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Thoughts and ideas are precious.
If you want to be productive and keen to make an impact in your chosen field, you need to start capturing the ideas and storing them safely and logically.
So you can extract and use them when required.
An idea can be completely yours or it might be coming from external sources. It might jump in your mind while taking a shower or perhaps it was a seminar or lecture on a certain topic.
We are observing creature and it happens all the times in our lives.
“The key is that if an idea comes in your observation, you need to have a “capturing mechanism” in place so you don’t waste it. You don’t need to digest everything on the spot, instead, you safely store it away and retrieve/consume it later when there is a need for it.”
This is where simple and basic note-taking comes into play.
Successful people are good note-takers. They aim for a system to be in place which allows them to take notes effectively so they can review, analyse and reflect on them at later date. Their notes and ideas are like “valuable assets” to them.
You will know by the end of this article that why digital note taking (instead of paper) is important and the tool that I will recommend you to consider for this purpose.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend any money to get this super-useful tool under your belt.
Why Bother With Setting-up a System to Take Notes?
On one extreme is the person who says “it is all in my head”.
No formal note-taking basically.
I do not think that this is the right approach at all.
You can not trust your memory for more than a few things at a time. And with our generally-busy lifestyles, there is no guarantee when will this idea or piece of information come back to you.
It is a wasted opportunity.
On the other extreme is a sophisticated note-taking and idea-capturing mechanism which is ingrained in your habits and routine. It is a part of your personality and becomes your second nature. Nothing slips through the net and it is a catch-all system in place.
“I am talking about a repository, database or a defined storage mechanism for your notes and information. In other words, a second brain.”
It can be your daily journal (or diary) leading into a series of journals over months and years. Or something digital and software-based to handle your notes and information.
This quest led me to investigate the options available to me.
My hours of research and thinking has led me to go for a digital option as opposed to a more conventional approach of pen and paper with a hard copy journal or diary etc.
Although I don’t mind using pen and paper (in fact I do it all the times on a short term basis), my real inventory and storing method is based on a cloud-based software – Evernote. One of the most respected and widely used note-taking software in the market at the moment.
I have been using Evernote for nearly 2 years now.
It has become my second brain now.
I run and manage this brain (Evernote Cloud-based Software, SaaS) from my Chromebook and use its web interface to manage my note-taking and storage. In the following paragraphs, you will know more about the specifics why I believe that Evernote deserves your attention.
Something that has a potential to become your life-companion in terms of productivity and idea-management.
I feel passionately about the Evernote’s model. Let me explain you why Evernote should be on your list of considerations as well.
Why Choose Evernote Over Other Options?
Let’s talk about the high-level strategy and rationale behind choosing the Evernote.
Old school pen and paper approach is fine but in this day and age of digital influence, there is a lot more we can achieve if we go digital.
Michael Hyatt, a world renown entrepreneur, in this article has explained precisely how Evernote has clear advantages over conventional pen and paper approach. He has further explained his way of organising the information within Evernote for maximum efficiency.
For me personally, there are 2 key reasons.1Safety/Reliability – Anything can go wrong in this world and a machine/software is no exception. However your chances of losing your box of diaries and journals are higher than a reliable cloud set-up to go down and go bust.
And Evernote is based on Google Cloud Platform.
For me personally, it is a no brainer to go with the system offered by the two reputable names, Evernote and Google. Being a Chromebook user and an avid fan of “everything cloud”, it is a natural tendency for me to jump on a robust and solid software solution which is cloud-based.
It doesn’t matter if you are on Windows, Mac or mostly work from your tablet or smartphone, Evernote is synced and harmonious across all these platforms. You will enjoy using it on any platform of your choice.2Organisation/Retrievability – Secondly, imagine sifting through a few years old diary and trying to find something. You have a slim chance of being time-savvy.
Evernote offers you a comprehensive tagging and indexing solution which helps you to find information in a matter of seconds and minutes. It beats the competition by a big margin when it comes to logically storing and retrieving the information in future.
This is a big one for me.
All you need is a one-time investment of learning and acquiring the habit of using this system. Once it becomes your second nature, there is no big learning curve or substantial investment going forward.
Your second brain works for you on an auto-pilot.
Let us dive into the following 6 key areas which decide why Evernote outshines the rest of the competition.
6 Areas Why Evernote Beats the Competition
There are several online note-taking solutions available to you today such as Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep and Automattic SimpleNote etc. I did try all of these briefly before settling for the Evernote as my long-term companion.
There are 6 key reasons for that.
1 – Evernote is Simple but Intuitive
Evernote is not complicated and does not feel difficult either.
You will feel comfortable using it even if you have just started working with it. The interface is neatly designed to be clutter-free and responsive for excellent user-experience.
On Chromebook, I have always used it from its web interface (working from the Chrome browser window) and found it to be extremely reliable and easy to use. Depending on which device you are using, you can either install the Evernote software or just log into your account from your browser by simply typing evernote.com.
