In my efforts to use Evernote to help me remember everything I have discussed in earlier posts how I think of Evernote as a timeline. I get questions on this subject from time-to-time and I thought I’d spend today’s column discussing this in more detail, and providing some additional examples of how I use Evernote in this capacity.
All notes have create dates
Whenever you create a note in Evernote, the note automatically gets a create date. The default is the date and time at which the note was created. More often than not, I find that the default create date is fine, but it is important to know that…
The create dates can be changed
Why would you want to change a create date?
I tend to change create dates when I want to ensure the document in question is searchable by date. Most of these notes come from documents that I scan in. If I received a statement in the mail, the statement is often dated several days before the day I actually receive it. Then, too, I don’t always scan things in on the day they arrive.
When scanning in these types of documents, I will alter the create date to match the date on the document. For instance, if I scan a statement today, June 18, but the date on the statement is June 6, I will change the create date of the note to June 6. The reason for this is twofold:
- It allows me to use the “created:20130606″ and “-created:20130606″ type of search notation which makes searches much more accurate because Evernote is doing a real date search, as opposed to search for text in the title.
- It allows me to find documents quicker when someone references them by date. For instance, if I am on the phone with the business that sent me the statement and they ask me to refer to the statement of June 6, I have multiple, simple ways of finding the document. I can look at my “timeline” for June 6 and find the document. Or I can do a search for notes created on June 6 and add additional tag and notebook filters as appropriate.
I’ve found that by making the create date of a note match the date on the document itself, I can find just about any note I’m looking for in 2 or 3 seconds.
I do this for bills and statements I scan in. I do it for insurance policies. I also do it for old letters and other correspondence that I have scanned in,
All notes combine to create a timeline of events
If you looked at the create date of all of your notes in Evernote, you would see a timeline of events. Even seemingly unrelated events can prove useful when searching your timeline. When did I make that phone call? I know it was after my son’s birthday party, so let me find the note for his party and then start looking at notes after that. Graphically, the timeline of all notes might look something like this:
Each dot is a note with a line representing where it falls on the overall timeline. The different colors might represent different notebooks, or different tags, or a combination thereof. Within Evernote, I find it most useful to look at timelines using the List view:
In the view above, I am looking at all of my notes and have sorted them by Created date, from present to past. You can see from the titles that there is a big mix of things, but that the timeline notion itself forms a pretty complete picture of my life and goings-on.
Filtering your notes also filters your timeline
As I said above, all notes form a timeline. When you filter notes, you are also filtering your timeline. Using the illustration I did above, a filtered timeline might look something like this: