Meet Evernote’s New Advisor: Tim Ferriss

Posted by on 18 May 2010

Posted by on 18 May 2010

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.


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39 Comments RSS

  • Lasvegaswil

    Dawesome pairing right there. Period.

  • Evan Lovely

    What a great addition to the Evernote team! I’m a huge fan of Tim Ferris (and Evernote, of course), and I think you’ll create awesomeness together. Cheers!

  • Patrick Sledz

    Welcome to the Evernote Advisory Board. What a great move of the Evernote Guys.


  • Acidham

    Welcome Tim! What are your plans to make Evernote even better for managing my paper snippets?

  • Elliot

    welcome. I have 2 scansnaps. They are awesome with Evernote. Two seriously great products which just work. I am now down to under 50% of paper and intend to get to 10%. As I mention in all my posts I feel that a big gap in functionality is client security, remote wipe and cross-platform sharing vi really hope these get addressed in that order for the benefit of all paperless junkies who desire the peace of mind that noone can get into their account if the laptop is stolen or left unattended!!!

  • Robyn

    What a great addition. I’m a big fan of Timothy Ferris – a copy of the 4-Hour Work Week moves from room to room in my house so that it’s always within reach – and I’m looking forward to see what ideas he’ll bring to Evernote, which is already a brilliant service…nice move!

  • Atsushi Sakai

    I’m a huge fan of both Evernote and Tim Ferris.
    I think this move is totally awesome.

  • Tim Ferriss

    Thanks for the kind words, all!

    I’m really excited to have some fun with the Evernote team as we make this product even more kick-ass. I’ll be looking for your feedback often, and rest assured that I’m paying attention 🙂

    Pura vida,

    Tim Ferriss

    • Ben Singer

      I have not been able to get the hang of Evernote despite my high interest in it (BTW, I was one of the early adopters of the ancient MaxThink). What is needed is a very simple to follow manual, and for Evernote to stop telling us WHAT it can do and concentrate on HOW to do tasks from the elementary to the complex.
      Example: (1) Call up Firefox and locate item; (2) tap elephant symbol to retrieve Evernote; (and here’s where help is needed) (3) How to capture item — be specific; (4) How to create a tag and place it…
      et al et al on the HOWS for types of data.
      This is what is not available; the videos are really promotional, not pragmatic telling specifically HOW not simply what. A HOW TO DO IT MANUAl is very much needed.
      Best wishes for explication….Ben Singer

      • Andrew Sinkov

        Ben, we hear you. We recently hired a new person who is working on our start guides and manuals. Stay tuned.

      • Cameron Plommer

        Hey Ben,

        I am starting an Evernote Tutorial Series on my blog/YouTube channel and my first screencast is up previewing the rest of the series:

        Hope this could be of use to you.

    • Jim Parrie

      Heh-Heh.. he said ass!

  • Reality Check

    Cool, now all Evernote employees can go travel the world, telecommuting only 4 hours/week, while you outsource all your software development to India. Yiiiipeeee!

    I think I’ll learn bullfighting in Pamplona.

  • Charles Young

    Great article, with lots of good ideas about how to use Evernote. Great idea about bookmarking; I have the same issues to a lesser degree- I’m not an author!

  • npb


    I love Evernote and have recommended it to everyone, including my law firm staff. Despite my love for this product, version 3.5 for Windows is terribly slow and loses what I considered Evernote’s best features: the ability to scroll slowly through recent notes to refresh your memory on recent events, such as case logs, and to tag something without having to use the mouse. I’ve gone back to 3.1 and have no plans of upgrading so long as the interface breaks from 3.1’s ease.

    • Stephen

      First, GREAT move getting Tim on board! Second, I have to agree with npb. I’ll keep using 3.5, but it sooo slow and many of the important features from v2 and v3.1 have been dropped. This trend makes me a little concerned about the future of the product. Even so, I don’t know what I would ever do without it.

  • Ronald Frieze


    Can we please have an ‘Alarm’ or ‘Reminder’ function or method?

    Evernote is fantastic! I am retired now, but I keep thinking what a boon it woud have been when I was a CEO

  • Wilson Usman - Fun Lifestyle

    I like how you said use it don’t let it use you. I didn’t want to use it at first either. Now I just can’t find a better tool.

