Staying organized is the foundation of being productive. You will waste time and energy if you don’t know what to work on. As a physician who bounces between patient care, patient safety, echocardiography, and online entrepreneurship, I need a system to organize the various tasks, projects, and references that accumulate from these multiple activities. I use Evernote to manage these items and remain productive despite the associated switching costs.
Note: I still use my Notecard System for my To-Do’s and top-of-mind items. It’s my variation of the Get-Things-Done (GTD) system by David Allan.
What is Evernote?
I’m not going to assume that everyone knows what Evernote is. The modern-era Evernote was released in 2008 during the heyday of the transition to smartphones. It’s a note-taking app designed to collect and organize text, pictures, videos, and audio recordings.
These notes are then backed up to the cloud. This allows the user access to their notes from any platform.
There are countless ways to use Evernote, and many others have proselytized the benefits of this program. I was a relatively early adopter, user number 824,954, so I have been through many versions of Evernote over the years.
#1 Using Evernote as a research folder
Physicians and entrepreneurs share many things in common; one is the need to research and organize your sources. Evernote does a great job of letting you create a single master file with documents, links, clips, screenshots, etc.. all in the same document that is then synced across all your devices. It eliminates the mass of folders I used to use to do this work.
I recently wrote an article on medication safety that involved a lot of online research, which I stored by keeping bookmarks in my browser. The downside was that when I returned to write, I had to open all my tabs again and find the appropriate sections on each page.
It’s much easier to take the relevant content from each page, including a link, in case you need to go back and paste them into a single Evernote entry or “Master” page. This gives you all the necessary information in a more concise and manageable format.
#2 Using Evernote to take notes during meetings
The universal nature of Evernote lets you take notes on your phone, iPad, or laptop. Some of my colleagues like to use a stylus to take notes on an iPad, and the notes are on their desktops before they even get back to their office. It is great to process notes into GTD action items immediately after a meeting.
#3 Using Evernote as a Master Task List,
A relatively new feature available on Personal or Professional plans is Tasks. This is the Evernote version of the To-do List. Unlike traditional to-do lists that get stuck on individual notes or pages and require you to navigate them, Tasks get aggregated into a single list or page. This a killer feature because it prevents your various to-do lists from becoming out of sight, out of mind.
If you don’t believe me, check out this video.
#4 Using internal linking In Evernote to create master notes
One of the key selling points of the newer workspace organization tools is the internal linking and single-page workspace features. I have found that using tables combined with internal linking of notes and using Evernote Tasks creates a similar workspace environment but with the strengths of Evernote.
I use this feature to create “Master” notes for various projects. I have master notes for
- This blog, Patient Safety Experts
- My different quality projects
- Different Echocardiography topics
- Master to-do list.
#5 Use Saved Searches for Common Searches
While I am a little old school and like to use links and note structures for my routine work. It can be helpful to use Evernote’s saved search feature for more obscure topics. One common way I use this is to find various order receipts or order confirmation numbers that I have saved using Evernote web clipper (see below).
#6 Using Evernote Web Clipper to save Articles and References
Thanks to Evernote’s search and tagging features, I have less than ten notebooks. Essentially one for each major category of work, Anesthesiology, Echocardiography, Patient Safety, Quality Improvement, etc. I create a master note for these different work buckets that I pin to the top of each notebook which contains my tasks and links to other important notes in that area of work. I then save my references, links, and files in this notebook. When I want to save the entire web page or a portion of that web page, the Evernote Web Clipper makes it easy and seamless to file this page away to refer to later.
#7 Using Templates for repeated Tasks like creating blog posts!
The seventh and final way I use Evernote to be productive is by using templates for my repeated tasks like creating blog posts or meeting notes. I have a series of meetings that occur each week, and staying on task and making consistent, meaningful progress is always challenging. There are always agendas, notes, and attachments to each meeting in our official Outlook calendar and email. Still, I find it useful to keep my own notes in Evernote, so the items I want to reference and follow up on don’t get lost in the sea of appointments and emails that my work account has become.
Those are my seven tips for using Evernote to be productive. Do you have any tips or features that you like to use? If so, let me know; I am always looking for better ways to work.