As part of the Evernote 30-Day Paperless Challenge, I’ve gotten quite a few questions about my note templates, how I use them, and especially, if I would mind sharing them. So, with that in mind, I have created a shared notebook for Evernote with a few of my frequently used templates. Evernote users who want to access this shared notebook can do so here:
I’ve started by publishing two of my most-used templates: my meeting notes templates and my phone call template. Below, I explain how I use each of these templates in more detail, but of course, you can use them however you like.
Meeting Notes template
My meeting notes template is for capturing notes from meetings, obviously. The format I use is a modified version of a format that I read Bill Gates uses to capture meeting notes. (He uses a grid with 4 quadrants, I use 4 vertical sections.) Typically, this is how I use the template:
- During my nightly rundown (something I’ll post about in the near future), I review all of the meetings on my calendar for the following day.
- I create one note for each meeting that I’ll be attending. I do this by going to my Templates notebook on my Evernote Mac desktop client and right-clicking on the Meeting template, then selecting Copy To Notebook…
- Once the note is in the proper place I change the title of the note to reflect the corresponding meeting on my calendar.
- I run through the template filling out as much as I can ahead of time (e.g., are there questions I want to ask? Are there links that need to be referenced, etc.)
- If there are some attachments that would be useful to have (agendas, slides, spreadsheets, etc.) I’ll attach them to the note.
- While I am waiting for the meeting to start, I will update the Create Date of the note to reflect the actual date/time of the meeting. (I sometimes do this after the meeting if I am using my iPad.)
- During the meeting, I’ll pull the notes up on my iPad and work off the notes there. I usually have all of the reference and links at my finger tips.
- I fill out my To Do items in a special format because I’ve written some code to have these items automatically sent to my To Do list manager. (I imagine some folks will be interested in this and I’ll try to write a post about this in the near future so here is the post.)
A few additional tips:
- If I need to refer to a previous meeting’s notes, I’ll stick a Note Link to that note in the Reference section. That way, I can simply click on the link to take me to the corresponding note in Evernote. I’ll also do this with other types of documents stored in other notes.
- I only try to capture those things that will be useful to me later. I am not trying to capture a detailed record of everything said in the meeting
- Copying the template to a new note on the iPad is a little tricky, which is why I try to do it from the Evernote desktop application the night before.
- The notebook into which most of my work-related meeting notes goes is an “Offline” notebook so that I can access it on my iPad even if I don’t have a Wi-Fi connection.
- Using the “meeting notes” tag and Evernote’s extensive search capabilities, I can usually find the meeting notes I’m looking for in a few seconds.
Phone call template
My phone call template is used for capturing the contents of calls that seem worthwhile to capture. Here is how I use it.
- During my nightly rundown (just like above), if there are calls I know I am going to make the next day, I’ll create notes for each of those calls from the template.
- I try to fill out as much of the template for each call beforehand. (What number am I calling? Who am I supposed to be talking to? Is there other information I need, etc.)
- Before the call, I’ll update the note create date to reflect the actual date and time of the call.
- During the call, I try to capture whatever other information I think I need to record.
- When the call is over, I’ll add any follow-up or action items. Just like my meeting notes, these get automatically pulled into my To Do list manager.
Both templates are pre-tagged, either “meetings” or “phone calls” so where the notes actually get filed doesn’t really matter. I have saved searches to look for meeting notes and phone calls.” I also have a saved search for all notes created “today” which I used as part of my daily rundown.
I’ll add more templates to this shared notebook in the future, when I have more time and if I think they might be useful to folks. There are services out there that allow you to do more complex templates with Evernote. If you are interested in these, I’d suggest checking out KustomNote, which is a finalist in Evernote’s DevCup. For now, I prefer my method because it doesn’t require an additional service.
Feel free to use these templates and modify them to your personal tastes.