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How I Use Evernote as a Writer and Crafter

Evernote screenshot

How I use Evernote as Writer & Crafter

A propos of nothing, I’ve been feeling an overwhelming love for Evernote. So I thought I’d share a bit about how I use it in case, like I was for the first several months I had an account, you’re not quite sure what to do with it.

If you’re wholly unfamiliar with it, Evernote is a combination note-taker and filing system that syncs your saved notes across pretty much any platform. It’s the kind of app that’s so powerful in its simplicity that it can be very difficult to figure out what to do with it. It’s free to use, with paid upgrades. (I have not needed to pay for it yet. Though I’m inclined to, simply because I find it so darn useful.)

The foundational unit of Evernote is, as you might guess, the note. A note can be anything: text, an audio clip, a photograph, whatever. You can organize your notes into folders, and each note can be tagged for further organizational and retrieval purposes.

Perhaps examples of how I use it will be helpful in explaining how it works.

Evernote screenshot
Evernote on my desktop, displaying a pattern I saved from Knitty (by the lovely and talented Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark).

As a crafter:

  • First and foremost, Evernote has allowed me to stop printing simple patterns. (I still do print parts of more involved patterns, because I mark those up as I go.) When I find a pattern on someone’s blog, I use the very handy web clipper to save it in Evernote. When I buy a PDF pattern, I can drop the PDF into Evernote.
  • This allows me to keep a library of patterns with me at all times, so I can easily remind myself what size needles or hook I need for a project, or how much yarn. And since Evernote syncs automatically, I don’t have to actually do anything to keep this information up to date, say, on my phone if I saved the pattern on my computer.
  • When I start writing a pattern, I do it in Evernote so the draft is always with me. I rarely draft things using a word processor anymore. For simple text writing, Evernote is faster, cleaner and keeps all the relevant information I need available at a click, even if I switch the device I’m working on.
  • Tutorials! When I started knitting my (still unfinished) February Lady Sweater, I saved a buttonhole tutorial into Evernote so I had it with me wherever I was, regardless of whether I had an internet connection. I do this with all sorts of helpful info.
  • I also keep any published pattern errata in Evernote, so I have it at the start and don’t have to do a panicked search later.
  • I have a note containing my measurements, and one for Greg’s and Owen’s, too.
  • I’ve saved standard measurements, too.
Evernote iPhone screenshot
Evernote on my iPhone, displaying the same pattern (zoomed in).

As a writer:

  • When I write an article or guest post, I usually draft it in Evernote. This way I can work on it wherever I want, whether I’m working on my laptop or iPad, and sometimes in desperate moments on my iPhone.
  • I capture ideas. Say I’m in line at the grocery store and an I think of something nifty. I jot it down in a new note and file it in my Ideas folder. Or I see something that sparks an idea: I’ll take a photo of it in Evernote.
  • I organize research. Say I’m writing an article that requires the collection of background information. I’ll slurp relevant info into Evernote using the aforementioned web clipper. This is a bookmarklet you keep in the bookmark bar of your web browser. When you click the bookmarklet, you can then save all or some of a web page into Evernote, and Evernote automatically records the URL. You can file it into a folder and tag it, too. By the time I’m ready to write, I have all the background info in one place, complete with citation information.

Miscellaneous

  • When I’m in a meeting, I take my notes in Evernote if possible. But since I still write way faster than I type on a phone or iPad, I often take notes on paper and then make a photo note of them in Evernote.
  • I save recipes. I never use them, but I save a lot of them. Like on Saturday, when upon tasting the best cookies ever I snapped a photo of the recipe with Evernote.
  • I save my travel booking confirmations. This is made even simpler because you can email notes to Evernote. So I just forward all my travel bookings.
  • Greg and I have a shared folder for Owen-related stuff, like our info sheet for babysitters and the list of baby stuff we want to sell on Craigslist. You heard that right, you can share folders.
  • I save notable stuff. Like last week when a photo of Owen accompanied a press release about a research study and ended on the Science journal website, among others.
  • I take a screenshot of tech-related instructions I have to refer to every time I have to do a particular thing. At least this way I don’t have to do the same Google search over and over again.

Do you use Evernote? I’d love to know what you do with it!

