How to use Evernote for business and stay organized

If you’re a freelancer, consultant, service provider or work on side projects or for multiple companies, it feels like you’re working on a million projects or for a million people when you’re disorganized. And it’s hard to get organized when you’re disorganized. And overwhelmed.

Maybe you have a process and you think it works great, but if you’re still reading this, it must not be working all that well for you.

There’s a secret to staying organized — and if you do it, you’ll actually find a work-life balance and your stress level will go down. So what is it?

Write EVERYTHING down.

The reason you feel overwhelmed, stressed and overworked is because your organization process sucks. You can’t remember everything off the top of your head if you’re juggling multiple clients. So to avoid that, write everything down. And more importantly, make sure you can find your notes easily!

Maybe you already do write everything down — on post it notes, notebooks and random notes on your phone. It doesn’t help any if you do that because it’s easy to lose them and you don’t have them with you all the time.

That was me, too — until I found Evernote. What is Evernote? It’s a note-taking app that’s way more than just a simple note-taking app. It allows you to create notes, and organize them with notebooks and tags so you can easily find them later, and has a whole lot more great features (I’ll tell you about that another time).

Evernote changed my life. It’s my external brain. It helps me remember everything. And when it comes to keeping my work organized, it’s an absolute life saver.

Here’s how to use Evernote for business and keep your work organized:

1. Make a notebook for each company or project

In Evernote, I have “Notebooks” for each company I work for to keep them separate. And in it, I take notes like a mad-woman anytime I do work for them. This helps me keep an on-going log of and archive on what I’ve worked on for them so I’m always up to date and can refer back if needed.

Evernote-Notebook-Example

2. Create tags to help organize. 

Create tags for common notes. My two most popular tags are “To-Do Lists” and “Flash Reports.” Each week, I create a to-do list with the date. I put down my punch list for the week, and then a “back-burner” list of items if I find time to get them done that aren’t as urgent. At the end of the week, I create a report with all the items I completed, that I am working on will do next week. I also include any questions I may have for my clients/bosses, as well as the billable hours for the week. (See a template for a flash report here.) By doing this, I keep a log/archive of all the work I’ve done each week in case I need to refer back.

Best part — I then can email the flash report to them directly from Evernote. They’re in the loop. I’m organized. Win-win.

Tag Projects, Phone Calls and Meetings. Say I’m working on 3 projects for one client. I have a tag for each project so that way I can organize all the notes and quickly find items I need to in that project.

Make tags for your phone calls and meetings with clients. Every time I’m on the phone with a client, I take notes so I know what they said about the work I’m doing with them and my actionable items. That way I can refresh my memory if I don’t do that work for them until a few days later.

3. Install it on all your computers and devices.

Evernote is cloud-based, and syncs everything automatically. So you can access it anywhere and never have to rely on the “save” button. They have a great mobile app, and desktop applications for both Mac & PC. I write notes on the go all the time, and the mobile app is an absolute life saver.

Why Evernote is better than other note-based platforms.

Evernote will turn into your own personal database of everything you need to know, neatly organized and easily accessible. It eliminates having ridiculous amounts of Word documents. It eliminates sticky notes and paper notebooks. It’s mobile. And it’s free.

If you’re having trouble keeping organized, you need to try out Evernote.

What tools do you use to stay organized?

Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. This is such a great post. I hope everyone that downloaded Evernote and couldn’t figure out how to set it up finds this!

  2. Thanks for the great post Devan! Very descriptive. P.S. What did you use to annotate your posts like that? Did you do it in Photoshop or another program? I love that font!

    • Thanks, Craig!

      I used Skitch for the images – seriously an amazing tool. It’s actually owned by Evernote now! And free. 🙂 I use it all the time with clients to do rough sketches and annotations on all sorts of stuff. Definitely check it out.
      And the font is “Hand of Sean” from dafont.com! Love it.

  3. I’ve adored Evernote for ages but now I realize that I’m missing out on a lot of the tool’s value. Time to get organized! Fantastic post.

    • One of the best things about Evernote is that you can customize it and organize it into what you want it to be – which is so great since everyone’s needs are different. The only thing is you have to dive a bit into it to make it as valuable as it is. Thanks, Katherine! 🙂

  4. Devan;

    You are so right about the value of Evernote, and you didn’t even touch on their web clippers, adding in documents from your computer, using pictures as notes, integration to other platforms (like If This Then That). It just makes my life so much easier.

    I do find that I need to clean up my tag list from time to time. When I accidentally use a capital letter to spell at tag, or use a tag that I never use again, or mis-spell a tag. But the truth is that I search more often than I use tags to find things.

    • I know! I need to write an advanced users post with all the cool bells & whistles.

      I have to do the same thing about the tags – and sometimes I create a tags I only used once and can merge with another one. Evernote’s search function is phenomenal and saved searches are a life saver. If you’ve never messed with that – you have to!

      Thanks, Brad!

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