  • Ouma

    My “paper-life” is in Evernote – has been for years!
    Often joke that if I die , just keep my Evernote to read from time to time 🙂

    ONE SUGGESTION: I would also looove security – I want to be able to lock Evernote on my local computer (as I use a lot of local notes). For now I have to keep it in a Truecrypt volume.)

    Thank you very much for making it free as my coutry do ot have a very happy exchange rate with dollars!

  • Cynthia Gentry

    I second that idea about a SIMPLE how to guide. Perhaps some examples of how different people use it for different tasks. For example, I’m working on a book on really cool out of the ordinary playgrounds and so was very interested in hearing how Tim uses Evernote. I too have been overwhelmed with information and sometimes need to be spoon fed for things to get through. I had totally forgot about scanning my notes. Good God, Man! I need that desperately.

    Maybe have a “Tim’s Tip for the Day” for a while, until he runs out. Then have a chef do recipes, notes on food substitutions, wine labels. Oooh, a documentary maker. Now that would be something. I’m starting a documentary in mid-November and am already overwhelmed by how I’m going to keep track of everything. Find a filmmaker who uses Evernote.

    Anyway, I really appreciated the advice to slowly start using Evernote. As luck would have it I started doing just that a few days ago and can’t believe this incredible tool has been sitting here on my computer all this time, but I was too overwhelmed with paper, information, bookmarks, etc. to find it. Ha!

    I was referred to Evernote by author David Bornstein (How to Change The World: Social Enterpreneurs…..) Helps to go to someone who’s doing it.

    • Ben

      Cynthia…coolest playground I have ever seen: Melbourne Zoo in Melbourne FL. they have this amazing kids area where my 2.5 yr old will play until he literally passes out..includes water features, live animals, whacky physical things for the kids to pull/push/jump on..amazing.

    • Cameron Plommer


      I’m starting an Evernote Screencast Series that will go through each part of Evernote and the first tutorial previewing the series is up:

      I will cover notes, notebooks, tags, search, clipping and how I specifically use Evernote. Hope this helps.

  • TheInfamousGdub

    I agree with Tim’s advice on how to get started with Evernote. I’ve had so many friends that I’ve gotten amped about it, but who failed to actually use it because they were overwhelmed. I changed the way I explain it and tell them it’s like an operating system, meaning they can use it in multiple ways to suit their needs. That seems to work better.

  • Paul

    I’m new-but-not-really-new-at-all to Evernote (had it for a long time; new at trying to actually USE it). I’m a big Tim Ferriss fan, so this entry caught my attention and got me thinking more about using it.

    However I’m with Ben re: needing guides. Glad to see Andrew’s response that it’s being worked on. I’m pretty computer-savvy, but at some point I will literally just turn off using something if I don’t have some help getting me started on it. Thus far I just haven’t been able to click into Evernote. I think if I got a couple of approaches under my belt (a la “In Evernote, I can tag and organize all these items by notebook and I’m done”) that might be the push that gets the snowball rolling downhill for me.

    Look forward to the guides!

    • Andrew Sinkov

      You might want to check out some of our tutorial videos. There are some useful ideas there:

      • Sylvia Kwong

        Dear Andrew,

        With instruction manual, Evernote be a GREAT, INCREDIBLE and INDISPENSIBLE tool.
        Minus instruction manual, Evernote is just a good tool and does not realize it’s full potential.

        -The guides are very basic, enough to get one started, but not enough to realize full potential of Evernote
        – How “other people use Evernote” is a helpful page, but it takes time to go through each and every video, trawling for “operational” tips, when most are concerned with “conceptional” ideas about when Evernote can be useful
        – what is needed is an “operational” manual, which is simple to use, and info all in one place

        You can be proud of your 3 million subscribers and I am one of them. It tells me that the company has reached a new stage of maturity that it needs to pay attention to existing base of subscribers and hope they renew their subscription next year, besides trying to grow the base.

        I have a lot of less tech savvy friends who I think Evernote will be revolutionary for them…BUT I hesitate to introduce them to the product because of lack of easy to use Operational Instruction manual. It will take them too much time to get started, or they will require my time to get them started, it will not work out.