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Catherine Winters

I’ve tried Evernote, but what stopped me from using it was the speed of the iOS client. I’m guessing it’s faster now–particularly when it’s not running on my 3GS–but the system I eventually settled on was Simplenote, using the Notational Velocity client on my Mac. No images, but it does just save a list of .rtf files on my desktop, so exporting data is a bit more straightforward… 

Sheri D. Maple

I just discovered Evernote yesterday, and using to capture such things craft projects, short-long term goals, and ideas. I downloaded the application on my droid as well to use at a moment’s notice. I love using this thus far. I also discovered Penzu, the free online personal journal to write down thoughts I don’t care to share with anyone other than myself. The downside is if you want to sync with your smart phone you have to upgrade to the premium service that’s $19 a year, so I will just use Evernote and transfer it over to my personal journal later.

Leebeloola

I started using evernote a few years ago to gather research for university work. I’ve just started using it for crafts and presents ideas and any other useful things I find online. My main problem with it though is that I always seem to be adding more tags, especially in my crafts folder. Do you have a tag system?
I wish the mobile version would save actual page content instead of just links but it is too fidly and long a process right now.
I have been playing with the thought of keeping track of my ongoing projects with this so I can prioritize and not forget them for years. But that’s because I don’t know any other android programs that could do this well(w photos). I would love some suggestions or tips :-)

Jen

In addition to recipes, meeting notes, draft work and general “ideas,” my favourite use of Evernote is for travel.

When we were traversing Europe in September (and trying not to kill our trip budget with data roaming fees), I saved screenshots of maps, tidbits about attractions, pages from Yelp of restaurants to try, plane/train/automobile reservations, hotel confirmations and a note full of important phone numbers. Opening the app to sync over wifi before heading out for the day meant we had all that info at our fingertips while on the go.

And though we’re not doing it much these days, when we first moved here and were in the throes of interior decorating, I kept a file with home measurements in it, so I’d know when shopping whether a particular piece of furniture would fit.

Mercedes

Great ideas, Kim! I like the idea of storing patterns for use on the go, which I’ve dabbled with, but haven’t gotten fully set up.

I use my Evernote to store LOTS of recipes. I tag them with general food types, ingredients, and seasons so that I can find what I need without too much searching. If i have a mess o’ blueberries, I just check for that ingredient tag.

Peggie

You know — I was in love with evernote at first and then faded away….your post has me itching for more evernote…especially since I’m knitting much more….PERFECT.  Thank you!

SweetGeorgia

I LOVE Evernote. As of this morning, I have over 2,500 things clipped there and have been using it for seriously for the past two years. Everything that I come across that is a “someday, maybe” or “read it later” type thing that I want to clip goes into Evernote. 

Like you said with taking photos of your notes… it’s awesome because Evernote also includes OCR and even your handwritten notes become searchable.

And, it was invaluable when we were planning the wedding earlier this year. There are way too many “good things” in the world… this is my way to save a piece of it.

Anonymous

I am a huge user of evernote but you taught me things I didn’t know (email to it & share folders)!

Evernote is pretty much my e-brain and I’d be lost without it!

Todd

Kim, as always, great post and very insightful. The filing capability by Evernote sounds like something I would like. I am new to the tablet world (using an Android OS…Honeycomb) and have not found anything with the level of functionality I would like. Below is a description of what I would like to see from an app.

Ultimate goal is to go, as much as possible, paperless….
I am looking for the following:
• Handwriting automatically converted to text (I would use a stylus);
• Writing app. software with palm recognition so that while using my stylus, if my palm touches the screen, I do not alter functions, pull up a keyboard, etc.
• Send notes I drafted to a desktop and be able to read and edit (not sure it converting it to a word or other “universal” format is possible and still retain formatting)
• Download on my tablet a pdf and take notes onto it
• I am pretty sure that there are apps that enable me to edit word (.doc and .docx) documents
I want to turn my paper note taking world into a totally digital experience and not lose, to the extent possible, any of the pen/paper functionality.

Also, Imagine that you were given a piece of paper/document at a meeting and you started making notes on it, that is what I would like to be able to do. The equivalent of taking a downloaded document and not editing, but rather making notes on it, and then saving it with said notes. 

If anyone has a suggestion or a developer has a beta that needs to be tested, I would love to hear back.

Tessa

This is an old post but I’m wondering how you keep track of where you are in your pattern, as you knit, when viewing them in Evernote?

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