A couple of weeks ago, I posed a question on my private facebook account… “What tools do you use to keep your ideas organized?!”
Lately, my organization plan has been scraps of paper and little notes around my office, bedroom, kitchen, and purse, and honestly, they’re all getting lost. The other day I had to spend a full 20 minutes searching for the recipe I had created for my Oscar Cupcakes I shared earlier in the week. Plus, when I use those notes, there’s no way to use pictures.
Sure, there’s Pinterest, but I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. For one, sometimes I have trouble going back to pins that I’ve pinned, and for two, I wanted an interface where I could use my own photos as well as web photos, which I can do on pinterest, but not quite so privately. I wanted more space for writing notes about what was inspiring me, and muse about ways that I could improve upon an idea, change an idea, or utilize one idea to create an entirely different one.
For example, when I was working on my Oscar Cupcakes, I started with around 10 different cream cheese recipes and 3 different suggestions for making cake taste homemade. From there, it was a process of experimentation, elimination, and adaptation. I wrote down the recipes on post-its, then threw away the recipes that didn’t work or marked my changes on the ones that were close.
The problem? Some of my “trash” notes got mixed in with my “keep” notes, and I almost had to re-make the entire batch of cupcakes before remembering which ones were keepers and which weren’t.
Oh, and I also wanted a system that would sync with the web, just in case I had another computer error like I did recently, where I lost a lot of files.
Finally, I wanted something free.
Cue Evernote… the best idea organizer I’ve found in recent history.
First, you can capture anything, from photos to text to sound. And by the way, those photos can come from both the web AND your computer. Oh, and it’s all drag-and-drop, so you don’t need to save something and upload it. You just… drop it in.
It syncs frequently, which means that if you’re one of those cool people with an iPhone (I’m not. Seriously, my phone can make calls, and if it’s in a good mood, it can text), you could clip a recipe you found on pinterest while using your computer, then you could go to the store and open your note and know exactly what ingredients to buy from there.
Not only can you run a search by keyword in the text you’ve added in the note, but it will also read the text inside of images!
Oh, and it’s free.
So, how do I use Evernote? Well, this is it…
I open a new note. I title it something… for example, I could have titled one “Fall Flavors Tour” for my recent post series containing several recipes.
I could start by typing in flavors that remind me of fall, like pumpkin and cinnamon. Then, when I tell my mom about the series, she can remind me of those cute leaf plates I bought a couple of years ago on clearance, and how they’d fit perfectly in a fall flavors post. I can write a note to myself reminding me that those plates are in storage in the basement and I need to bring those up.
I could scan the recipe from the old church cookbook that has the Better Than Sex dessert recipe in it, then drag and drop that recipe into my note. Below that, I could make notes saying “Try with pumpkin pudding instead?”
I could search for ideas on pinterest, then I could drag and drop things I liked from there into my post. I could make notes of the source of the image, and what I like about it.
I can show my mom my evernote board and have her look over my ideas, and help me narrow down to the best few. Then, I can head into the kitchen and try things. As I try them, I can write out recipes in my note, then make adjustments to the recipes as I work, taking notes on what I’m changing.
When I invite my taste-testers over, I can write down some of the comments they made about flavors, and I can find out which recipes they’d continue with, and which they’d nix.
If I found an idea while searching for fall recipes that would is awesome, but doesn’t fit my theme, I could open a new note and put it there.
Oh, and if my computer crashes? That’s okay, because it’s all synced online. I don’t even have to remember to hit the save button.
Bottom line: Evernote is where it’s at.
I’m not going to stop using pinterest. Not only is it a great source for inspiration, but it’s a great place to share ideas and hold onto some of my favorites that aren’t quite ready to go into a note yet. I’m also not done with my sticky note method– there are certain aspects of that method that work well, especially since a note takes up less counterspace than my laptop. However, I am going to make an effort to integrate my baking notes into my Evernote notes.
So, if you’re looking for an awesome interface that can keep your ideas organized, check out Evernote at http://www.evernote.com.
Oh, and bonus… not only does it work well for bloggers like me, it’s great for everyone. For example, my brother is studying Brazil right now. He could use that to aggregate images and information from around the web, being sure to note the source of the information, and then use that to integrate into a powerpoint later. Plus, he could go back and forth from his laptop to the desktop without losing information or having to transfer documents on a flash drive. All of his photos and notes would be right there, available to him, at the click of a button. Plus, using Evernote web, he could add information while at the library looking up information, then go home and have that information available to him there.
This program is amazing. Can you tell?