How to Stay Afloat in a Sea of Overwhelming Data, Technology and Clutter

We live in a cluttered, confusing world of technology, tools and gadgets. We are drowning in data, and the systems we hoped would keep us afloat are actually dragging us down.

I may have found my lifesaver, though. My absolute favorite tool for productivity helps me to be more creative, organized and effective. My one-word solution for the confusion, chaos and clutter in my world is…

Evernote

Evernote is a blend of software and services where I can capture, organize and store everything in my busy world. It is a free service, with an option to upgrade to a premium level. I’ve used Evernote for three years, but only within the past three months have I become a “power user” and moved to the premium level.

In case you’re wondering, the glowing endorsement that follows yields me no compensation. Nor do I benefit in any way except in knowing that my friends and colleagues are living life more abundantly by joining me in using this service.

With that disclaimer, here are three reasons I love Evernote:

  1. I can capture anything. Evernote is the one place where I can lasso a fleeting idea, clip a webpage, make a to-do list, organize a project, record an audio reminder, capture a snapshot, outline the draft of an upcoming blog post, take notes during a meeting, save a scanned a document and store reference manuals. I even have an Evernote inbox where 100% of my Outlook, Gmail and other messages are forwarded for processing.
  2. I can access my data anywhere. As a cloud-based service, Evernote syncs all my information across all of my devices. Therefore, my data is available at my desktop when I arrive at the office early in the morning. It’s on my laptop as I’m watching TV late at night. It’s on my tablet when I’m waiting in the doctor’s office. It’s on my smartphone which is with me practically everywhere (except in the shower). As a premium user, I can save any or all notebooks offline so my data is always available, even when I’m in a disaster zone without Internet access or at 30,000 ft. when my phone is in airplane mode.
  3. I can find everything fast. Google instilled in me the “search” mantra, although I’ve mostly moved beyond Google for everything except my calendar. In Evernote, I can search for anything by using a keyword or tag. The OCR (optical character recognition) even does a great job of even finding text inside pictures or scanned images.

I still use other services such as the free version of Dropbox. I’ve moved many of my files to Evernote, however, because there I can organize, tag and search for my data more effectively. I’ve also moved everything I need out of Google Docs. That system always felt too clunky, but for awhile it was my only option for cloud-based storage.

Evernote allows me to store my data in almost any format. My notes (as they are called in Evernote) include files in the following formats: pdf, jpg, wav, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Enough tech talk, though. Check out the following links for more information:

  1. Evernote home page. Go ahead. If you’re not already a user, sign up. You’ll be glad you did.
  2. Evernote blog. You’ll find lots of useful information here on how to be more productive.
  3. Evernote tips. Even more tips are available here.
  4. Evernote video library of tutorials, tips, etc. If you’re visually-oriented, here’s another source of great information.
We learn from each other. I’ve shared my evolving system for staying afloat in a sea of data, technology and clutter. What do you do? If you’re already an Evernote user, what tips can you share?
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2 Responses to How to Stay Afloat in a Sea of Overwhelming Data, Technology and Clutter

  1. Reed Alberg says:

    Duane,
    I appreciate this post very much. I am just starting to move to the iPhone and a mobile presence and typically have no idea what I am doing. Evernote is a worthwhile tool in the bag.

    I look forward to learning more about other tools as well as figuring out the best setting to have for my iPhone mail (seems to be a lot of things that won’t really delete) as well as best practices for keeping files and items available.

    Thanks
    Reed

  2. Rachel Klein-Kircher says:

    Hi Duane, this is a topic I’ve been struggling with – thank you for giving another solution to consider. Rachel

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