Paper notebook, notes app, emails to myself, calendar entries, post it notes – for the longest time, this is how my organizational system looked like. To Dos got forgotten, the email address of that one knitwear designer I really wanted to reach out to got accidentally thrown into the bin, and my head just felt cluttered all the time. No wonder – it was busy keeping track of all the different to dos I had put down somewhere.
One day, I figured I’d had enough. I felt like the most frazzled, unstructured person on this planet – and I didn’t like it. I started researching different productivity systems and apps (and yes, I fell down the rabbit hole of the “50 things the most productive people do” blog posts) and came across Evernote. It’s been a lifesaver.
In it’s essence, Evernote is a simple note app with a few features that convinced me to try it:
- “Stack”-ability: I don’t do well with a range of random lists. I want folders, and folders within those folders. Evernote does exactly that – you can “stack” notes into one notebook, and you can “stack” several notebooks into an overarching folder (called “stack” in Evernote).
- Synchronisation: Evernote has a desktop app that I’m using when I’m working on my laptop, and a really good smartphone app. You can also work with it via your browser and use browser extensions (like for saving PDFs or clipping screenshots from websites). All of these sync seamlessly with each other which ensures that you’re always looking at the latest version, no matter which device you work from.
- Search: Evernote’s search is one of the most powerful in-app searches I’ve come across. You can find whatever you search for within seconds. If you upgrade to a Premium account, you can even search within PDFs you saved in Evernote!
I’ve gone through quite a few iterations of my Evernote setup, but the one that I’ve found works best for my creative business takes full advantage of the first feature, “stack”-ability. Now I have five stacks that provide the framework for my Evernote work:
- “To be processed” contains everything that I still need to file within Evernote
- “To Dos” contains a running list of my to dos, my current projects, and a “catch all” idea list
- “Project Support” contains one notebook for every single project that I currently have
- “Inspiration” contains notebooks with pictures and blog posts and books that I want to go back to in the future
- “References” contains notebooks of past projects that I might need to reference in the future
Each of these stacks contains several notebooks, which in turn include all the notes that belong in there. Let’s take a look at an example from “Project Support”: When I started writing for Craft Industry Alliance (CIA), I created a new notebook called “CIA”. Within this notebook, I have one “Research” note for every article where I file quotes, statistics and material related to the article topic. I also have one note for “Ideas” for every article, and one note for the finished piece. That way, I have all the material I need to go back to when it’s time to sit down and write. They’re all in one spot and don’t have to search for things which could lead to potentially missing something.
Two other stacks that I’m using constantly are “To Dos” and “Inspiration”. Every time I have a new idea, I open my “Ideas” list in “To Dos” and add it. I find that this immediately creates brain space, and I like being reassured that my idea isn’t lost. Similarly for everything that I come across that inspires me – be it a picture on Instagram or a blog post – I add it to the “Inspiration” folder. Whenever I run out of ideas or inspiration, I simply open those folders and within two minutes, I have a new project I want to tackle.
The best part about Evernote, though? It adapts to whatever you need. If you’re like me and you like folder structures, it can create that for you. If you want to work with a range of lists you can use it that way, too. As your business changes your organizational system may need to change with it and Evernote is flexible enough to change with you.
That’s why I like Evernote so much. If you’re curious about bringing structure to your creative business or you feel like your head could use some help in keeping track of your to dos, go check it out!