Saturday, January 02, 2010

Evernote As The Ubiquitous Capture Tool

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I first read Getting Things Done by David Allen back around 2006. Ever since then, I have been trying to find the right way to make GTD work for me. While GTD has been a great methodology, I never found the right combination of tools for me. I think Evernote has finally evolved into the product that will finally be my trusted capture tool for all the information that comes at me from day to day.

Mobile Technology Makes the Difference

Within the last year, mobile technology has started to produce products that have enabled the use of Evernote as the one destination for all your life's information. Smartphones have started including auto-focus on their cameras; I have plenty of photos from my old phone that are fuzzy and not indexed because of the lack of auto-focus. Internet speeds have been much improved with 3G; if it takes longer to upload a note than to have just written something down on paper, what's the benefit? Phones capable of running robust applications are out on the market; the phones of yesteryear simply did not have the right stuff.

Prior to today's products, using Evernote while away from the computer was inconvenient. You would do it if you really had to do it; but it wasn't your first choice. Today, I do not hesitate to use Evernote to capture information on the go. So, Evernote has not so much evolved; rather, the technology that helps us add to Evernote has evolved.

I run a T-Mobile G1, which runs Android. Even with this first draft of a Google phone, I am able to experience Evernote as I'm sure the creators meant it to be experienced. It's probably more fun with the newer souped-up models.

Why Evernote is Ready to Capture All Your Information

Aside from the technology improvements that make Evernote a viable mobile information tool, there are some features that make it worthwhile as a place to put your information.

Auto-Indexing

As you may know, Evernote indexes all written text so that you can easily find all your information just by running a search. This includes handwritten text in photos, PDFs for paid subscribers, and soon audio. Auto-indexing means that you do not have to spend as much time organizing and sorting your notes; Evernote does it for you. This is why you can trust the service; because you can find what you put into it.

Sharing

It was not too long ago that Evernote added shared Notebooks as a feature. On the free version, you can share a Notebook in Evernote with somebody; but they can only view the item. Under the Premium version, you can share the Notebook and give others access to edit your documents or add new ones. This is the holy grail that sold me. This is like having a shared network drive with anybody. The ability to not only keep track of my own personal information; but to allow others to access and contribute to some of that is crucial. It is the essence of having an Intranet.

Evernote Is Your Own Personal Intranet

I've worked at large corporations with very well organized intranets. Any offer, discount, problem, legal requirement, contact, policy, procedure, form, or data was indexed and searchable. Often, making decisions for the company was easy because the information was readily available and even guided you to doing the right thing. By capturing all the minutiae of your day, you are building up a history that can eventually help you make decisions faster and more effectively simply by running a search on your notes. Evernote gives you that power. Having the ability to share Notebooks also allows you to delegate some of that power and experience.

Clearly, for me, Evernote will be my organizational tool of choice for 2010.


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