Counting the ways: How I use Evernote to be productive

Evernote is a multi-platform application that is built for note-taking and many other activities.

You make notes, save files and do other related tasks. You find it on the Web, on your phone (iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry or on your computer – PC or Mac) The basic version of Evernote is free and just about everything you put into it is indexed and searchable. Evernote’s slogan is “Remember Everything.” (Watch a quick introduction video here).

I have used Evernote for about 142 years. I have over 12,000 notes. To give you a better idea of what you can do with Evernote, below are some of the ways I use Evernote to be productive:

1. Making notes. Notes about clients, about cases, about doctors appointments etc. . . I make the note on whatever device is handy (computer, tablet, phone) and then it syncs across all my devices. It is just “there” when I need it without having to think about it.

2. To Do Lists. Evernote is my primary to-do list maker. To spruce things up a bit, I use the check-box images to create items that I can actually “check-off” as I complete them. The nifty thing is I can add to the “to do” list as things come to my mind, regardless of where I am.

3. Remembering items with photos. I take pictures of products, potential gifts, groceries, and the like that want to remember. I put them into Evernote where I can label them, index and then have pictures with me all the time. Particularly, I have taken pictures of the items my family wants for Christmas and saved them in Evernote so I don’t forget.

4. Health Records. I try to take a picture on my phone of all my medical records, prescriptions, and doctor’s notes and put them into Evernote so that everything is in one place, in order.

5. Drafting documents. I do most of the first drafts of letters, pleadings, memos, blog posts, and just about anything else that needs to be written in Evernote. The word processing capabilities of the service are improving on both the desktop client and mobile. When I get close to the final on the documents, I usually email them to the legal assistant or copy them into Word. Composing on Evernote means that I have access to my documents at every stage and in all places.

6. Collecting Research. I use Evernote to gather and organize legal research that I find in my primarily legal-research-based software. I email and copy and paste the results into Evernote and create notes that track everything from multiple sources. In addition to legal research, this works well for simply researching a product or service you are thinking of purchasing. Evernote has plugins for most browsers that allow you to send web pages and links directly to it.

7. Remembering where I parked. It sounds silly, but sometimes when I park in a large garage, I can’t recall which spot on which floor I left my car. To remedy this problem, I take a photo of the floor and space and save it in Evernote.

8. Organizing travel details. When we travel, we usually have hotel reservations, plane reservations, sometimes rental car reservations, and often info on things we want to do or see. I collect of this information in Evernote, create a notebook for it, and then create notes for each activity.

9. Organizing Documents. For some things on which I am working, I will put documents (usually PDF) into Evernote to create a notebook of documents needed at a deposition, drafting a pleading, or simply talking with a client.

10. Bible Study Notes. I attend Bible Study Fellowship weekly and I make notes on the lecture in Evernote, tag all of them “BSF” and then everything is in one place as I ponder things.

11. Interviewing People. When I interview people as witnesses in a case, I usually take notes directly into Evernote on a tablet (the iPad 2) or I take handwritten notes then take photos of the notes and load them into Evernote. In any event, I have all my notes for each person and each case organized by tags and in a notebook. When I need one, regardless of where I am, it is easy to find.

12. Saving articles. Although there are many other ways to do it (Google Reader, Instapaper to name a couple), I will often send the page containing articles I am interested in Evernote so I can find them and read them later.

13. Grocery List. While I can think of many items I need at the store, by the time I arrive there, I can only remember a few. I solve that problem by making a list in Evernote, wherever I am and then the list is with me at the store (through my phone).

14. Audio Note. Evernote allows you to make short audio notes using your phone or computer and you can organize them the same way as any other note. If need to need to get a few things down quickly after a meeting, I can record audio and save it in Evernote.


What are some of the ways that you use Evernote to be more productive?

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."


Angela Booth

Another Evernote fan. I had to giggle when I saw #7. I thought I was the only person who did this — I’ve always felt foolish. I feel better now, knowing that others do it too. 🙂

Shawn Roberts


Thanks for comment, I’m sorry it took me so long to respond.

I indeed a big fan of Evernote.

The parking thing is surprisingly simple yet very useful!



Thank you very much for the comment Ryan!

I don’t use any handwriting recognition on anything because my handwriting is not recognizable 🙂

As far as indexing handwritten notes and images, I believe Evernote can do this. First, the premium verison of the Evernote is required (not terribly expensive though, $5 per month or $5 per year

This post provides some guidance on the issue:

And this post also has a good discussion about handwritten notes in Evernote.

Wow, Shawn, you use evernote for a lot more than I do. I’d consider myself a fairly light user of evernote, but it’s an awesome tool. One thing I didn’t see mentioned is evernote’s ability to read and index handwritten notes and photographs. I often handwrite notes in Penultimate and then email them to my evernote account, where they’re indexed and searchable (it does an amazing job of recognizing even my horrible handwriting). I also will sometimes take a photo of a sign or document that I need the information from and email that to evernote, It does the same thing, indexing the text and making it searchable.

Your list here has inspired me to find more useful ways to use evernote on a more regular basis. It really is an amazing tool.