Category Archives: Productivity

My Experience with the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine

Evernote MoleskineI tweeted a few weeks ago asking my followers what they thought about the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine. I didn’t hear from anyone on their thoughts about that notebook specifically, so I decided to make the purchase and decide for myself. If you buy one of these notebooks on the Moleskine website, they’re $29.95 for the bigger size. I bought one on Amazon for $19.77. By the way, I don’t do affiliate links, so if you click any of these links and buy something, I don’t get paid.

A lot of you who are reading this blog are probably thinking to yourselves, “that is a lot money for a notebook”. And you would probably be right – if a notebook was all you received . If you’ve ever bought a Moleskine before, you know that they are not cheap by any stretch. But you also know that they’re worth the extra cost. They hold up extremely well, retain a classic and professional look, and they’re trendy too. And trendy counts for something, right? The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine is exactly like a normal Moleskine, except for the following:

  • The cover is decorated with Evernote-branded artwork and the Moleskine-standard band is green (It’s detailed up close but looks black from far away)
  • The notebook comes with a unique validation code for 3 free months of Evernote Premium, which costs $4.95/month (more on why that matters below)
  • Stickers are included that are specially coded to match up with Tags on your Evernote account

Those extra features only cost you about $8 on Amazon, since a normal Moleskine notebook costs around $12.

EvernoteNow, when I’m working, I can write down notes in a meeting, snap a picture of the page with my iPhone (which has a feature that fits these notebook pages in the frame perfectly), and rename the note something that will be easier to search for later. In a matter of minutes, the written words that I wrote are searchable on my Evernote account, so next time I’m rifling through pages trying to remember where I wrote that one specific thing that I can’t seem to find, all I have to do is perform a simple keyword search and the note will turn up – on every single device that I sync my account with. That’s called OCR technology, which I’ve discussed before, and it really is the best feature of Evernote that most people don’t know exists. My written notes are now filed in subfolders on my Evernote account, so I can easily find things that I need most of the time without even having to perform a keyword search.

But why do I need an Evernote Premium account?

  • You may not. But I’m finding many reasons to use my account now that I have more space to upload information than I did when I was worried about reaching my monthly maximum. The other day, I cataloged some recipes that my Grandmother left behind in various church cookbooks. Now, they’re searchable and archived for years to come.
  • You can search within PDFs and iWork documents, which is a feature I have not used. I don’t have much to say about that, except that it sounds like something that could be very useful, especially if you’re studying for a test or project using large-volume PDFs.
  • You can also take notebooks offline. Again, not much to say about this beyond the fact that it’s a great feature.
  • You can read about more features here.

In short, I recommend the Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine. A normal Moleskine would work just the same for some of the features I pointed out, but the stickers coded for tagging and the free months of Evernote premium make the cost difference completely worth it. I will point out that this Notebook is only for someone who is genuinely interested in getting their notes organized across devices. If that sounds like something that’ll put you to sleep, don’t waste your money. If you’ve been wishing you could be more organized but can’t quite give up written notes, this is a wonderful solution to your problem that I think will help you in your noble quest to be more productive and save time by being organized.

Related Insight from People Who Are Smarter Than Me:

Craig Jarrow, the Time Management Ninja offers:

Brett Kelly has a great book about Evernote too, which I intend to read soon. I read his free chapter though, and it definitely intensified my interest in the app.

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Writing: Your Ticket to Twenty-Somethingness

I started this blog as a way to practice my writing. Essentially, I write for a living, so I figured this outlet would help me develop and practice my craft.

Much has been written lately about the importance of writing in any job. As a young professional, you are likely familiar with the term “generalist”. If you aren’t familiar with the term, you are probably familiar with the concept –  as young professionals entering the workplace, we must be prepared to perform an increasingly diverse list of job responsibilities, and we’d better get pretty good at all of them. Gone are the days of being a “numbers guy” or the girl who is really good at editing everyone else’s writing. Excelling in numbers (haha, get it?) and possessing exceptional editing skills are marketable, but waning budgets, smaller staffs and more work also require us to know how to mail merge, answer phone calls, make phone calls, sell stuff, market products and report on them in a clear, concise manner. In short, you can be great at one thing, but you’d better be pretty darn good at everything else, too.

Strong writing skills are imperative, but many of us lack the basic grammar, spelling and composition knowledge we need to succeed. Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Business, writes:

The number of poorly written emails, resumes and blog posts I come across each month is both staggering and saddening. Grammar is off. There are tons of misspellings. Language is much wordier or more complex than necessary. Some things I read literally make no sense at all to me.

Writing is a lost art, and many professionals don’t realize how essential a job skill it is. Even if you’re not a writer by trade, every time you click “Publish” on a blog, “Post” on a LinkedIn update, or “Send” on an email, you are putting your writing out into the world.

The title of that post is: Want to Be Taken Seriously? Become a Better Writer. ‘Nuff said.

Indeed, we must put a stronger focus on our writing skills and the way our business writing is coming across to our peers, supervisors and external audiences. If you don’t take your writing seriously, you won’t be taken seriously. I think this is true in personal communications among friends and family as well.

There are a number of resources available when you google the words “grammar” and “stupid”, but here is my favorite. Take note of the tips in that article for some simple mistakes to avoid. But beyond that, give all of your e-mails a second or even third look this week. The recipients will appreciate it and you’ll notice a difference in the way that your messages are communicated.

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No More Google Reader: What Now?

Google Reader will cease to exist on July 1. Most of what I told you about reading blogs revolved around syncing your RSS feed using Google Reader, so I apologize for that. I have been very happy with my RSS readers, and Google Reader has been the glue that kept them all together. I don’t have a recommendation just yet as to what you should do now, but I thought I’d pool some of my favorite articles about the subject together so that you can form some of your own opinions and try multiple options.

Surprisingly, this announcement from Google sparked discussion on the popular blog reader, many people expressing their frustrations with the program. I agree that Google Reader in and of itself was not impressive-looking, but it integrated with a majority of the RSS readers that work across devices, so it will be sorely missed by those who like to sync.

At least I have until July 1. In the mean time, learn with me:

  • This guy said “Good Riddance, Google” and made me realize I’m an “information junkie,” as if I didn’t already know that.
  • Lots of folks are talking about Feedly, which apparently does the same thing and looks better. Since Google announced the end of Google Reader, Feedly has gained 500,000 new users in less than a week.
  • Gini Dietrich over at SpinSucks offers a few of her own suggestions for reading blogs.
  • Flipboard is trying to capitalize on the announcement as well. Some people really like Flipboard, but I’d recommend it for people who don’t mind missing things sometimes. I prefer to see everything and opt-out of reading certain things if I don’t see the need, rather than letting the App do that for me.
  • John Dvorak over at PC Mag says Google should make Google Reader an open source code, like the WordPress platform I currently blog on. I disagree with how he got to this suggestion, but I think it would be great. The problem with this suggestion is that the main reason Google Reader is going to File 13 is to send more traffic to Google+. Making it an open source platform would not help achieve this goal.

A lot of you may be scratching your heads wondering what I’m even talking about, which is fine. This may be your opportunity to look more into RSS Feeds and develop a strategy for reading your favorite blogs.

If you prefer reading all of your favorite blogs via e-mail, I can’t blame you. Scroll on down to the bottom of this webpage and you can easily sign up to receive e-mail updates for this blog. Personally, I’d go nuts receiving an e-mail every time a blog I read published new content. RSS Feeds make this a lot easier, and, no matter how you do it, I highly recommend reading as many blogs as you have time to read. There is some great stuff out there!

What am I missing? What are you going to do?

 

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