Finding Margin in Business and in Life

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Evernote Right Now

I have a confession.  I hate paper and I hate filing.  I hate paper filing.  I hate looking for paper files.  Hate it!  Hate it!  So, that’s why I took my little accounting practice digital.  We have a process for digitizing paper and a retention policy for client files, but we are, by-and-large, a minimal-paper environment thanks to the best tool in my office arsenal,  the scanner.  Dollar for dollar, the scanner is the best business tool you can buy, creating the business standard pdf files critical for digital storage.  Everything goes through the scanner, a pdf document is produced, and then is filed.   The time it takes to do this is about the same as it is to paper file, however it is much quicker and easier to get access to these pdf files later on, if or when the files are needed.   These pdf files are also easier to secure, to share, to duplicate and the cost for digital storage is ridiculously cheaper than physical storage space.

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Now, since all of my current clients are on QuickBooks, most pdf documents end up as attachments to checks, deposits, bills, etc.  This works in either QuickBooks desktop versions or QuickBooks Online and I’ll cover their document storage capabilities in more detail in another post.  But if your accounting system doesn’t have a dedicated document attachment storage feature, what do you do?  In the same token, what about pdf documents that aren’t directly related to transactional activity?   Well most of us file these in a specific client-related folder in our windows directory.  Here’s the thing.  Digital filing with windows requires folder context.  All this means is to put the file in a folder, the folder must represent what files are in it in a broad sense.  This filing context give us logic to file by.  So, to have some understanding about where the documents should go, we file according to a specific context like:  Payroll, Insurance, Customers, Suppliers, Fixed Assets, etc.  From there we typically create sub folders for years, maybe even months to drop our documents into.
This works well most of the time, but what happens if you’re searching for a pdf file and it doesn’t turn up in the right folder?  Maybe you can’t find it at all?  Then what?  What if you can’t remember the file name?  Well then, you’re right back to hunting through stacks of paper trying to find the originals, even though the digital file is most likely waiting patiently for you on your computer in the wrong client folder or even just named incorrectly.    If that doesn’t spell “frustrating”, then I don’t know what would.   But what if you could search for the pdf file through words in it?  Well, if you’re using Windows Explorer, then you’re out of luck.   You just can’t do it.  In fact, the only way to search for a pdf file in a windows directory is to open one at a time and search for specific words inside of it. Not real helpful.  Not at all.   But, there is a tool out there that will…  Evernote.

Evernote is essentially a software for retaining notes of all kinds:  pdf files, MS Office files, scanned images, pictures, audio files…you name it.  The beauty of the system is Evernote’s built-in tools to help you contextualize the files within it with minimal effort and exponentially improve your ability to retrieve them in the future.   These tools are 5 the reasons you should consider using Evernote right now:
  • OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is built in.  Every file you drop into Evernote runs through their OCR process immediately behind the scenes without your involvement or delay of service.  For reference, OCR is the conversion of a scanned document into searchable text.  Once done, you can use Evernote’s intuitive search bar to hunt through the entirety of the Evernote database those pdf files that contain a specific word or phrase in them.  So instead of hunting for pdf files one by one, you’ve supercharged your search capabilities exponentially to multiple files instantaneously.   It is scary fast and effective.

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  • Behold the power of Tags.  The availability and ease in incorporating Tags in Evernote is probably the very best feature.  At least, they’ve taken the concept to the next level.  The concept of Tags is to create searchable terms for documents not already contained within the document and for any type of document.  10 years ago, we called this meta data, but the term Tags is much more user-friendly.  Even more user-friendly, is how they work.   Some documents we create can serve more than one context.  For example:  We received an invoice from a supplier for a piece of equipment that needs capitalized.  In a regular windows directory format, we’d need to store a copy in an Accounts Payable folder somewhere and then we’d have to make another copy of the file to store in our Fixed Assets folder.  Same would apply to paper filing.  Yet, with Evernote Tags, you can assign this invoice to Accounts Payable and Fixed Assets tags. You can also assign a tag with the year in it to further refine it.  In fact, you can add another tag for Taxes.    All of these allow you to use the search bar to find the proper files based on the tags assigned.  Super powerful! Let’s take it a step further.  Take a picture of the fixed asset, serial number and any warranty information, drop it into Evernote and assign it the same tags. Now when you look for the invoice for the asset, you’ll also get the picture and warranty information on the it as well.  Start keeping fixed asset logs as notes in Evernote and tag them too!  Are you starting to see how useful this tool is?

 Evernote 1 - Tags

  • Multi-Attribute Search Bar.  The powerful search feature of Evernote harnesses the functionalities of OCR and Tags in an amazing way.  Once you know the specific search options available, you can find any file inside of Evernote.   As shared earlier, you can search for words in documents and you can search by tags.  You can search by word AND with tags at the same time.  You can search for documents in all kinds of ways.  The list is lengthy, so I’ve included this link to Evernote’s Knowledge Base is an excellent dive into the multi-variable search options you can use and it serves as a great reference to keep handy.  Check it out.  You won’t be sorry!
  • Linkages to other files.  I just discovered this feature a few weeks ago and I love it!  I started really using Evernote for writing earlier this year.  I was working on an online course for Bookkeepers to be released mid year and wanted a way to keep the group of notes, articles and materials together.  I learned each note has an embedded link.  You can add the link to another note by adding the hyperlink (see below).  This linking allows me to go from one blog post to another and back to my series overview by simply clicking on the right hyperlinks.  Consider this for use in meeting minutes or collection call notes or other closely related documents you want to keep tethered together.   It works great!

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  • Reminders available.  I use tasks and task reminders in MS Outlook to keep me on the straight and narrow for my clients and for myself.   It tells me what to do and when.  It yells at me if I don’t.  Well, the reminders in Evernote work the same way.  Each note can have its own reminders. Here’s why I think this is really cool!  If I put the pdf copy of the insurance policy for the new year, I can put a reminder out 9 months to begin the policy renewal process again.  Or, put a reminder to follow-up on the ongoing collection note for a persistently-late customer.      The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.  Right now, I’m using them particularly to help drive accountability for blog posts and online course development.
 Evernote 1 - reminder
Each of these built-in tools are great reasons to be using Evernote right now for your business and/or personal purposes.  Yet, Evernote has even more functionality built-in, as well.  We’ll take a look at these in future posts.  One hiccup to these 5 great reasons for using Evernote…it does come at a cost.  You can use the Evernote Basic edition for free, but you’ll lose the OCR ability.  The good news though, is at a price as low as $45, you can get an annual subscription to Evernote Premium.   That’s what I use and it certainly exceeds my expectations.  Check out the this great post for more information on the various editions of Evernote and how they compare to one another.  http://www.deckmymac.com/evernote-basic-vs-premium-vs-business-pricing-and-feature-comparisons/.   Give Evernote a spin!  There’s nothing to lose!

Let me know if you have any questions or issues with Evernote…or even what tips you’d like to share with me.

  I’d love to hear from you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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