Friday, December 24, 2010

Evernote Tip: Make notes easier to access

While using Evernote, you may notice that some notes are referenced a lot. The two main reasons are either because the note contains too much information that can't be memorized, or its information is constantly updated (i.e. you replace your gym's schedule every month). Since these notes are the ones that are accessed most frequently, they should also be the easiest ones to access. Read on for a few ways to do this.

Here are a several ways to make notes easy to access:

  • Use a notebook: Create a notebook specifically designed for notes that are frequently referenced. Notebooks are often the easiest to filter on in Evernote clients. The only downside is that notes can't be in more than one notebook, so it might not fit your organizational structure. If you minimize the amount of notebooks you use, however, this could be very useful. Another trick you could do is use the new notebook folders feature to create the following folders: [Notebook], [Notebook/Frequently Referenced], and [Notebook/Main]. And instead of using the query [Main], use [Notebook]. This way the frequently referenced notes still appear under the same notebook, but they can also easily be accessed. To access these notes, you would simply click on the notebook.
  • Use a tag: This is fairly simple. You would access the note by typing something like [tag:a] in your query. You should make the tag as short as possible. You don't need to worry about it being unique since it doesn't have the same problem that a unique string would have. When you clip a note, even if it does contain this tag name in it's body, since you are filtering with the tag prefix it won't show up in your search. You could use a symbol as the tag name as well (e.g. [tag:-]). To access these notes, you would type the following into the search: tag:a.
  • Use a saved search: You would use this in conjunction with creating a tag. This time your tag should be more descriptive (e.g. [tag:Frequently Accessed]), and simply create a saved search which filters for this tag. It may seem odd to create a saved search for a single tag, but many of the clients make it very easy to access a saved search, often times it's even easier than getting to a tag. To access these notes, you would click the saved search.
  • Use a unique string: In this method, you would add a string to a note so that it shows up when you filter on it. A string such as "abzc" probably doesn't exist in any of your notes (you should run a query to make sure it doesn't before you decide on which string to use). Better yet, search for it in Google to see if any pages on the Internet use the string. This will make it even more likely that when you tag notes in the future, it won't accidentally be added to a note. They key is to find a good balance between something that is easy to type (few characters), but is unique enough to not exist in a note you clip. Some clients (e.g. Mac) will automatically perform a "starts with search" when you type something in the search box, so you should try to find a string that isn't used in the begging of any words either. The last thing to consider is that the image recognition algorithm may find the string incorrectly in an image somewhere. The longer your string, the less likely this will happen. If you don't want to write this in the note somewhere, you could use it as tag since Evernote automatically searches tags as well. To access these notes, you would run a search on your unique string: abzc.
Another thing to consider when using a tag, saved search, or notebook, is to make the notes appear near the top so that they are easier to access. You can do this by prefixing them with a symbol.

I personally like using the saved search option. I named the tag and the saved search with a symbol prefix so that they both appear on the top of their lists. This way if one of the lists is not easily accessible, the other can still be used.

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