7 Ways to Use Evernote to Gain a Second Brain

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 9.07.49 PMAnytime you are adding 100,000 new customers a day, you must be doing something right. Evernote now says its has some 50 million users. I have used this service for the last three years and only recently realized how absolutely I depend on it.  Just this past month, Evernote helped me:

  • Get a good night sleep when I recovered an online reservation after a hotel “lost” my reservation. This was way faster that finding it in the endless email bin.
  • Share files online with a large group easier than using email, ftp, or a similar service.
  • Trash some new business cards.  Who wants more paper these days anyway?
  • Find a lost receipt that I needed for an expense report. More money is always a good thing.

So, what is Evernote?

It’s your other brain. What makes Evernote special is not its ability to store notes, files or pictures, but the ability to search and sync on any device.It is a hot butter knife to informational overload.

While it is easy for Evernote to get lumped into all the other online services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, there are differences as shown on the table below. One of the main difference is that in Evernote all notes gets converted into a proprietary file format which gives you the ability to scroll throughout notes visually, ability to search for text in your pictures, pdfs, and handwritten notes.

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Basic Setup

When I first started using Evernote I created way too many notebooks.  This past year I have simplified down to just to four collections of notebooks called Stacks (An Inbox, Personal, Research, Work).  I tend to think of notebooks as files in a physical drawer and a stack is really just a drawer or a collection of notebooks. I don’t tag every note religiously. Evernote scans every word so I just use the keyword search.

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So, How can Evernote Help You?

1. Someone emails you a good paper or article, but you have no time to read.

I can’t tell you how many emails I get where someone sends me a paper, newspaper article, or a link that I really don’t have time to read. With Evernote you get a specific address to email attachments that looks like this… watercrunch@evernote.com. I just send the email to this Evernote email address. Evernote takes care of the rest.

I have been able to find some great gold nuggets that I have completely forgotten about by doing this. In your email message you can actually direct the attachment to a specific notebook with proper syntax in the subject line of the email. [Subject: This is the subject of the note  @Notebook #tag1 #tag2 #tag3 Note title comes first, tags and notebook that are used must already exist. Also, notebook cannot contain “@” or “#” and tags cannot contain “#”.]

2. Are you heading to a Conference? Use Evernote.

I use it to save the conference agenda, hotel reservations, and record any new contacts. Evernote Hello App for your phone has gotten more stable and better in the last three months. I use it to scan in new business cards. It automatically fills out the contact information into the right fields and then imports all the data into Outlook. Trash the business card before you even leave the conference. I also keep up with professional accreditation hours from conferences using Evernote.

3. Forget bookmarks, just save, forget, and search later.

When I read something good online, I save it on Evernote with Evernote clipper for Chrome. You can save the actual web page – text, links, images and all with a single click or if you just like to remember a certain section you can highlight and save directly into Evernote.  Also, if you want to read a web page without all the ads and insert into Evernote, Clearly is an extension you need to add to your browser.

 4. Share files with others.

If you want to share a file or a notebook full of files, Evernote is just as easy to use as Dropbox. You can also share files with users who do not have an Evernote account if you’re not planning to give them access to edit files in the notebook. Just set the permissions to view-only, and anyone with the link can view your notebook.

5. Supercharge Evernote with ifttt

ifttt, If This Then That, connects two services of your choice to create an automated flow called recipes. Recipes consist of triggers and the resulting actions. You can create your own Recipe, or use an existing Recipe created by other ifttt users.

I admit as I write this, it is hard for this stuff not to sound too geeky, but it is actually pretty easy. I use this recipe to automatically take any favorite email in Gmail and export it into Evernote. I use a recipe to send all my favorites in Google Reader over to Evernote. You can also do lots of other things with ifttt. For example, this recipe texts me if it is going to rain the following day.

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6. Scan and search your white board results or hand-written notes.

You are in a meeting and you have created a hand-written jumbled mess on a white board. Don’t just take a picture of it. Use Evernote to translate handwritten notes to make it all searchable.

7. Save notes and highlights from Kindle

If you read a lot of books on the Kindle and highlight certain passages or make notes you can also import these easily into Evernote. First log into your Amazon Kindle page .  This page has a list of all your books, with links to the notes and highlights. Your notes and highlight page will look like this below.  Next just highlight your text and use your Chrome Evernote Clipper to highlight and clip into Evernote.

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So, how are you using Evernote?


  1. The web clipper (bookmarklet version) can also be added to various web browsers. I use it with Chrome on my Mac and on my iPad in the Safari web browser app.

  2. Evernote is my favorite of these programs, I was a big fan of Google Docs, but Evernote just works so much more smoothly.

  3. Please detail how to do #6? Is that taking a pic within Evernote? This is my first visit to your site – inspiring! Thanks!

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