10 Evernote tips to organize your info in 2017

Whether you're an Evernote newbie or a proud power user, these 10 tips can elevate your digital note-taking to a new level of productivity.

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How to make Evernote work for you

It's not too late to set new business goals for 2017. In fact, with the hectic holidays behind us, now is a great time to focus on what you hope to achieve this year.

One of my goals is to learn new ways to use Evernote for productivity. It's already my go-to app for clipping web articles and organizing them into notebooks. But the cross-platform, freemium service is capable of much more. So I asked Evernote power users for tips on how to get better organized in 2017, using Evernote. Here's a set of clever, and sometimes unexpected, ways to use Evernote tags, notebooks, table of contents and other tools to streamline your workflows.

02 share goals
Joshua Zerkel

1. Keep your goals in Evernote and share them

You can write your goals in Evernote and share them with others, according to Joshua Zerkel, Evernote's director of global community. "When you share goals with the people who can help support you, you're letting them know you've decided to make important changes and they can help encourage you."

"It's important to set goals to see how you're doing throughout the quarter and year," Zerkel says. After you write goals down as Evernote notes, you should collectively share them in a notebook with others. "This helps keep team members accountable and offers more collaboration to assist others in meeting their goals (like other members on my community team)."

Here's a quick primer on how to share notes.

03 create detailed notes job candidates
Nicholas Kinports

2. Create detailed 'Evernotes' on job candidates

When interviewing job candidates, take notes that include key points the applicant makes, as well as follow-up action items, says Nicholas Kinports, executive vice president of strategy for NOTICE, a social content agency. "This helps me track what we're expecting to receive from the candidate and if the response matches the discussion," he says.

You can also add the candidates' PDF resumes to notes, which are keyword-searchable (a $70-a-year Evernote Premium account is required to search PDFs), as well as offer letters. And you can share the notes with colleagues, too, for additional input. Keeping candidate notes helps you make better hiring decisions and can come in handy in the future, if you meet a former candidate again, Kinports says.

Here's how to save PDFs to Evernote.

04 use templates
Melissa Ward

3. Use Evernote templates as prompts when talking to clients

Evernote templates are a big time-saver and can help you be consistent in your interactions with clients, according to Melissa Ward, managing partner of website-design and digital-marketing firm NewWard Development. They can also help you remember what you need to do during those interactions.

Ward created an Evernote notebook called "Templates," which includes forms for client intake, marketing personas, blog posts and a marketing calendar. "When I want to create a new client intake note, I go to the needed template, do a 'select all,' create a new note in my client notebook, and paste the template in there." The template prompts her on what to ask new clients, and she shares the notes with clients so they can add information, as well.

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4. Create detailed contacts with Evernote and LinkedIn

"Networking is a huge part of growing a business, and sometimes it's hard to keep track of prospective clients' contact details," says Mike Everett, chief recon officer of Layer 8 Recon, a social-media and private-investigation firm.

Everett quickly scans business cards using the iOS Evernote app, a feature he believes "not many users know about." (Business card scanning also works with Evernote on Android.) When a scan is complete, you can add a person to your phone's contact database, or contact them directly from Evernote via SMS, email or phone. If you're logged into LinkedIn, Evernote automatically searches for and pulls information from the contact's LinkedIn profile.

Here's how to scan business cards into Evernote using a smartphone.

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James A. Martin

5. Use Scannable to digitize documents

Here's an Evernote tip from me: Use the free Scannable app (iOS only) to quickly turn paper documents into PDFs, which you can then save in Evernote, send in email, or import into Dropbox, iCloud, OneNote, Google Drive or another installed app.

The scan process is lightning-fast. You just aim your iPhone camera at a document and Scannable automatically captures and crops (if needed) the page. If it's a multi-page document, you can move the first page out of camera range after capturing it and replace it with additional pages. The scans are clean and legible. You can also capture whiteboards, receipts and business cards.

However, Scannable lacks optical character recognition (OCR), so it's important to use descriptive keywords when you name documents.

07 break tasks into notebooks
Valerie Streif

6. Break down tasks into notebooks and set reminders

"I use Evernote every day to stay on top of tasks," says Valerie Streif, a senior advisor with Mentat, a service for jobseekers. "I break down my different areas of tasks, such as content creation, responding to reporter queries, and answering customer questions, into individual notebooks." From there, Streif uses Evernote's checklist and reminders features to create to-do lists with alerts for task categories.

"Reminder alerts are especially key for me, because when working remotely, it can be easy to forget important deadlines," Streif says. She also recommends sharing to-do lists with others on your team, which can be "incredibly beneficial if a lot of employees work remotely, or if it's difficult to organize a meeting across departments."

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7. Connect Evernote to your project management system

"I take copious meeting notes in Evernote," says Sean Linehan, director of product at freight-logistics company Flexport. "But my team doesn't manage projects in Evernote. This creates a disconnect between where I'm recording information and where my team is accessing information."

One solution? You could connect Evernote to your team's project management system using Zapier, a freemium app and workflow automation platform. Using Zapier, you can connect Evernote to Trello, Asana, Slack and JIRA, which Flexport uses. After setting up Zapier's JIRA-Evernote integration, you should create an Evernote notebook called "JIRA." "When you create a note that's actionable for your team, move it into the JIRA notebook, and Zapier will automatically create it as a task in JIRA," Linehan says.

09 use toc to organize info

8. Use Evernote's Table of Contents to organize info

Onboarding new employees, especially remote ones, can be a challenge, according to Ian Howells, founder of LawFirm.hosting, which offers WordPress hosting for law firms. But you can organize shared training notes for team members using Evernote's Table of Contents (TOC) feature.

A TOC is a note with links to other notes, and it makes it easy for new employees or contractors to get the information they need quickly, Howells says. You can add a TOC to any notebook. To create a TOC, select the notes you want to include, then click the "Create Table of Contents Note" button in the resulting menu.

TOCs are also helpful for organizing travel arrangements and other information.

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Frank Gerber

9. Track progress by moving notes between notebooks

Evernote can help you track the progress of projects, business deals, job candidates and more, just by creating notebooks and dragging and dropping between them, according to Frank Gerber, an Evernote consultant.

For example, if you're tracking the progress of a potential deal, you can create a note about the deal and put it in Evernote's Inbox. When you're ready for input from others, you just drag the note to a "Needs Discussion" notebook and then share it with colleagues for feedback. Alternatively, you might drag the note to a "Reject — Not a Good Fit" or "Reject — Consider Later" notebook, if the deal doesn't look promising. The idea is to create notebooks for each stage of a process, and then drag and drop notes between them to indicate status.

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James A. Martin

10. Track progress and status using Evernote tags

"A typical mistake business users make is to set up a single shared notebook for the whole company and fit dozens or even hundreds of notes in it," says Olga Tsubiks, a self-employed marketing, data analytics and visualization expert. "A better approach is to set up one notebook per project and use tags to manage workflows."

For example, all to-dos could go in a "Task Management" notebook. In this notebook, you might add one of two tags to a note: "to do" or "done." For bigger tasks, create a "Project Management Notebook" and tag notes with "to do," "in progress" or "done." You can then sort tasks by their status using the tags you add, Tsubiks says.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.