(No one paid me anything to write this, although I'd happily accept a year of Evernote Premium in return for being such a nice blogger, if the Evernote people happen to find this...)
I've been looking for a solution for literally YEARS to the information overload that plagues me. I think I've found it with Evernote.
Evernote is free. You download the app to your phone and your computer, and you can access it through the 'net, too. You can save images, photos, lists (with check boxes), web pages, PDF files, notes... and in the premium version you can save Microsoft Office documents.
I have to admit, I've had it on my phone for a long time without realizing its potential. But yesterday I had some time to fool around with it, and I'm really excited about the possibilities...
One area where I have total info overload is recipes. I'll be surfing and I'll see something and think, "Gosh, I really want to try that!" but then when I sit down to plan our grocery list I have NO idea what to make. I can't remember that there was this recipe on Allrecipes and that recipe on Pioneer Woman and so on. Well, now when I'm surfing and I come across a recipe, I just "clip" it to Evernote. Just this morning I made Oatmeal Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen (LOVE these) and I clipped it to Evernote (with a picture copied and pasted into the file!) so that next time I want to make them, I don't have to search for the recipe (and run the risk of finding the wrong Oatmeal Pancakes because I can't remember which blog it was, or the risk of the whole blog being taken down for whatever reason). If the internet is down, I can still make them, because the file is mirrored on my computer.
I can scan in my own recipes and put them in the same "notebook." Then, when I make them, I can take a picture with my phone and upload it to the recipe easily. I can tag all of my recipes, too. Entree, Beef, Chicken, Dessert, Must Try!, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Cookies.... The possibilities are endless, and it will make them easy to find. And it's SEARCHABLE!
Now, imagine I'm at the grocery store and I suddenly have an urge to make pancakes... I can call up the recipe on my iPhone and make sure I have all the ingredients (ok, bad example, because I always have all those ingredients, but if I wanted to make some exotic recipe that didn't just use pantry staples, and I couldn't remember if I needed lemon or lime or whatever, I'd have that information at my fingertips). If I'm up in Grammaland and I want to make a new Christmas cookie with Mimi, we can pull up all my recipes on her computer and use them there. And since it's web, phone, and computer based, I don't have to endlessly print out the same recipes (or type up the same recipes to send to someone - I can e-mail it to you straight out of Evernote).
Ok, so beyond recipes and groceries, I have plenty of ideas for how Evernote can simplify my life. If I'm talking to someone and they mention a book I'd like to read, I can put it in a special note (with check boxes!!) called "Books to Read" - then, 10 years from now when I have time to read again, I can call up that list and have all those book titles at my fingertips. Ditto for movies. How many times have we been sitting in a theater watching previews and said, "That looks great!" but then we get to movie night and we can't think of anything to rent. Oh my gosh, that happens every time!
Let's say I'm out shopping and I see something that my mom would love. Well, we draw names at Christmas so I don't get her a Christmas present every year... but I could put a note called "gift ideas" in my phone, and jot it down, and then if I draw Mom I've already got an idea for her. I could also clip a website to Evernote if I'm surfing and run across something I'd like to get for her. Awesome, right? I can't be the only one who gets to December and draws a total blank on what to get for everyone.
We get freezer beef every year. I am considering making a checklist of what we get, then checking it off as I use it. With the checklist function, there is a lot of potential for inventory.
But wait, there's more! If I'm on the phone with someone at work, and I need to take notes on the conversation to refer to later, I have a whole notebook called "Work" where I can keep that stuff, and tag it so that I can find it. There are about a thousand ways I can use it at work, all of which are boring because they're work, so let's move on.
Kids' sizes? In a note so that if I'm shopping without them I can remember what size shoe they wear. I never remember shoe sizes. I can put BJ's sizes in there, too.
Medical stuff that I need to remember? Note. Tagged with the person's name. Magically accessible from anywhere so that if (God forbid) we're in the ER and they need to know when something happened, I can call it up and tell them exactly.
We want to build a house in a few years. As I'm surfing if I run across an idea I like, it goes into Evernote. If it's in a magazine I can scan in the page. If it's at someone's house I can take a picture with my phone. So when we sit down to design our "forever" house, I'll have years worth of ideas at my fingertips.
I can even take pictures of the kids' art projects (or scan them) so I don't have to store the originals. Tag them with the kid's name and date them, and poof! Instant preservation. It doesn't get much easier.
I just couldn't wait to share this tool with all of you. I hope you find it as useful as I do!