are a few ideas for how you can do the same:

6 Ways Evernote Can Boost Your Productivity

1. Snap your scrap paper

Instead of trying to rework how you do everything, try using Evernote in little pieces. Start by taking snapshots with your cell phone of all the scraps of paper that you have scattered around your office – your sticky notes, the backs of envelopes, scrawls on napkins, etc., and then put them all into Evernote where they can be searched later. You don’t have to stop using your written notes right away, but over time, you may find yourself needing them less and less as you transition to using Evernote more and more – especially as you discover how handy it is to be able to search your notes and actually FIND what you’re looking for!

2. Capture the whiteboard

Meetings with other professionals can be productive, but taking notes can be a real chore. At your next meeting with a client, vendor, or consultant, instead of frantically writing down notes from the meeting and trying to copy everything that’s written on a whiteboard, try snapping a photo of the whiteboard with your phone, and send that pic to Evernote. Since Evernote can read the handwriting in the photo, you’ll be able to easily search for and refer back to that whiteboard later on when you need it.

3. Share the love

If you work with clients and you’d like to share information with them, set up a shared notebook in Evernote dedicated to that client. In it, you can capture clips from web articles they might like, snapshots of resources that they could find useful, ideas for upcoming meetings or sessions, or links to online applications they may find helpful in their day-to-day lives. This can be a HUGE value-add to your clients and the people you serve – not only are you introducing them to a new tool (Evernote), but you’re populating their notebook with stuff they’ll be interested in.

4. Wrangle the receipts

I work a lot with clients on financial organization – keeping track of the money is super-important in the world of business and in life. When you’re busy and on the go (and who isn’t?), it can be a challenge to keep track of your receipts and other expense items. Instead of losing your receipts or stuffing them into a box, bag, or drawer, try snapping pics of your receipts and send each of them to a “receipts notebook” in Evernote. That way, they’ll all be captured in one central area.

5. Tie up your travel

If you travel for your business (or even just for pleasure), create a notebook dedicated to each upcoming trip. In it, you can keep any notes you have about an upcoming meeting or trade show, along with the agendas, location, maps and any venue information. Also, this is a great spot to keep details about your travel – flight confirmations, hotel and car reservations, and the like. You can even collect clips about restaurants, local attractions, and other fun things that can help you enjoy your trip more.

6. Centralize your storage map

You can also use Evernote to keep track of the storage in your home or small office. Take snapshots of everything that’s on each of the different shelves and inside of the different drawers, cabinets and containers in your storage system. Now, instead of having to dig through a shelf, drawer or closet, you can just go on your computer and quickly scan and review what’s there – making it easier for you to access and retrieve those things that you actually want at the moment when you need them. If you have multiple people in your business, you can share this note or notebook with them as a team reference.

Any one of these strategies can help gather your information in a central spot, and can definitely help save you time. Try a few different ways of using Evernote to boost your productivity – I think you’ll be surprised at how much it can help you!

Evernote and Organization


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50 Comments RSS

  • Joel Dahlin

    Great tips Joshua. Another use I have found is whenever I am about to get in on a business call I first fire up Evernote. I then take all my notes during the call in it. I just title the note the date of the call. I tag the note by whom the call was with and “call”. That way in the future I can just search on the tags to see all my calls with that person and see each call by date and the notes of the call.

  • Brian

    1 and 2 tips are great. I think you have gave me a great idea to clean my wall up!

  • Alex Sung

    Fantastic tips, Joshua–now to implement them…

  • Scott Kingery

    I’ll add…use the web clipper to clip stories like this to Evernote so you can find them again 🙂

  • Steinar Knutsen

    I’m just getting started with Evernote but so far it’s great, especially the iPhone app. So far I’ve used it to quickly transfer pics from my Photo Library to Evernote so I can use it online. Great service!

    I’ve also played with the share Notebook for Audio, but the formats didn’t play nice for what I wanted. Moreover, the audio seems very rough vs. iPhone Recorder or AudioBoo.

  • Keith Chastain

    Many of these I had already thought of… but a few sparked some new ideas… thx

  • Mary Beth

    I’m disappointed. I read a column and thought it would be a great tool. Signed up and found that I can’t load any word or excel files unless I upgrade, so I’m very sad.

    • C

      I’d suggest copying and pasting. Though it does take more time, it works…

    • Kathy Araujo

      It’s worth upgrading. I can do so much more as a pro user. Best money I ever spent.

