Evernote’s Tantalizing Promise of a New Brain

evernote-logoEvernote wants to be my external brain, and I could use one.

I’ve been experimenting with this hot organizing program, mainly as a way to store web pages that I use for my weekly Kindle Chronicles podcast.  I’ve also created an Evernote notebook to hold information related to my work as board president for our condo association.  I have used Evernote enough to understand that it is a potent tool for keeping all sorts of information in one place, and finding just the pieces I need, when I need them, whether I’m at a computer or out and about with my iPhone.

The problem is, it takes a while to move into a new program, so that it becomes second nature.  I’m in the phase of clumsy eagerness to use the tool before I know how.

For example, about an hour ago I had the idea that I’d like to save an email from Hanna, the woman heading our condo’s Green Committee.  I thought there was a simple menu button or other easy integration between Evernote and Apple Mail on my computer.  If there is, I can’t find it.  I can copy and paste the text of Hanna’s email about solar options for our high-rise as a new note, but I’m not sure which notebook to put it in, or which tags to use.  My Evernote system is a mess.  I need David Allen to come over and help me organize it the way his Getting Things Done approach brought  order to my physical information system.

The Evernote gang are on a roll.  They just passed 1 million registered users, and they released a new version that works with the iPhone 3.0 operating system.  They also started a pretty good audio podcast, featuring a tech guy, a marketing guy, and the CEO.  I’m sure the CEO is a brilliant fellow to have shepherded his startup this far, but he needs to forget he’s the CEO on the podcast and take his cues from the marketing guy, who is really effective in the podcast and in videos he creates to explain Evernote.  The podcast trio will work it out, and in the meantime they’re providing a way for me to get more familiar with the program by listening to their conversation as I’m driving in my car.  They all need to remember that I don’t really care about them as people, or how their voice sounds, or any other that other personality stuff.  The only reason I’ve added the show to my iPhone podcasts is that I want to learn how to use the program.  I don’t need any new personalities in my life.

It also bugs me that they are calling it a “blogcast” instead of a podcast, and they don’t have what’s referred to as a “show notes page” just about the podcast, where each episode is listed with some related information and a player button to play the episode. Instead, they sprinkle the podcast episodes in amongst the rest of the blog entries.   They do have an iTunes listing, so I can subscribe and download the new episodes.  And mainly I appreciate the effort it takes to get a podcast started.

So I’m in for the Evernote ride.  I’m going to spend time being awkward with it until it really does become my external brain.  That was the promise of David Allen’s GTD system, and he took me a long way there.  The idea was you had a system for all the “stuff” in your life, and you trusted it and maintained it, so you didn’t use your poor little human for storing and retreiving information.  The payoff is huge.  You get to use your brain for thinking, or writing poems, or letting go on a zafu during zazen.  Sweet.

I could use a new brain.  Or else I could use fewer projects and priorities to juggle.  Some combination of saying Yes to Evernote and No to new initiatives and responsibilities holds the promise of Len 3.0 – an update of my operating system that’s elegant, fun, and effective.   Like if Steve Jobs and co. had a chance to reinvent ME.  Wait, they already did, with MobileMe.  Nevermind.

If you’ve got any Evernote tales, please feel free to add a comment or send me a Tweet.

UPDATE: While I was writing this post, I received three answers to my Tweet for help with Evernote’s email connection.  It’s simple.  It turns out I have an Evernote email address, so from my Inbox I can forward any email to it, and the email is captured in my Evernote inbox as a new note.  This is good.  Thanks to Alex Hung, Mark Stout, and Wayne MacPhail for the help.  Between Twitter and Evernote, I don’t need a brain!

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