        I note that you said you recently hired a new person to be in charge of this. I look forward to the end product and I urge you to put very high priority on the project.

  • Michael Klusek

    Welcome Tim:
    I am a huge fan of 4 hour workweek and your whole philosophy. Success thru efficiency. Looking forward to more tips with evernote.

  • Jeff

    have it and pay for it. I use it off and on. I hate how I dont trust the security of it.
    1. Add pw protect to windows software
    2. Offer OPTIONAL higher level security, like bank websites (autlogout, pin #, etc.) then advertise that your stuff is safe and secure.
    3. I have no idea if staff can read my stuff. Give us some assurance that we are safe.

    TF, read and enjoyed the book 2 years ago. 4.5 /5 then. Now after digesting it, still 3.5 of 5. I might read your new one. used ask sunday but they f or got to do a few wakeup calls, etc.

  • Ste

    I’d like to add my vote for better security that others have called for. I am attracted by Evernotes usefulness and ubiquity but it’s lack of good security puts me off. I wouldn’t want to trust it in it’s present form with any personal details.

  • Scott

    I’m sold. I’ve had evernote on my phone as it was recommended so many times, just haven’t tried it yet. I’ll try it today.

  • Francis

    GREAT feedback from others so far, I second the motion for higher security levels (but make them optional please!).

    My huge nig with evernote is a technical one about its handling of bulleted lists, especially in the web interface. PLEASE PLEASE make this function better, it is how I normally store all of my outlines, project lists, etc…. but I can’t in evernote because it almost always destroys the formatting 🙁

  • Ray

    I too see the huge potential for Evernotes. I am been a longtime user of PhatNotes which was a breakthrough product.

    Evernotes takes the concept so much further. However, I strongly agree with the need for greater security.

    One of the reasons that I still use Phatnotes is the ability to password protect individual notes(on both my local machine and smartphone)I track over 60 different user name and password combinations for websites, bank accounts etc on PhatNotes. The ability to password protect those files is critical, especially if I was to ever lose my smartphone.

    Incorporate note-level security and your excellent product would be perfect.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Andrew

    I have the paid version, and now I’m up to over 4,000 notes…. but searching now seems very slow compared to what it was. Adding tags doesn’t help (unless I manually select tags to search). Is the slow search a results of having too many notes ? or is it that the later versions are slower than the earlier versions ? The devlopers should know what kind of notes organization strategies could help for faster searching ? The whole point is to create notes galore then find then easily. The old thick client InfoSelect was quite good in that regard. Any tips ? or plans to fix ?

  • Michael Corley

    All I want is an equation editor that is native, a program that syncs with my phone, and unlimited transfers. I am willing to pay 100 dollars a year — I do NOT care. I’ll make the conversion tomorrow. No more paper — no more anything. I just cannot use these programs because everything I do is math. Everything. I’m not going to make the commitment to any of these until I start seeing something like an equation editor.

  • Jesue Walker

    Wow, I love Tim Ferriss and his book is my holy grail lol. I signed up for evernote because of a colleague mentioning it during our session. I forgot I had it because of practicing my old habits, but after tonight using it little by little is what I’ll do. I love taking notes but putting them in a place that I will remember as THE PLACE will be a blast. This is going to help with coaching client notes as well. I love technology but more importantly I love technology that helps me! Thanks guys!

  • Marc

    Evernote has been improved over the years but security has not evolved a bit, has it? I wonder why that particular aspect does not bother you guys at all when we are supposed to use Evernote for ALL our notes… Yeah, I’ve seen lots of references to Evernote compares to cloud mail and so on, but I disagree. Mail and Evernote target different things and if Evernote is supposed to store ALL my notes, it currently does not fulfill what I would expect of security

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Marc, it isn’t clear from your comment what aspects of our security policies you find to be unsatisfactory. We’ve actually made numerous improvements at all levels over the years ranging from the ways that we physically protect data stored in Evernote to the ways our clients communicate with our servers.

  • Bojan

    Evernote for peace of mind… Now that sounds like cool slogan.

  • Bojan

    I’ve started using Evernote as a GTD tool. Now this helps me keep track of what I’ve done and when, because Evernote has time stamps and edit stamps on every single note, which can help you keep track of the things you’ve done.

    Here’s my contribution: