For those who are interested in Evernote, here are the main pages where I’ve talked about how I use Evernote:
- How I got my 94,000 page file cabinet into Evernote (within a description of my workflow before and after)
- How Evernote anchors my GTD system by making reference filing easier to do right than wrong
- Falling off the GTD wagon and getting back on via Evernote
- Restarting GTD with Evernote
- Great external post on using Evernote for project and reference filing at once
- How To for Evernote/ScanSnap
- The *trick* to dragging and dropping files into Evernote
- How to scan business cards into Evernote
- How to install Evernote web clipper <= It will rock your web surfing world! Never forget a URL again!
- How to set up presets (scan checks for deposit, documents for Evernote, Pictures, email, etc.)
My Evernote setup is joined at the hip with my most excellent $420 ScanSnap S1500M (for Windows look at the S1500). Full disclosure: If you buy your scanner from these links, I get a commission from Amazon (However, the scanner costs you the same). If you don’t like this arrangement, change the links once you find the scanner on Amazon.
Previous to buying the ScanSnap S1500M when I accepted a job requiring a move, I owned a ScanSnap S1300 ($300 TO $350, one model for $260 which I suspect is older). The S1300 holds 13 pages in its input bin, which is so much better than using a flat bed scanner, you get euphoric at being able to get paper off your desk.
But, … the S1500M has a 50 page input bin, it has more robust paper guides, it is MUCH faster. And, did I mention it is MUCH faster? In my opinion, the S1500M is worth the price difference. You will scan your paper into Evernote 3 to 4 times faster (my guess having used both). And, once you have the bulk of your paper into Evernote, the S1500M is such a pleasure to use, it will keep your desk clean of paper. With the S1300 I was constantly fighting buildup of pages in my inbox.
Fujitsu has a promotion going on from now until November 1st, where if you buy a ScanSnap you get a free year of Evernote premium. See offer details at the bottom of this post.
Hope this helps!
There’s one thing stopping me from doing this. I want a filing system that’s going to last not just for a few years, but for the rest of my working life (or more!). If I put all my scanned PDFs in Evernote, I can’t get the same files back out again. So if I commit to Evernote, how can I be sure I won’t regret it in 10 years time?
(I guess I could keep second copies of everything that goes into Evernote, but that adds a personal file management overhead which kind-of negates the point of having Evernote do it for me in the first place).
Thank you for a really helpful blog.
Great thinking James!
You are right there is a risk that Evernote disappears and all our stuff will be trapped inside. The calculation to use Evernote for me goes like this:
1) I can get my PDFs out of Evernote pretty easily on a one by one basis. To move a PDF from Evernote on a Mac, open Evernote, open the PDF inside and then \print\pdf\save as pdf.
2) Evernote gives me replicated live backup. What I mean by replicated is that Evernote synchronizes my reference files across home desktop, office desktop, and laptop.
What I mean by live backup is that I can use Evernote on all three machines and know that the note count is the same, so that I’m pretty sure that my data are all there and live. Because I’ve used tape backups, I don’t trust any backup that isn’t live. Something always goes wrong with non-live backups.
3) Evernote says they have an easy export utility. I *feel* like this is a con, frankly. The exported format should be a directory tree with PDF or document files in folders for each notebook. And, instead, Evernote has a funky HTML export that isn’t native for any other programs. But, Evernote also has this thing called the Trunk, where programmers are beginning to build apps to plug into Evernote. I suspect it is a matter of time before we can buy an Evernote document export utility, that does what I expect.
4) My productivity gain from having unrestricted access to all my reference data is large enough that I can’t not use Evernote. The opportunity costs of not using Evernote for me, swamp the chance that I will get stranded. Why? Well because if I get stranded, I’ll still have Evernote and all my data on 3 machines.
I’ve got a Synology NAS with a Cloud Station live backup service. Actually, I’m not sure that I’m going to need Evernote for that much longer. I may find a way to export my documents and then move them to Cloud Station and have a PRIVATE evernote service.
What I mean by Private is that my reference files could have most of the benefits of Evernote (replication, live backup, streaming to smartphones and tablets, etc.) but with the added benefit of not being in the GINORMOUS honeypot of everyone else’s data. Security through obscurity is another weakness of Evernote. When you use it, because it really does not have a competitor (I’ll do a post shortly on why I don’t think DropBox and Evernote are competitors) you risk that your username and password will be broken and your stuff exposed. That’s the next reason you will not be able to bring yourself to cut over to Evernote … tick tick tick until you make the “Oh crap, I need the productivity too much! calculation.”
5) Evernote was last year’s Inc 500 company of the year. Like dropbox Evernote currently has a practically unlimited ability to attract capital to continue its hockey stick growth.
So, in summary, there are definitely downsides to Evernote (bankruptcy, being hacked, that Evernote does not fully index all file types so you can’t search for example inside zip files at present). But, the direction Evernote is moving slowly (like a near-stationary hurricane) make me less apprehensive that my stuff will get stranded. Evernote is the Microsoft of reference filing. Just gong to get bigger.
Besides, there is always a way to move data. Evernote actually feels to me like PDF when it came out. Compared to ASCII files, PDF was “Petrified Data Format,” until over time, Adobe added data access features, and programmers wrote utilities to extract data. Ultimately utilities came out to reformat PDFs back to Word .docx. I think the same thing is going to happen with Evernote.
But, going with Evernote is, still, a bet. But I’m comfortable.
Thank you for this. My main concern is that I don’t want to be locked-in to Evernote should a competitor arise in the future who turn out to be better. But your comment about developer access answers this for me: if there is every market demand to extract the information, someone would write an add-on.
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