When I first started using Evernote, I did so with the full intent of pushing their slogan, “Remember everything,” to its limit. There are many benefits to this. In his book Getting Things Done1, Dave Allen points out that getting things out of your head so that you don’t have to remember them helps reduce stress. That’s as good as any reason for me. At first, some of the more arcane things I’ve put into Evernote seemed almost silly. But in the last year or so, it’s really started to pay off. So today, I thought I’d share some of the questions that have come up in everyday life that I’ve been able to answer because Evernote remembers for me.
1. When was the last time…?
The Little Miss was sick over the weekend. She will be three this summer and is rarely sick. Hardly ever a fever, a sniffle, or complaint of any kind. So when her fever spiked at well over 102 F on Saturday, it surprised us. Kelly asked, “Do you remember the last time the Little Miss had a fever?”
I didn’t, but Evernote did.
I’ve described how I capture “milestone”-type notes in my timeline notebook. These are notes that really don’t belong anywhere else, but form part of a bigger picture on a timeline of events. I have also described how I think about searches in Evernote, especially when it comes to the question of “who”; that is, who is this note related to? Over the years, I’ve developed a practice of capturing simple, discrete notes, often nothing more than a title, and a tag for who the note is related to.
So, when Kelly asked me if I remembered the last time the Little Miss had a fever, I opened up the Evernote app on my iPhone and ran a search:
This resulted in exactly one matching note:
Within seconds, I was able to turn to Kelly, and say, “The last time she had a fever was back on June 4, 2012.”
Initially, it took a little effort to remember to record these types of things at the time they happened. But it made it really easy to answer questions like this.
2. Changing the water filter
We have one of those Brita water jugs that goes into the fridge and into which you can put tap water from the sink. The tap water gets filtered and you get clean, refreshing water. And I always forget to change the filter. When I finally got around to changing it the last time, I did two things that will help going forward.
First, I created a note in Evernote indicating that I changed the filter. I filed the note in my Timeline notebook. Here is the entire note:
A quick search (for the term “filter”) brings this up as the first match. I can glance at the created date and see that I changed the filter on May 3. Since the filter is supposed to be changed every 2 months or so, I went one step further: I created a reminder on the note for July 2, so that Evernote will remind me when I need to change the filter again.
In this example, Evernote is remembering two things for me:
- When I last changed the filter
- When I need to change it again.
And I don’t need to do anything to remember this. Evernote will ping me when it’s time to change that filter again.
3. What lightbulb goes in this ceiling fan?
We have a ceiling fan in our bedroom. The light in the fan blew out a while back and I went out and bought a replacement bulb. It was too big. So a few weeks later, I went out and bought another replacement bulb. It was too small. It seemed we had a model of ceiling fan for which bulbs simply weren’t made.
Last week, I decided to solve the problem once and for all. I went to Home Depot and learned that there are 3 sizes of bulbs for ceiling fans. I’d tried the large and the small. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, all that was left was the “intermediary” bulb. So I bought a pair, came back to the house and guess what? The bulb fit! And worked.
I immediately created a note in Evernote for this. I snapped a photo of the packaging, and added some annotations to the photo using Skitch. I tossed the note into my Digital House notebook so that I could easily find it when I need to replace it next time:
Often these posts are how I use Evernote to manage big things. I hope these three examples help provide some ideas for how you can also use Evernote to avoid sweating the small stuff, as well. The small stuff adds up, and when I have a service like Evernote that can sweat the small stuff for me, I feel much more relaxed.
Do you use Evernote to remember the small stuff? Drop your ideas and suggestions in the comments.
If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let me know. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.