Today was a weird day weather-wise: temperature started high (yesterday was 24 degrees C, May temperatures for this part of Japan) then the sky darkened, it rained and the temperature fell (4 degrees C @ 5 pm). Apart from a short trip to the video store and to buy something for lunch, my daughter and I have stayed indoors.

I’ve spent much of the weekend happily trawling through SF author Rubin’s excellent series of posts about using Evernote to go paperless. Rubin does not use Evernote for Getting Things Done (he prefers a geeky program called ToDo.txt).

Last year I re-organized my Evernote structure to include a GTD component, but Rubin’s prime purpose for Evernote is to “remember everything”, i.e. as a timeline or record of what he and his family does, goes, buys, creates, reads, etc.

This has prompted me to review what I use Evernote for.

One things I’ve learned is that there can be as many organizational schemes as there are people using Evernote. There is no wrong or right way to do it. What I describe below works for me because it meets the goals I set out from the very start. And while the organizational scheme you choose may look entirely different, it should be based on a clear set of goals. You should be asking yourself: why are you trying to organize your notes in the first place?

via Going Paperless: A Closer Look at How I Organize My Notes In Evernote | Jamie Todd Rubin.

He offers his list of objectives for using Evernote. What’s yours?

  • Capture all paper that comes into my life in digital format.
  • Capture all events and milestones in a timeline.
  • Have the simplest possible unambiguous taxonomy.
  • Maximize the automatic creation and organization of notes
  • Find what I am looking for in less than 5 seconds.

The “timeline” use of Evernote is something I had not really thought of before (though as Rubin points out, it fits exactly Evernote’s slogan “remember everything”), but I can see advantages, e.g. creating a digital house (have you ever found yourself at the store, unable to remember the exact size of something in your home?), and keeping track of books read, software installed, purchases made, children’s milestones, year-end baselines (sounds particularly interesting and potentially useful).

Rubin is also an enthusiast of automation and finds ways to automate his Evernoting as much as possible. Some involves scripting with Perl and simla stuff which I’m too lazy to learn, but there’re clever things with IFTTT that I might try out (tho I can’t seem to get IFTTT to work with Twitter).

Rubin’s also alerted me to an Evernote addon or plugin called Clearly which does what I’ve been using Readability (the great thing about Readability is being able to send a copy of the stripped-down article to my Kindle and then read it on my iPad later – a completely wireless and automatic transfer). But Clearly does something which neither Readability nor Evernote does and that is allow you to highlight text in a clipping.

Yet another thing I learned from Rubin’s series on going paperless is a reminder to make greater use of Evernote’s search facilities. This involves learning more search syntax. Here’s Rubin’s post on his 10 most frequently used saved searches.

One I’m going to use straight away is “created:day-7” to bring up all the notes I created in the last week. The point of this is to see exactly what I actually use Evernote for (rather than what I think I use it for).

 I recommend doing this before you start creating lots of tags and notebooks, because you may find that your business requirements, or your goal in scanning in documents in the first place dictate how you should organize your information.

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