Evernote – in the beginning
I’ve been using Evernote since 2009 and in the early days it was an essential tool to manage the information in my personal and writing workflows. Capturing information from the web, storing PDFs and scanning in receipts, instructions and bills helped me manage my digital life. I even bought a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner to help get analogue paper into Evernote.
Evernote – the wilderness years
However, over the years I found myself using Evernote less as other digital tools took over things like task management, capturing ideas and storing files. As bills and receipts were sent to me digitally rather than in paper, the need to scan in documents became less. I used apps including ToDoIst, Trello and Toodledo to keep track of my tasks and Notion and Obisidian to keep a record of ideas and information for articles and books I was writing.
These all worked fine for a while but moving between apps to accomplish tasks and writing projects added friction to my daily work.
Perhaps I lack the discipline to actually use structured workflows that incorporate different apps. I liked planning and setting these systems up but they never lasted for long. As I get older, I crave more simplicity in my life, not more rules to follow.
Until earlier this year I kept my Evernote account ( a paid one) but used it less and less. I would occasionally add web clippings and even set up a structured tagging system to help manage research materials but it was never at the centre of my personal and professional information management.
Last year I experimented with Obsidian to document ideas and link writing projects. This worked quite well but it was one more thing to learn and integrate. Roam and Notion were also tried but abandoned for the same reasons.
Evernote – a new beginning
Then, several months ago I noticed Evernote was adding new features. I knew they had completely rewritten the code with a view to allowing more features and a more unified user experience across different platforms and devices and was curious what this might mean in practice. 3 of these recent features have brought me back into the Evernote fold as a regular user:
- The Home Screen – being able to set up a front-end to show the notes I use most has transformed my Evernote experience from an often muddled set of notebooks and notes to one where I feel more in control.
- Tasks – the ability to create tasks on individual notes (rather than checkbox lists) and have those tasks integrated into a single list of to do’s is a game changer for me. Evernote’s task options are limited compared to dedicated apps such as ToDoIst and Toodledo but that simplicity is what I like. Create a task, have it show up in a single list and then tick it off when completed is all I need. Keeping it simple means I am more likely to use it.
- Scratch pad – having this on the home page allows me to quickly jot down ideas and then go back to them when I have more time. I was using Google Keep for that but being able to do all these things in one app makes for a much better user experience.
More changes I’d like to see in Evernote
I know the roadmap for Evernote still has a way to go and there are some features I’d like to see:
- have all tasks from across different notes show up on my To Do note which I have pinned to my home page – I don’t think this is possible at the moment;
- the ability to add and tick off tasks from within the widget of my pinned To Do list on the home page without having to open the note up;
- better linking between notes – Roam and Obisidian make good use of markup language to do this and it would be good to see Evernote do something similar. I believe better linking between notes is coming soon but I’m not sure how it will work;
- better annotation of PDFs within Evernote. Annotating PDFs has been possible for a while but it is very limited. Something along the lines of Liquidtext would be great.
So there is work still to be done but the last few months are encouraging. Whether I am still using Evernote as much in a year’s time remains to be seen. However, the less apps I need to use to get my work done the better as far as I’m concerned and Evernote is on the right track with that.