Every morning, as I prepare for my day, I sit down at my iMac and launch my most critical apps. I use the native Mac Mail for email. Nozbe for managing my tasks. Fantastical 2.0 is my current calendar of choice and all my AutoCAD drawing files are safely backed up and accessible on Dropbox. Each app helps me stay productive whether I am in the studio or on the road.
And then there’s Evernote.
I’ve been using Evernote for a few years now and it has slowly become my most useful tool. Evernote collects all my thoughts and ideas. It organizes my personal life, life at my architecture firm Fivecat Studio and here at EntreArchitect. Together with my Fujitsu ScanSnap Scanner, Evernote now stores all my most important documents.
I haven’t opened a metal file cabinet in over a year.
In my never-ending quest to find the most effective and efficient business systems for architects, I recently started to integrate Evernote into my project management system at Fivecat Studio. Since moving to the virtual studio business model for my firm, I’ve been using Dropbox for storage of all my drawings and projects documents. It works well. I have all the capacity I need and with a proper naming system, everything is relatively easy to find.
I’ve read about other architects using Evernote successful, so I wanted to give it a try.
I first tested Evernote with two project to see how it worked. I created a new “notebook” using the same project name and number system that I use in Dropbox and have been using at the studio for over a decade. The main project notebook is named simply with the project number followed by the project name; 15-001 Project Name. When sorting, the projects arrange in numerical order at at the top of all my other notebooks.
Evernote has a great feature that allows us to “stack” a series of notebooks inside one other notebook. Unfortunately we can only stack one layer deep, but that does force us to keep the system simple. Inside my main project notebook, named 15-001 in the example below, are five other notebooks; 15-001 Correspondence, 15-001 Drawings, 15-001 Field Reports, 15-001 Meeting Minutes and 15-001 Proposal. The content of each notebook is self explanatory and you can add as many notebooks as you want. My recommendation with any new system, is to keep it simple. Too many notebooks will make the system cumbersome and complicated to use.
The best part of Evernote and what makes it so powerful is the search tool. Rather than sorting through individual notes for that one field report from 8 months ago, a simple search of the project name and a few key terms relevant to the document will pop up just the report we are seeking. That makes project management, quick, simple, efficient and effective.
Documents do not need to be written in native Evernote note format. Evernote lets us store many different formats, including MS Word, Excel, PDF and most image files. I save most of my documents as PDFs. My ScanSnap Scanner allows me to scan using text recognition, so everything I file is fully searchable; even receipts and business cards.
I have discovered, as with all my productivity systems, that less is more. Keep it simple and straight forward. As digital tools evolve and search tools are perfected, we will soon be dumping every file into one big bucket and reclaiming it with one simple search.
All my CAD files will remain in Dropbox, but I am slowly moving all my projects to Evernote. It works for me and everyday I am learning new ways to use this amazing tool.
Question: Do you use Evernote? Share some ways that this tool is making your life easier.