Most of us are familiar with Evernote's value in the office setting, but Evernote is also one of those pieces of software that performs equally as well at home as it does in the office. In this blog post, I'll share with you eight great ways that you can leverage Evernote to be more productive and stay organized at home.
- Organize long-term storage items. If you're packing away items for long-term storage in your garage, attic or in an off-site storage location, nothing is worse than trying to remember exactly which box you put a particular item in. But fear no longer because you can use Evernote to help you find those packed-away items. First, see if you can recruit another helper to be your “Evernote Scribe” because it definitely helps to have another person do the recording while you do the packing. First, get an empty box and write a big, bold number one on it. Meanwhile, your Evernote scribe creates a note labeled "storage box 1." This note can be nested in a dedicated notebook, or simply with a tag. Your scribe then documents the items that you are packing into that box. After box one is finished, move on to box number two, repeating the same procedure as box one. Rinse and repeat, till your packing is done. One of the keys to making this work is to make sure that you write the number of each box on the same side for all of them, so you can quickly scan the room and identify where a particular box is located. When you're stacking boxes, you'll want to stack boxes sequentially, so that you can locate the box you need later. Also, you'll want to make sure that your scribe is documenting items as completely as possible. The more keywords that they can put into a note, the easier it will be to find those items later within Evernote. When it comes time to find something that you packed away years ago, you simply run a search in Evernote for that item and you'll know exactly where it is.
- Shopping list 2.0. Most of us know that we can create lists in Evernote, but one of the true gems of Evernote is having the ability to share lists with other people. This really comes in handy when one or more people in a household share the responsibility of doing the grocery shopping. When you share a list in Evernote, it automatically syncs with the other person's desktop application as well as their smart phone. Let's say, for instance, that Frank, on the way back from work, stops by the store and picks up groceries and checks the items off the shared Evernote list. But Frank discovers that the store was out of onions and ketchup. Jane gets out of work a bit later than Frank and, before heading back home, she checks her shared Evernote grocery list and sees that onions and ketchup are still remaining, so she stops by a grocery store near her work to pick up those items before heading home. This is just one application of a shared list, but it can be applied to many other types of small projects.
- Capture and organize your recipes. Are you an in-home culinary wizard? Do you love trying new exciting recipes? Are you plagued with having stacks of magazines, clippings and index cards floating around all over your house because you haven't found a good organizing system for them yet? Evernote can rescue you from this mess by housing your recipes safely on your computer and in the cloud - not to mention protect your recipes from oil stains and cake batter. Not only will Evernote house all your recipes digitally, but it will also allow you to search for recipes by keywords or tags because of the optical character recognition (OCR) technology that Evernote has. Think of the culinary power you'll have when you're able to instantly find a recipe in your archive just by searching for a specific ingredient. There are two main ways to get those recipes into Evernote. If you have access to a home scanner, then you can scan and upload those recipes into Evernote. If you don't have a home scanner, then you can use the Evernote app for your smart phone to capture that recipe. The Evernote app actually has a widget that is specifically made for capturing text and will automatically adjust the contrast of the photo to optimize the readability of that text. Just snap a photo with your smart phone and it'll get sent to your Evernote.
- Eliminate user manuals without losing important information. User manuals, whether they be for appliances, software, or geeky gadgets are a necessary evil. User manuals are a part of Murphy's Law - we want to throw them away because 99 percent of the time, we'll never read them, but the day after we throw those manuals out, something breaks or goes wrong with the product and we curse ourselves for having thrown that manual away. An easy method to get rid of those pesky manuals without losing any of the information that it contains is to find that manual on the internet, usually at the manufacturer’s website. Download it, if it's downloadable and stick it into Evernote for safekeeping. If the manual is not downloadable, then create a note with the URL of that manual and it will serve the same purpose. As a last ditch resort, you can always just scan the hardcopy of your manual into Evernote and then recycle it.
- Comparison shopping. Evernote can help you become a street-wise shopper by supplying you with intel for medium to large ticket items. With Evernote loaded onto your smart phone, you can snap a quick photo of a product along with the price and relevant notes and you can compare that with other stores that sell the same item as you visit them. Armed with this kind of knowledge, you'll never be suckered in by a salesman's greasy sales pitch.
- Your own personal book finder system. Do you keep so many books in your home or office that you have trouble finding them? Libraries use the Dewey Decimal system to keep their books organized, but it's far too labor intensive for the average person to implement in their home library. Evernote can help you create a functional book finder system that's a piece of cake to implement. First, you'll need to label each shelf of each bookcase. I recommend a simple labeling scheme of assigning a letter to each bookcase and then a number for each shelf within that bookcase. So if I assign the letter 'A' to a bookcase and it has four shelves, then I would label each shelf as A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-4. Next, you'll need to make sure that all your books on the book shelf are facing spine-out and are lined up in such a way that the spine titles are readable. Take out your smart phone, or digital camera, and take a photo of each individual shelf, making sure that you get all the books in that particular shelf along with the shelf label. Lastly, get those photos into Evernote and organize them either by notebook or by tag for quick reference. Evernote will apply its OCR technology to make those book titles searchable within its database, so all you need to do is search for the title of the book that you're looking for and Evernote will pull up the photo that you took with the shelf label on it. And don't forget to put the book back on the same shelf that you pulled it from.
- Keep a record of important serial numbers & photos. Keeping a log of serial numbers for your high-value items is important for warranty and insurance claims, as well as police reports in the unfortunate event that they are stolen. Evernote not only makes collecting and maintaining a record of serial numbers a breeze, but you can also add a photo of the item as well. All you need to do is snap a few photos of the item, along with the serial number and any relevant notes and Evernote will keep that information safe and at the ready for you. Now let's say that your son's bike was just stolen. When the police show up to take a stolen property report, not only can you supply them with a description of the bike, but you can also give them the serial number and a photo of the bike. The police officer then inputs that serial number into their stolen property database and a week later, it appears at a pawn shop on the other side of town. Stolen property recovered, all thanks to Evernote.
- Have restaurant delivery menus at the ready. There's nothing more frustrating than coming home late from a long day at work, hungrier than bear out of hibernation, only to find your fridge completely empty. And on top of that, your favorite restaurant delivery menu has gone walking off somewhere. Evernote can't help you with the being hungry part, but it can help you make sure that you never lose your collection of restaurant delivery menus ever again. The next time that you get a delivery menu, simply scan it into Evernote. You can tag it if you want, but most menus are filled with enough text and keywords that you'll be able to pull it up just by doing a quick search within Evernote. Hunger solved, grumpiness averted.