Interested in specific ways Evernote can help make your daily life a little easier? In this series, Evernote employees offer handy pro tips to help you beat information overload and be more productive with less effort.
If you find it hard to remember all the important details in your day-to-day, it’s not your fault. Turns out that our brains are great at solving problems—not so great at storing information. Fortunately, Evernote can remember things, so you don’t have to. Our own Darrick Price shows you how. His method centers on a simple concept: capture what’s important in the moment.
As an Evernote Customer Success Manager and father of five, Darrick has stacks of customer accounts and Wednesday school folders constantly vying for his attention. Before he had a system for keeping track of it all, things sometimes fell through the cracks. “In the past,” he recalls, “I’ve felt so guilty when I forgot about my kids’ Valentine’s Day party, for example. If it’s not in the next ten days then it’s out of sight, out of mind.”
Respect the default notebook
Darrick’s problem is a common one—he has a lot to remember. “With bills, everyday life, kids, family, all of the things that are important to me taking up space in my mind,” he says, “stuff gets lost.” Darrick’s solution is to put all of his important information into his default notebook to be sorted later. If you use Evernote, you also have a default notebook. It’s the notebook where new notes are saved automatically if another notebook isn’t specified.
And it’s Darrick’s secret weapon.
When he encounters something he wants to remember, he captures it to his default notebook, which he’s entitled “Inbox.” If what he wants is in an email, he imports it. If it’s online, he saves it with Web Clipper. If he’s out and about, he might use Evernote’s camera feature.
In the moment when he’s capturing something, he’s busy, so he doesn’t take time to organize anything (yet). “As I’m processing work emails, shopping, or looking at something I need to remember,” he explains, “I throw everything in that Inbox notebook, indiscriminately.” This lets Darrick save what he needs without breaking his flow.
For example, one of Darrick’s sons plays football. Recently, while the two of them were at a sporting goods store, his son mentioned a pair of cleats he wanted. Darrick discreetly snapped a picture using Evernote’s camera. This automatically created a note with the picture and saved it to his default notebook.
Everything in its place
If he wanted to, Darrick could leave everything in his default notebook and just use Evernote’s search feature to find things later. But he does some simple sorting to make things even easier to find.
The first thing Darrick does when he gets to work each day is move each note in his default notebook to the notebook where it belongs, which for him is one of the following: Work, Personal, Important docs, Shopping, Learning, Vacation planning, School docs, Kids resources.
Darrick also tends to put a lot of related information into a single note, which helps him find what he needs faster. For example, at work Darrick keeps all the information associated with a given customer in a single note. This note might include details from their conversations, documents, emails, and contact information. When he needs to do something for that customer, he doesn’t have to think about where to find the right information. He simply goes to their note in his Work notebook, and everything he needs is right there.
Tagged and found
When Darrick moves a note from his default notebook to the appropriate notebook, he also tags it. In simple terms, tags make notes easier to find. Tags also let you see related notes side-by-side, even if they’re in different notebooks.
“I have a tag for each one of my children,” he says. He also has a tag for each of their schools, each sport they play, and each activity they’re involved in. So as he sorts his notes, he gives each one the relevant tags. For example, he might add the tags football and gifts to the note with the cleats he wants to get for his son.
Now, when it comes time to go shopping, say Christmas or a birthday, Darrick doesn’t have to go hunting for the picture. He just opens Evernote, types “football” in the search box, and the picture with the info he needs shows up in the results. This means that Darrick can always find what he needs without having to remember anything but the most general information.
It also means he pays more attention to his son when they’re together.
Never another gift card
Knowing that at any moment he might encounter something worth saving, Darrick listens more carefully to his family, not just for clues about what to buy them, but for details about what’s important to them that he doesn’t want to forget. “Evernote has helped me become such a more active parent,” Darrick says, pointing out that he’s now better able to participate in his kids’ activities.
“In our consumer environment today,” he adds, “everything is about instantaneous gratification and as parents sometimes we say, ‘here’s 50 dollars,’ and we take the easy way out. Growing up, my mother always told me to pay attention to the things the people you love say. If you pay attention, you never have to ask them what they need. You’ll just know. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mother purchase a gift card a day in her life.”
He thinks for a second, then adds, “There’s nothing greater for me than to see a smile on my children’s faces when I’ve gifted them something they weren’t expecting, and they’re like, ‘I can’t believe you remembered this.’”