Monday, January 25, 2010

How to Remember Everything - Well Almost Everything

Seems like there just is more and more "stuff" to remember these days. With personal wish lists (just coming off Christmas, I had a few of these in various places), project to-do items, favorite web pages, notes for presentations, etc... URGH! How does a guy keep track of it all?

Well, wonder no more. I've been using a cool service/website from a company called Evernote that helps you remember things in a variety of different ways. The service has a free version that is easy to use and you can quickly register an account and get up and running in no time. Here's how I'm using it now and maybe you'll find other ways too.

Categories Make it Easy
When you "remember" something in Evernote you can assign Tags to it, which are becoming very common in the "web 2.0" world by helping to categorize items of information. Anything that you add to Evernnote can have Tags associated with it, so you can quickly go back and pull up all the items that are "business" or "personal" (or whatever categories you pick). I have created a category called "presentation material" since I do a lot of public speaking on the topics of social networking in the banking community and this helps to ensure that when I run across something that would be interesting to my audience I can remember it!

Keep Track of Websites
The program allows you to download and install an application (plugin) that works with Firefox and Safari as well as Internet Explorer and even Google's new Chrome so that if you come across a web page you like (and want to remember) you can "bookmark" it in Evernote. You can still bookmark it with your browser's bookmark feature, but by using the Evernote program you can do so much more (like Tag it with special keywords for easy look up later on). You'll see later that you can also access the Evernote information on a variety of different platforms, making the information easily accessible from virtually anywhere!

Quick "Notes to Self"
If you are using a smart phone like an iPhone, Droid or Blackberry, you can download the application that will connect to your Evernote account and give you the ability to access your notes anytime you have your phone. You can even use it with an iTouch and a WiFi connection to keep current. This gives you the ability to keep this handy program with you at all times and quickly jot down a "note to self" for viewing later. It's a nice way to remember things later on and doesn't require you to carry around pen and paper to keep track of that next great idea.

Voice Memos While Driving
Everyone knows you should not text while driving, but what if you get a good idea and want to make sure to remember it for later? Well, if you are using the Evernote program on your smart phone (yes, it can do that), you can save voice memos that will enable to record a message to yourself for playback later. Certainly much safer than driving with your knee and typing.

Sync and Keep Current
While most of my "clippings" and note taking is done on the computer with their handy desktop program that organizes all of your notes, I have the service synchronizing across the web so I can check my notes online on the Evernote website, on my Droid phone and even on my iTouch that is connected to my home WiFi network. This way, no matter what service I'm using I'm always up to date with my notes and checklists.

While I'm still not able to say that I'm remembering 100% of everything, the nice part is that when I do realize that something that needs to be available later, I can quickly add it to my Evernote and I know it will be there for me. Now the only think I need to remember is to check Evernote and it does the rest.

Hope you find this helpful. If you have comments or ideas on how you like to remember things, please feel free to leave me a comment below. Maybe you're old-fashioned and still prefer pen and paper or have another service that fellow techies would like to hear about. Either way, I'd love to hear from you.

Eric
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