Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to make Evernote "your own"

I'm a big of Evernote.  While it has been "catching on" with many Student Affairs Professionals across the country, I started using Evernote back in early 2011.  Armed with only an iPad, Evernote, and a wireless keyboard, I've been able to reduce my reliance on paper, reduce my storage footprint, and increase my productivity by avoiding paper files.  I've also avoided carrying a pen and paper for a little over three years now

The one question I often get is in the realm of ". . . I tried it and I couldn't get it to work for me."  I think that is often the result of some Evernote proponents suggesting a certain way to use Evernote. The beauty of Evernote is that no two people need to approach their utilization of it in the same way. For some, they love having everything in a folder and attaching tags to find notes later.  While I've played around with folders and tags, what I find is that the search feature of Evernote is so powerful that I'm actually more productive just dropping it all in the inbox.  Evernote automatically logs location, time, day, and premium users get pdf indexing which allows searching to happen in pdf files.  I sometimes refer to myself an "Evernote Slacker" but anyone who knows my productivity would never suspect that I utilize the program to do my digital organizing.

The other way that Evernote improves my productivity is that the program "lives" on all of my devices.  As long as I have a data connection, I can access Evernote from any device I own including a web interface.  I've yet to find something that provides that level of flexibility.  My phone of choice these days is the Samsung Galaxy S5.  As long as I have that device in my pocket, I can access anything I need within a few minutes.  

The other way that I find that Evernote helps with productivity is through Hyperlinks.  I will often reorganize notes by making hyperlinks within the software.  If I'm preparing to give a presentation or update to my supervisor, I'm able to quickly bring emails, documents, etc into one page that I can click through as if all of those materials were integrated into a webpage only available to me.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why the Surface 3 Pro is just ok

I must admit that I was sold by the Surface 3 commercial. Its a tablet and a laptop replacement? Could it be? Finally - one device that does everything I need?

Sadly, this commercial was a mirage. This device is a fantastic laptop but it is not a good tablet....yet. My biggest issue is the terrible PDF apps in the Windows store. The device has amazing hardware and a REAL pen that shows true handwriting but yet does not have a PDF app worth owning that utilizes the pen. How is that possible? The iPad has at least 5 PDF apps that are superior to the Surface 3 compatible apps. Ugh.

Until I see a new PDF app available that allows me to annotate PDFs, I give the Surface 3 a C+.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Its been a while since I've posted - way too long actually. I did a brown bag presentation on productivity apps today and promised to reboot this site.

If you're drowning in email and want to quickly archive messages, I highly recommend CloudMagic. It is available on android and on IOS. It also integrates well with Evernote, OneNote, and Pocket.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Evernote update - Reminders

Still waiting to try Evernote to organize your life?  Why?  Because it doesn't have a reminder system?  That excuse just recently went away for those of you still on the fence about a digital cloud document storage.  The ability to sit in a meeting, create a note, and simply click "reminder" on the iPad is a fabulous addition to the Evernote service.  Of course if you overutilize reminders this could become another "inbox." 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Organizing Evernote on IOS using MoveEver

Up until recently I have avoided organizing most of my notes in Evernote simply because I find myself using an IOS device (iPhone or iPad) most days and the Evernote app falls short.  The Evernote app requires far too many clicks and doesn't make it easy to change multiple file attributes.

Introducing...MoveEver.  I have to say that this app far exceeds my expectations and dare I say makes it a bit fun to organize notes and musings.  I have approximately 1600 notes in my inbox so I will be plugging away at them for several days.  With that said, I believe this program will accomplish my goal within 1/4 of the time the Evernote app might take.  If you haven't found MoveEver yet, I highly recommend you find it in the app store.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Can Skitch improve your damage billing process?

Thinking back to my days of living as a Residence Hall Director, I remember how difficult it was to decipher what RAs had scribbled onto the room condition report in order to appropriately bill students at the end of the year.  Arguments over ". . . that paint chip was there" or " . . .that drawing on the bedframe is from 1985" were common in the days of using a room condition report.

With tablets integrating more and and more into higher education, I wonder if the time has arrived to move towards a more graphical form of the room condition report with notes on photos as opposed to having a form.  While a perfect app hasn't been developed just yet, the ability to have students sign next to the photos they see at check-in would be more helpful than text attempting to describe quantity and quality of damages.

While a comprehensive app doesn't exist, an app does exist for taking photos and marking them up.  With the most recent update, I'm becoming a fan of Skitch.  The interface is user friendly and results are acceptable.  Above this post is a photo that I imported and marked up to show how Residence Life Professionals may utilize this tool as a means to improve their damage billing process.

I know that purchasing iPads to accomplish this task adds infrastructure costs.  However, I think the increased accuracy will help alleviate future concerns from parents and students int he damage billing process (most, not all).

Friday, January 25, 2013

Why do you need paper if you have an iPad?

At the time of typing this blog update, I've been traveling paper-free for the past 18 months.  While I continue to use a pen to sign the various paperwork that hits my desk, I haven't had any problems leaving the notepad and paper behind.  Even my use of Livescribe has reduced as I regularly grab my iPad on the way to meetings.  

I know that many people desire to be paper free. Unfortunately, many never get over the paper addiction   For readers that have no intention of giving up paper as a compliment to their iPad -I respect your freedom to do so.  However - for those that are struggling to kick the paper habit, I have a few ideas that may help 

1.  Always charge your iPad at night.  This is more of a habit that one needs to be in than a real concern for most users.  You need to start a habit of charging your iPad every night.  Even if it is close to a full charge, you need to plug it in.  If it's plugged in at night, both the iPad 2 and iPad 3 can go at least 8 hours using it constantly through meetings.  

2.  Use an external keyboard.  This is obviously a preference issue but I just don't believe its possible to  type as fast with the onboard keyboard as you can with an external.  On the rare day that I forget my external keyboard, I find myself operating at a much slower pace.  In terms of stylus usage, I think that has its place for drawing and signing documents but for business note taking it just doesn't seem to be as effective (plus it's too much like writing on paper).  This is my opinion and the path I took to evolving beyond pen and paper.

3.  Find a note-taking program you like.  I'll be the first to admit that out of the box, the iPad has limitations.  You need to find a note taking program that works for you.  I am an Evernote Evangelist.  No doubt about it.  However, that isn't the only program in town.  Do some research and try out other programs if Evernote doesn't seem to meet your needs.  

4.  Just carry your iPad - survive without paper.  This has been mentioned in other entries but it can't be overstated.  You can adjust to living without paper - you just have to start leaving it behind.  Apps continue to develop for the iPad.  Need to make a quick note?  Give Siri a try.  I've found the latest update to be much better at recognizing my voice. 

At this point, I can't call what I'm doing an experiment - I've fully adopted my iPad as my work solution.  I encourage others to consider doing the same.