The Absent Minded Professor’s Organizer

We all hear the stories about the absent minded professor. You know the one, the man (or woman) who knows all about his/her obscure field but can’t find a lightbulb in his/her own lamp. I’m not quite that bad, but I have a horrible habit of collecting links and getting bookmark pages that look more like phonebooks than organized areas. I’ve tried a million different methods for organizing links and I’ve finally found the answer.

And, best of all, it does more than organize links. You can keep lists, quotes, etc., etc., etc., and be able to find it all again. What is this wonder method you ask?

Evernote.

Hands down this is the best bookmarking system I’ve ever used. It is web based, but it has a local client for your computer AND for most handheld devices (currently, iPhones, iPod Touch, and Windows Mobile devices, but they’re coming for the rest of you SOON). All of these are synced together so that the site you clip on your computer will be available on your phone and vice versa. You can tag all of your notes so you can find them again. You can organize into notebooks, so similar things are put together.

For example, I have one notebook for each school I teach for. When I come across something useful for a specific course, I clip the site (using the really useful bookmarklet thingy that sits on my bookmark bar in Safari), tag it with the course number and put it in the appropriate notebook. I keep notebooks for each of my children and, again, can drop the appropriate information in each child’s notebook. For Ben, there are numerous links to sources for art supplies, cool little boy’s clothes (and we all know how hard those are to find), and links to some of his favorite websites (why yes, at three my son has favorite websites, doesn’t everyone?).

I also keep useful webpages I’ve come across with information on just about anything. I keep a whole collection of recipes that I’ve seen and think I want to try from the web.

The beauty is that with the tag system I can keep track of WHY I bookmarked the site, which has been my downfall with just using the bookmark feature in my web browser.

What makes Evernote a standout, to me, is the functionality and availability across multiple platforms. However, it’s not perfect. The two things that I don’t like about it?

1) You cannot edit to do lists on the phone versions. You can check things off, but you can’t add to the list. This is obviously problematic for people who get things to add to a to do list away from their computer. Say, when you’re in a doctor’s office and you’ve just been told to make X phone call or Y prescription drop. It’s something I hope to see in the future.

2) On the mobile version, you lose the notebook organization, and I find it difficult to navigate the tags there. Sometimes I need to be reminded of something, but I can’t figure out what it was called, so I can’t find it on the mobile.

However, those two limitations are just not enough to dissuade me from using it. I love it and it has totally changed the way that I approach looking at websites and organizing information.

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