      • Maxa


  • Dennis

    Evernote is great! It took me just 10 minutes to go from free droid/windows version to paid version…I saw how good the free version was, and I simply wanted the full capabilities. I didn’t even want to have to take the time to figure out what was or wasn’t in the free version…just give it all to me and let me get started. I am thrilled with the paid version. Maybe the free version would have worked, but given the very reasonable price, it was an easy decision.

  • Joe Smith

    This is nice but what if you DON’T have an iphone?
    NOT everyone has an iphone!

    • Joe

      I have an app for my Blackberry, and there is one for Droid.

    • Ricardo Ramos

      I have a Palm Pre Plus, which runs on WebOS and there is an application for it. Also if you can surf the web from a smartphone, you can just go to, which is especially helpful if you are using someone else’s hardware.

    • Maxa

      The new Android Evernote app is great on my HTC G2. Combined with the Evernote app on my PC and netbooks (and Blackberry 9700) and I pretty much have Evernote everywhere I want/need it.

      In short: Evernote ain’t limited to the iPhone.

  • Gary

    @Joe Smith – its still possible to take camera photos and upload via your computer. In fact, the higher quality would improve the character recognition for better search.

  • jb

    Uh, Joe, the article doesn’t mention the iPhone.

  • Pansai

    @Joe and @Gary you can take photos w/ almost any mobile phone today and even older ones have the abilty to send those shots via email to evernote – no need for an iphone to fill evernote

  • Christoph Dollis

    “I’m disappointed. I read a column and thought it would be a great tool. Signed up and found that I can’t load any word or excel files unless I upgrade, so I’m very sad.”

    Grow up.

  • Ali R. Rodriguez

    HELP me understand step by step:

    Once you take a picture with your cell phone, how do you send it to Evernote?

    I’m “tech” challenged.



    • Andrew Sinkov

      @Ali Rodriguez You can get snapshots into Evernote in a number of different ways. The easiest is to install a version of Evernote on your phone. If Evernote isn’t available for your phone, then you can email photos to your personal Evernote address, which you can find in the Settings section of Evernote Web. Lastly, if you know how to get snapshots from your phone onto your computer, then you can drag them from your desktop into Evernote.

      • Jim Dunn

        If you take a photo with your phone via Evernote and save it, how do you get that photo into a jpg format that works with Picassa?

  • clifton warren

    I have found using tags instead of additional notebooks made it easier to file and search for items.

  • Sarah

    Brilliant ideas! This may finally curb my
    post-it note obsession! Scraps of paper everywhere, it’s a nightmare! I didn’t realise Evernote could recognise handwriting… I’m off to photograph all my scrappy notes! Thanks!

  • jacobian

    nice tips there.I surely will use it then. 🙂

  • Deb Lee

    I especially like using a shared notebook for clients. That way, we can have one central location for before and after shots of each room we’ve worked on. It would also be a good way keep ideas for aesthetic and space planning changes. Awesome tips, Joshua. Thanks for sharing. =)

  • epiphany

    I don’t get the character recognition part.

    I took a picture of this article in front of my monitor, sent it to evernote. Now, what do I need to do, to search this article?

  • Gareth

    I am new to evernote & in general I like it. BUT it’s ability to format text properly seems flawed. I have problems when I copy & paste text into evernote, it misses line breaks & what gets uploaded to the web is sometimes formatted differently again!

    Has anyone else experienced this? Is there a workaround? Evernote know about the problem but have no timescale to fix it.

  • Hakon

    Have the Evernote app on my iPhone but still confused as to the advantages over google docs which is free. Anyone?

  • Dave

    Can you search snapshots on the free version or am I doing something wrong? I took the snapshot on my iphone and it loaded fine but when I search it only searches notes not the snapshot?


  • K Harrington

    @Ali Rodriguez. If you take a lot of photos but don’t want to send lots of emails then check whether your phone has a memory stick (M2 memory sticks are very small so look carefully). If you have one, then you can buy a Sony Ericsson M2 reader on Amazon (£1.15 in England, not sure about America), which I’ve got, and you can then easily transfer all the files to your computer. Hope that helps.

  • M. Kersee

    Great tips. I’ve also found Evernote useful for journaling and drafting blogs and articles on the go. I would like to intergrate with more apps on my mac like send Docs from Word ’08 straight to Evernote. Any ideals other than emailing to my personal folder?

  • terri

    I thought your tips were great Joshua, plus I’m new to evernote, so I’m still trying to get the hang of things.

