I recently discovered Evernote which is a very handy service that bills itself as your external brain. In a nutshell, the services that helps to you organize “notes” and access them from anywhere (web, desktop, mobile phone). A note can be an a quick text note, a clipping from webpage or your desktop, any type of image, or an audio recording.
What makes Evernote special is that has three killer features and a very compelling price point (free for low to medium use and $5 a month for more space than you could need).
To start off with, Evernote has wonderful optical character recognition (OCR) technology which lets you search your images for text strings. Now you can take a picture of someone’s business card and find their info by searching for their name, number, email, address, whatever is on their card. You’d be surprised how often the ability to search images can come in very handy. Looking for a new house? Start snapping pictures of “For Sale” signs as your pass by and search for them later.
Secondly, it has tremendous search capabilities, letting you specify tags, geographical location the note was taken, date created, whether the note contained a to-do item, whether that to-do has been completed or not, etc. Just about anything you can think of, you can search for. And searching is faster than putting things in folders (think gmail).
Finally, Evernote has outstanding syncing capabilities, letting you access and store your data wherever you are. The iPhone app is wonderful and they continue add device specific features to the service (geo tagging using the iPhones’s GPS for example). They have really pulled off one of the best desktop/web/mobile solutions I’ve seen for any service yet.
So what does Evernote have to do with GTD? What’s great is that the tools are very flexible so they can work with your existing personal organization scheme. So if you want to apply GTD principles for example, you create notebooks for GTD contexts and then use tagging for projects. Or you can use notebooks for both contexts and projects and search by combining them. You can create individual notes for action items, or you can have a single note with a number of items each with a “to-do” checkbox. Through its really great UI and functionality, Evernote lends itself to your style instead of forcing you to use it in a certain way.
To wrap it up, Evernote is a great service that can both boost your productivity and help you have to remember less while making your information easily available from wherever you are. For someone like me who is constantly suffering from information overload and has a horrible memory to start with, Evernote is exactly what I needed.