Freedom Fridays: Evernote for Research

I'm making this week's Freedom Friday quick and dirty, because TinyFest Midwest is this weekend, and I have been prepping for the last two weeks. If you're unfamiliar, this is one of three tiny house festivals linked across the U.S.: West Coast, East Coast, and - you guessed it - Midwest. I'm excited for this year's fest as I am currently making plans for my own tiny house, and I needed a place to organize and keep my research.* Enter Evernote.

I first discovered Evernote about 11 years ago, when I needed to find a better system of bookmarking. I had gone through several laptop switchovers, and I was tired of the backup/export/import method of keeping track of my bookmarks (this was before Google took over my life by linking literally everything I use in an efficient and, frankly, disturbing fashion). Half the time, I didn't actually need most of the bookmarks anymore, or couldn't find what I needed. It was a time drain, and that was becoming untenable as I got geared up to begin my work on System Andromeda. 

I needed a research app. I needed to be able to do everything in it: compose, make lists, save basic files, and notate bookmarked webpages, all organized within folders with tags to link everything. I felt like I was looking for a miracle. Finally, I found an article that seemed it had been written for me. The guy was espousing the virtues of Evernote, and they were ticking off all my needs. Best yet, it was free...and you know how I love "free".

I checked into the app, and was immediately pulled in by the elephant logo, and it's assertion that it could be my "second brain." I felt I was in need of an extra brain, so that was just fine by me. After playing around a bit with it, I was hooked. It had way more options than I even knew I was looking for. Here are just a few things it does that make it amazing:
  • Organization - Not only can I put "Notes" in their own "Notebook" (works like a folder), but I also can then add these Notebooks to "Stacks", further organizing. In addition, it has a basic tagging system (like TickTick), making it easier to cross-access notes for different tasks.
  • Bookmarks - Evernote has web clippers for both desktop and smartphones, and they are simple and quick to pick folder and tags to keep it organized from the start. The desktop clipper also allows you to choose between the whole page (with or without highlights), a section of a page, a link to the page, or a screenshot.
  • Notation - I can annotate bookmarks, highlight text, delete unnecessary page filler. It's a great note-taking tool in general (see below).
  • Editor - They've upped their game with the editor since I first joined. It now has a ton of paragraph and style options (lots of fonts), and the "insert table" option has also become far more sophisticated. 
  • Lists & Reminders - This was one of the extras I hadn't noted as a "need" in my search, but put Evernote over the top as my choice. You can make a check list in a note, and you can also make "Reminder" notes, with options for date & time. For a while this was my task app as well. (more on that below)
  • Other Cool Stuff - You can scan documents, do a voice recording, make a handwritten note, and attach a Google Doc in addition to regular file attachments. There are options to share documents with others, and a premium "business" option for company team projects.
I want to note that some of these options (such as the Google Doc attachment and updated Editor), are newer additions. Evernote is constantly updating, a sign that they are committed to quality and aren't going anywhere. And it's still free for individuals.

You may be wondering why I spent the entire last post praising TickTick, when I have this gem on hand. Well, it's certainly not the fault of either app. I simply realized that I preferred to keep Evernote as my archive. I loved using it for reminders, but found that I would get distracted by my veritable "Disneyland of Research". There also aren't as many options for scheduling tasks in Evernote as TickTick, so that's something to keep in mind.

Furthermore, I was falling into the same trap with bookmarks as I had before: bookmarking something to "look at later," and forgetting about it. My "archive" was getting unruly and ridiculous. I also didn't really love that I had to make an extra step to click regularly used sites. 

I realized I didn't really want a one-stop shop. I needed to keep things separate. I use TickTick for my tasks, keeping it simple and on schedule. I use Chrome for my regularly used bookmarks, like my favorite dictionary site or my Etsy shop, as well as temporary research which I pair with current work on Google Drive. And Evernote? Evernote is my permanent notes and research archive, for long-term work and compendiums of various knowledge. 

So, that's it. That's my Evernote story. I honestly haven't looked around to find out if there's something better out there, because I'm pretty happy with what I've got. So if you've never heard of it, or overlooked it in the past, now may be a great time to see if it's the right bookmarking, organization, and research app for you.

Happy Friday!

* If you want to read about my journey to make my tiny house, make sure to follow my blog, Ransomed Roads, and stay tuned for my Patreon account, coming soon, which will have exclusive coverage of that process.

Have an organization app you want to share? Hit me up in the comments below!

Note: I am in no way affiliated with Evernote, and am making no money off this recommendation. I don't own them; they don't own me.

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