  • Adam

    line breaks for mac are terrible!!

    what is going on here? it is maddening to have to constantly hit return on test that was pulled from Evernote. Lists are instantly destroyed and converted to big run on sentences – does anyone know a way around this? Evernote – why can’t you fix this one MAJOR issue ?

    I know at least 20 people in our office who abandoned using Evernote for this one reason – I am next

  • Gary

    To gather research info, I tear out and highlight many newspaper/mag articles, maybe 1000 a year, which I save by topic. So as you can imagine I have big stacks. I know EverNote will let me clip web pages, but how do I highlight the text in article so I can quickly find the important info a year later without re-reading the entire article? In other words, how can EverNote replace my Wall Street Jrnl and yellow highlighter?

    • Stian

      You´ll want to clip the article, read it in Evernote and mark off there.
      I just started using the plugin for Chrome called Clearly wich makes really neet and uniform articles out of webpages.

  • Pat

    I love Evernote, except that it doesn’t work on the iPod Touch without Wifi. So I get to a place where I need the info — airport, car rental agency, store– and I can’t access the data! Please make it so it can be accessed w/o wifi. Otherwise, these tips are worthless, as is Evernote.

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Pat, offline access to notes on your iPod is a Premium feature. Once you upgrade, you’ll have the ability to save any/all of your notebooks on the device.

  • Gina Rafkind

    These are great tips – thanks so much.
    I’m still finding my way around Evernote and
    I learned so much by just reading your post. 🙂

  • roseslug

    @Gareth, @Adam:
    The line break thing seems to be an issue with Evernote, a bug in the editor. If you download Smultron (a free HTML editor for Mac), you can copy/paste the Evernote into Smultron, then copy/paste the text from there to wherever you want and it preserves the formatting (at least the line breaks, which was my major concern).

  • dan

    evernote seems simple, fast and functional. looking forward to using it a lot more. thanks for these tips!

  • Phil

    This line break issue is driving me crazy as well. Just don’t understand why such a BASIC issue is not solved. Will try finding another app …

  • Frank

    I got tired of my pc crashing from time to time and I installed a Linux based system (Ubuntu). I don’t think I’ll ever go back to windows now but Evernote doesn’t have a Linux version of its software. I know I can go online to see and edit my notes but are there any plans in the pipe for a Linux compatible Evernote?

    • Anonymous

      You can install Google Chrome and then install it as an app in Chrome, if you like

      • Brian

        I’m using it in Chrome on Ubuntu and it works okay… But a native app would be better!

        Same questions, any plans for Linux?

  • Mark Chmarny

    $44 for a life-time subscription I get, but, to pay that annually, I am just not ready for this. I live without the pro versions. BTW, the monthly fee is even a worse idea.

  • Rich Henderson

    I think there is great potential for expansion of how Evernote can be used – personally there are 2 things I’d like to see integrated. First, it would help a lot if it was possible to set an alarm on a note (I have to use another app to do that) and second there is a big hole in the market for post-it type notes that sync between PC and mobile devices. I would like to make a note on my phone and have it wirelessly appear on my computer desktop (without having to open the evernote program) and vice-versa…

  • Jason Frasca

    Great article on boosting productivity.

    Another way to boost productivity with Evernote: Create templates from the Evernotes you recreate most frequently. Change only the text fields that need updating in the 3, 5 or 20 Evernote notes and drop the .enex files back into Evernote.

    Sound productive? It is!

    Have a look – templates for Evernote are here!

    MasterNote is a note template application for Evernote. Save countless hours recreating the same notes where you only change the same few text fields each time. For example:

    Client Files: Create 5 notes: Client Info, Objectives, Client Correspondence, TO DO’s, Billing. To open this case you only need to change 15 text fields. With a template, change the 15 fields, export the Evernote .enex files with the new client info, your new client file is ready to roll.

    Additional uses include: Meeting Notes, Workout Journal, Diet / Food Log, School Reports, Papers, Homework, Class Papers, Teachers: Syllabus, Curriculum, Tests, Quizzes, Handouts … and more.

    MasterNote solves the lack of printing the Evernote title problem too

  • Anthony Gillmeier

    HI, i just read about this post on Lifehacker. I believe I followed instructions listed here but it doesn’t seem to work. I am a premium member, using the iphone app and sent a pic of my whiteboard to my evernote address. I now have 2 notes, exactly the same and no text conversion of what is on my whiteboard. What am i missing? is there a delay i can expect before a transcription shows up? Thanks, love the app, wish this was featured on the main page…

    • noicereaver

      Transcription doesn’t show up. But after a while you can search for texts that is on that image. OCR search.