The Evernote Episode

With the advent of Evernote firing 15% of its staff, many are speculating a downward spiral for the world’s most favorite note taking app. Why is this such a big deal? There are a number of reasons, however, for me and many like me the potential impact is huge. I have been using Evernote for over a decade and my workflow has been fine-tuned with the note-taking app at its center. Additionally, there is a tonne of data already in there that would need to be migrated if the company decides to fold.

In this little write-up, I am trying to convince myself that there is an alternative universe out there that has and will continue to survive post the apocalypse that is the end of Evernote.

So what exactly do I mean by workflow here? Well, let’s see. I wake up in the morning with a sorted list of important tasks which I organized the night before. I then start tackling those tasks. If I finish something beforehand, I scan my lists for unscheduled things that I can fit in and get that done and the day progresses thereon.

Next, if I am researching something, the relevant data is clipped directly from my browser and curated, tagged and sorted for reference. Similarly, discussions are recorded and captured as a record. Day-to-day activities are also logged in a diary of sorts for each month in case I ever need to see what I accomplished.

Then there are my email rules that automatically funnel bills, receipts, statements, notices etc to their respective places and give me the ability to create tasks from them. Physical receipts are digitized and stored via the camera capture and shared with my better half for budgeting and planning.

You’d think that is it but there is more. If ever I am in need of some data such as account numbers or banking details or even coupon codes that can save some money, I can quickly type it in the search box on my phone app and voila!

Most of my blogs, outlines, drafts etc are available in a notebook with appropriate tags and references. My tagging structure itself is a personal statement and helps me find things faster. So, everything from web pages to my favorite tweets, reside in my Evernote database. The question now is can I live without it?

OneNote comes very close, BUT it lacks certain features with search being the biggest one. The other biggest issue for me the UI itself which looks like crayons and chalkboard. Instead, I am going to break down things and instead of putting all my eggs in one basket, I am going to pick my battles one by one and hope it works out.

Here we… go!

Battle #1 Tasks

Evernote is not designed to be a Task Manager by itself though Bullet Journalling comes naturally to Evernote especially if you take a look at ‘The Secret Weapon’ blogs. In terms of a Bullet Journal or BuJo, a page is dedicated to each day and tasks listed out. Then, completed tasks and activities are ticked off which also give you a log of what was accomplished in a given day.

In my case, I have been using Asana for work and Google Calendar for time scheduling for some time now. Hence, task lists will now be part of my Asana app. In Asana, I have a board with four columns for the Eisenhower Matrix and to schedule something, I just assign it to myself the night before and it pops up in my task list for the day.

The reminders in Evernote were a way for me to quickly jot down to-dos that I could work on at a particular date and time. For example, I have an idea for a blog post or want to send an email with some information, then I would create a note with a timer on it. This activity will now be migrated to Google Keep which allows me to add reminders which pop up on my Google Calendar.

Honestly speaking, it is proving to be a slightly better solution already.

Battle #2 Article Research

OneNote comes close to replacing Evernote here since the web clipper extension has matured a lot. It does not support tags which is kind of a bummer though search works inside a notebook which means I can add keywords for reference.

I have also had OneNote crash a couple of times on my MacBook which is not a great thing and I am hoping things will get better with time. I won’t have access to anything offline on the phone which also sucks but I will have to make do.

I am not moving my research activities to OneNote completely at this time though I feel it may come to it if I lose Evernote. Bottom line, I will use Evernote and keep touching OneNote every once in a while.

Battle #3 Daily Record and Journal

For taking notes in meetings as well as capturing information, I have found that OneNote does things pretty well. Creating a separate Notebook for my journal and notes was a much better experience since I don’t really need tags here.

Inside my Journal Notebook, I have a section for Daily Log, Important Captures, Meetings etc. I add a new page for every day and every meeting and start typing or recording. Viola. In Evernote, navigating around notebooks and stack on the mobile app was a tad bit cumbersome.

This part I am pretty happy with.

Battle #4 Preserving Emails And Receipts

This was simpler than you could imagine. I just created a new email account and let Gmail’s rules do the rest. Pfft! For the receipts, I experimented with a couple of other apps including the Google Drive scanner but ultimately went with CamScanner on Android to scan printed receipts and then upload to Google Drive. 15Gb should last a bit.

For the budgeting and planning, I added some Google Sheets and that was that.

Battle #5 Specific Data

Ever since I moved to Canada, I have had a consistent need to access my landing papers as well as passport and PR card data. Now I never kept it in the cloud anyway though I have to admit I did save my account numbers in Evernote.

All this data is now in the internal storage of my Android Phone. This makes it available offline and since my device is encrypted, it should keep it safer than Evernote. Some details I have decided to memorize instead which make things even better.

Coupons have been moved to Google Keep archived till the day I need them with a reminder set to the time they expire wherein I will delete them.

Battle #6 Blogging

I have never been happy with Evernote for drafting blogs and the alternative I have chosen is just amazing. After someone suggested iA writer, I looked up other markdown editors and I found Typora for Mac and GhostWriter for Windows and Linux which are just plain awesome.

I created a folder structure for myself in DropBox and pointed the editors to the folders. Bingo and would you believe it, I am writing this article in Typora until I feel like putting the money into buying iA writer.

Conclusion

There is more than one way to skin the preverbal cat and this is my first experiment by shifting things away from Evernote. This process will eventually make me less reliant on search and make me think about where I am putting certain pieces of information. I am sure you already have an opinion and a better way to do the same.

Please let me know in the comments and I will be sure to try it out as well.

Cheers, IP

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