Justin Nowak is an entrepreneur with a passion for event planning. He is the Event Facilitator for Startup Weekend Calgary and VP of Community and Events for the Canadian Cloud Council. Justin plans all of his events using Evernote.
I use Evernote, Everywhere
I use Evernote for…Event Planning
I started using Evernote a lot when I began planning events. Between organizing large conferences for the Canadian Cloud Council and grassroots get togethers for Startup Weekend here in Canada, I began to get inundated with information that I needed to be able to capture and organize quickly and easily, especially on the go. After reading how other people — especially Evernote Ambassadors — were using Evernote, I realized just how versatile the tool was. Now I use Evernote to plan events from start to finish.
Logistics, research and the planning process
For me, Evernote now starts the planning process for every event. From creating lists of things I need to get done to what sponsors I want to work with, I use Evernote to capture my ideas when I first start to conceptualize an event. I’ll create lists for food, potential event locations, and more.
I aggregate all of my ideas in a unique notebook for each event. This is helpful as I’m often planning multiple events at any given time. There’s a lot of information coming in— contracts from big sponsors, ideas from other people, vendor forms — and this way, I’m able to assign information to specific notebooks to keep things tidy. Having all of this information accessible to me in one place is invaluable. Over the life cycle of an event, I scan numerous documents (using an app called DocScanner for my Android phone) and send them to Evernote. I also forward important emails from my inbox to my Evernote account (including attachments). I never have to dig through emails or a stack of papers to find what I’m looking for; Evernote’s search is so powerful, I only need to enter in a keyword or two to get to what I need. I also rely on the Web Clipper to capture articles with information that’s pertinent to the events I’m planning.
When you’re managing an event, you’re swimming in documentation. Being able to snap photos of or forward receipts to my Evernote account, and capture trip itineraries, means I don’t have to worry about finding that stuff later.
When an event has wrapped, I continue to use my event notebooks, making sure that I’ve closed the loop. I send all post-event related information (like survey responses about what people liked or didn’t and pictures) to the specific event notebook.
Sharing event responsibilities
By saving everything to Evernote, I’m not only able to hash out my ideas and keep myself organized throughout the process, but to also assign roles and responsibilities to key stakeholders right from my Evernote account.
With larger events, I typically work with a core team of people and a number of volunteers. Evernote makes it easy to delegate work and keep track of each aspect of the event and who’s working on it. I share individual notes and notebooks with various people responsible for different parts of the event, and because I can share with one person or more, I can decide who needs access to what. For example, I typically share notes and notebooks that include information about event aspects with the volunteers that are responsible for them, while limiting Shared Notebooks that include information that may not be pertinent to the volunteers to colleagues. I use Notebook Stacks to organize separate notebooks with different types of documents under the main event notebook, and instead of starting a long and tedious email chain with 20-30 people, I simply grant access to the group that needs these documents. This saves me so much time, especially when I’m busy. It also allows volunteers to collaborate on their own time. For people who don’t have an Evernote account, we simply have them email information directly into the appropriate notebook.
Using Evernote to plan events has a lot of benefits. For one, I’ve significantly cut down on email, but more importantly, I’m getting a ton more sleep now. I used to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, but now everything is more organized and I feel a sense of calm (as much as you can when you plan events!). On a daily basis, I can just go into my Evernote account, be reminded of what needs to get done, and get right to it.
A few of my favorite Evernote apps
I’ve started diving more into other Evernote apps including Evernote Hello. When I go from conference to conference, I meet so many people. I have a good brain but it’s not close enough to keep track of everyone I meet and how I met them. In a brief 5 minute chat I have with a person, I try to capture as much information about them as possible using Evernote Hello. Back at my office, I can recall if that person asked me questions about partnership opportunities, for example, and follow up. I also use Skitch to quickly annotate notes on the go.
5 Evernote tips for event planners
Since I’ve made Evernote my event-planning hub, I’ve picked up a few ideas for ways to use the tool more efficiently. Here are a few of my tips for using Evernote for event planning:
- Tip 1: Use the email address you get with Evernote. Send everything that’s pertinent to this email so it automatically gets saved to your Evernote account. [How to email things to your Evernote account]
- Tip 2: Use notebooks to their full potential. Make specific notebooks for each event you’re working on, then organize them into Notebook Stacks. You can share individual notebooks with groups of people responsible for various aspects of the event and keep certain ones private. I try to save everything that’s relevant into each notebook as I get it. Keeping notebooks very specific makes it easier to find things later.
- Tip 3: Tagging is huge. I try to tag as I email stuff into notebooks. This is another great layer of organization for notes.
- Tip 4: Utilize the Trunk. I love DocScan for my Android phone; it lets me scan everything from receipts to contracts so I can access them on the road. [Check out the Evernote Trunk]
- Tip 5: Use the Web Clipper. Capture pictures, articles and cool ideas for what you could do for future events.
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