Have a look at the following short video (2:05) wrapping up the Evernote’s web interface in a nutshell.
Looking at the amount of features and functionality Evernote offers, it is great to see that the clean and tidy design are so effective and pleasant to use. It is unlike many other note-taking software which are cluttered and do not give you a clean-feel and peace of mind.
I don’t want to tell you everything in this article, it is not a guide to use Evernote.
Just create a free account (if you have not got one before) and log into it to explore the design and layout of the software.
I am sure you will like the simplicity and elegance in design.
2 – Evernote’s Pricing is Clear and Reasonable
Before jumping on to the paid membership, I used Evernote’s free version for over an year.
It is one of the best “freemium” model available and you can enjoy it for free with only a few limitations. Let it not distract you to avoid it just because there are paid options available. Free version of Evernote is still great for the majority of us with our common tasks.
Having used the Evernote’s free plan, I never found it to be too limiting or unusable at all.
In fact, I am not hesitant to say that the Evernote’s free version is perhaps the best option to start with if you are relatively new to note-taking and using cloud-based service for that purpose. You will learn and experience the model while you can make up your mind if you want to pay for the higher plans or not.
And fairly speaking, Evernote’s Plus and Premium plans are not overly expensive.
The Plus membership is for £29.99/year and the Premium will set you back by £44.99/year. These equate to £2.5/month and £3.75/month respectively which I believe looking at the benefits, is an extremely attractive price for a nifty tool.
When you are nearing your decision to start paying for the service, always compare the Evernote’s price to the price of a cup of coffee from Starbucks every month.
It will help you to make your decision.
3 – Evernote Offers a Robust Organisation and Search Functionality
Evernote is built with a “note-taking-user” in mind.
Evernote is built with storage and retrieval flexibility and versatility.
The “notebooks” are designed to store your individual notes and “tagging” allows you to search them at later date with ease. It didn’t take me long to set up my own regime to tag and store my notes and to date, I have had no issues with finding my required information whenever I needed it.
Let me tell you that to “specify” your own organisation structure, “implement” it and “use” it as a habit demands careful planning and persistent practice.
It took me approximately 6 months to get to that level.
I have slowly adopted myself to my-own-developed protocol and now I am in a position to say that I am refining it with my constant use and plan to keep it forever.
It has become my second brain now.
A brain which lives in the cloud.
Always ready to serve me whenever I need it.
I don’t mind paying £1.66 every month to have it. I got it for £19.99/year for the “plus package” and never regret my decision.
4 – Editing Interface and Notes Presentation are Decent
The best thing about Evernote is that it is not a note-taking solution only.
It offers you a clean and distraction free editor to type, create and manage semi-decent documents. Most of the basic formatting options are available however don’t expect them to be of MS Word or Google Docs standard.
You can share your notes with different participation level settings and allow other users to contribute too. In essence, you can use Evernote as a collaboration tool for your ideas and notes.
5 – Built-in Distraction-Free Reader (Evernote Web Clipper)
One of the favourite features of Evernote is its “web-clipper” app for Chrome.
The prime purpose of this app is to take notes within your browser environment. As a Chromebook user, this comes in extremely handy.
Whenever you need to store or capture an idea, click this app and it will offer you a plenty of options to store your required piece of information in your required format.
A full article, a simplified version, a snapshot or a full page. It’s your choice.
However, there is another extremely useful feature of the Evernote Web Clipper app as well.
It lets your on-screen page to turn into a clean and distraction-free reading environment. The main body of the article gets highlighted with plenty of white space and you can focus on the reading part.
No ads, no distractions, just a block of text to read. The app calls this option as “simplified article”.
I absolutely love it and use it frequently.
6 – Take it Anywhere, Use it Anywhere
Evernote syncs across all your devices.
It is an added peace of mind that if you decide to change your operating system or device, all your notes and information are safe in the cloud. You can sync it all in a matter of minutes.
I use it mainly between my Chromebook and the Android smartphone. On my Chromebook, it is always accessed and used from its web interface and from my Android mobile, I use the Evernote App. All my notes are synced seamlessly and I feel connected all the times.
How Do You Take Notes?
Forget Evernote if you are not fully sold on the idea and importance of “note-taking” in general.
You need to have a strong reason to adopt a system for your note-taking as a lifelong habit. It does take time to get used to it and make it feeling-natural to you but once you are there, there is no way back.
You can’t live without it then. It becomes your second brain.
See what these successful professionals have to say about Evernote in this short video (3:29).
I am keen to know what do you do to capture ideas and notes at all levels.
Is it just a conventional pen and paper to record your diary or a step up and use of a software/solution to store notes?
Or perhaps nothing at all?
Evernote is versatile and is a worthy contender for your attention and consideration.
Share your thoughts and let me know where do you stand.