Back-to-School With Evernote

Evernote

It’s no secret among my friends and family that I have an Evernote addiction. Between Evernote and my personal scanner, I cannot decide which one is more important to my work and personal life. I started out with the free version of Evernote, but quickly figured out that the Premium version was the only way to go based on the quantity of documents I store as well as the number of times I must access stuff offline. Suffice to say, if you’re not using Evernote, I highly suggest giving it a try — only then will you be able to truly determine if it’s a beneficial service or something you can do without.

I’m not in school any longer. (But I still consider myself a life-long student and am always learning new skills and subjects.) But every now and then when thinking back to high school and college, I shake my head and think how useful today’s technology (both hardware and software) would have been to me. How might I have used it? Glad you asked.

Below are some links to some articles that Evernote provided to me, and I highly encourage you or your student to check them out.

One Student’s Evernote Tips
Another Set of Evernote Tips for Students
More Student Evernote Tips

The above links are great, and they include a few suggestions that I don’t know if I would have thought of in school, but here are a few more to consider:

* Audio notes can be uploaded and stored in notebooks, so take advantage of that! I’m not advocating recording an entire lecture, but there may be times when having a recording of something might be useful to a class — a guest lecturer providing his/her contact information, for example. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask someone to repeat a source of information, a web address, or other bit of info — just open up the Evernote app on your mobile phone, press the Record button, and you’re in business.

* Shared notebooks are a gift from Evernote, so be sure to check them out. If you’re working on a team project, for example, a shared notebook is one of the best ways to make certain information is available to all members. Other services like GoogleDocs or Dropbox will let you share documents with a team, but Evernote’s ability to convert text into searchable documents automatically is a BIG DEAL! No matter how team members send in content, searching an entire notebook with keywords/tags is powerful and students.

Notebooks

* Use Evernote to keep track of bills and other roommate details — utilities, chores, etc. Evernote has a new Reminders feature. Pair it with a shared notebook that contains scans of the electric, water, and cable/Internet bills and each roommate can enable a reminder to pop up. Now roommates won’t be able to claim they forgot their share of a bill was due. (Of course, the Reminders feature is also useful for alerting you to homework due dates, test dates, and other key items. You can schedule the date/time of the alert to whatever works for you — the day before, a week before, etc.)

* Keep your college/graduate school research under control — this means scanning EVERYTHING you can to eliminate the clutter. Create a stack (that contains multiple notebooks) with a notebook for each and every school you’re investigating. Because Evernote will hold PDF and Word documents, you can toss those documents right into their own note instead of keeping a copy on your computer’s desktop. Essays, financial aid documentation, medical forms, transcripts… put it all in there. (And if you’re a Premium user, rest comfortably knowing that all your stuff is available offline and can be synched to all your devices so you’re never caught in that moment of explaining why you need an Internet connection to access a file.)

* Campus visits are a whirlwind of information and sites. When you get home, there’s just no way you’ll remember it all. Take photos. Lots of them! And upload them directly to Evernote with your mobile phone. Add Audio notes — “I did NOT like the North Dorm.” Your goal will be to store anything that can help you distinguish one campus from another — visit two more more campuses, and you’ll be finding yourself forgetting which one had the cool Student Center and which one had the biggest library.

* Mobile phones are great for taking photos of handouts and that three-page syllabus for your freshman history class. But nothing beats a personal scanner. Evernote and a scanner will keep your dorm room or apartment as uncluttered as possible. Get in a habit of scanning every piece of paper that comes across your desk and you’ll never have to worry about misplacing something. Scan your homework, too! Yes, believe it or not, I’ve had homework disappear — either my professor lost it or I did. Scan it and you’ve got a copy should you need it. (And if a prof doesn’t return your assignments until the end of the semester, you’ll at least have a copy of your work when it comes to prepping for finals.)

* For Parents * — Permission forms and other school-related documents need to be returned with your signature? Guess what? Many school admins these days have email and are only too happy to have these documents sent back as signed PDFs. Obviously check with your school first, but the ability to scan in permission forms, medical forms, and other documents, sign them, and then email them out? Easy to do with Evernote. Add a reminder to digital documents you place into Evernote and you’ll never forget to return your child’s field trip permission form.

Here’s the thing about Evernote — sure, you can store photos and videos on your mobile device. And yes, Dropbox will hold all your Word docs and PDFs. And your tablet is great for keeping your personal calendar with all your test dates and such in one place. But Evernote is a resource that pulls everything together into one location.  For me, I took to using it immediately. I know others who are now huge Evernote users but who took a bit longer to become converts. Give it a try and see if it doesn’t make your life a bit easier.

Oh, and one more thing… GIVEAWAY!

I’ve got two Evernote Smart Notebooks from Moleskine, kindly provided by the folks at Evernote, to give away to two lucky commenters. Just share in a comment how you would use Evernote to make your life easier or, if you’re already an Evernote user, how you use it to stay organized. Post your comments before 11:59pm PDT September 6, 2013 and I’ll pick the two best responses. Winners will be notified by email.  The giveaway is limited to US residents only.

Note: I’d like to thank Tara for providing the two copies as well as numerous links (some of them included above) to articles about how others use Evernote.

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James Floyd Kelly is a full-time writer. His latest three books are Digital Engineering with Minecraft, Tinkercad for Beginners and The Ultimate iPad. Learn more by visiting his website http://jamesfloydkelly.com