Posted 12.10.2014

Posted 12.10.2014

How I Use Evernote to Get the Most Out of It

Every person should have a system to keep track of information because there’s too much to keep track of in your mind.


“What we’re learning is that your mind is not for holding ideas, it’s for having ideas. People are still trying to use their psyche as their office and their reminder system, and it doesn’t work–it’s not designed for that. In an evolutionary way, your brain is brilliant at being able to look at things and recognize patterns and tie that into long-term memory, but it can’t remember worth a hoot.”

Interview with David Allen, A Life of Productivity.

Evernote is one of the tools in my toolbox that I could not live without. I use it every day to do just that: hold ideas.

Inspiration before Pinterest

Evernote Screenshot

I started using Evernote in 2008. It was essentially my personal Pinterest board of inspiration before Pinterest existed. I’ve tried other services over the years (ember, DevonThink, VooDoo Pad, and Yojimbo). But, at the end of the day, I can’t get past Evernote’s integration across multiple devices, image support, and easy import.

Support Across Multiple Devices

Evernote on Multiple Devices

Evernote has a web app and dedicated apps beautifully designed for the Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Droid. This means that regardless of where I’m at or what I’m doing, I have access to my stuff. When you’re talking about a product being an extension of your brain, this is a must.

I love being able to sit in a brainstorming meeting about design and be able to quickly locate a piece for visual reference.


There are a few ways you can get content into Evernote:

  • Email You can send an email to a unique address (provided by Evernote). Practically applied: I have a separate notebook for every client. When a client emails me with content for their project, I’ll forward their email to Evernote, labeled appropriately (#CLIENTNAME) and tagged with @content. This makes it very easy to keep everything together, especially when they send me content in multiple emails from different people.

  • Web Clipper & Clearly Evernote has a browser extension that makes it simple to clip full web pages or parts of a page.

    Check the settings for this plugin, too. You can set it so that when you Google something, results from your Evernote account are listed to the right.

    Evernote in Google Results

    If you end up doing this a lot, check out Evernote Clearly. You can highlight and annotate before clipping.

  • Hazel script I have a folder on my desktop called “SENDTOEVERNOTE” Anything that I drop in that folder, automatically gets sent to Evernote and then deleted from the folder.

    Here’s a look at the Hazel script that running:

    Evernote and Hazel

    As you can see, it’s running an AppleScript. Included below:

    Where you see “!! INBOX” — that’s the name of my Evernote notebook that it puts everything in. On a good day, I’ll go back through to sort and tag.

Coding Snippets

  • Programming notebook: I’ll also keep a lot of coding snippets within Evernote. This makes it really easy if I encounter the same problem, but can’t remember the solution or how I set things up.

    All programming (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL) snippets go into a programming notebook. Same deal.

  • WordPress notebook: I have so many WordPress snippets that I’ve given WordPress it’s own notebook. You can also limit your search within Evernote to a specific notebook. Actually, you can do quite a bit with Evernote’s search…


Check out the Evernote post over on Tuts+. I pulled this off their site. It’s a list of some of the keyword searches you can run:

  • Notebooks: Enter notebook:[notebook name] to search for notes stored in a specific notebook. For example, notebook:apple will display all research related to my aforementioned article about Apple.
  • Tags: Enter tag:[tag] to search for notes tagged with a specific keyword. For example, tag:history will display every note I have created that is tagged History. Entering -tag:[tag], however, will search for all notes nottagged with that specific tag.
  • Dates and Time: If you would like to find every note created in the last day, enter created:day-1 in the search box. Alternatively, type created:day-30to view every note created in the last 30 days, or created:[YYYYMMDD] to view notes created on a day of your choice. For example, created:20140210will show every note created on 10th February 2014.
  • Files and More: Finally, enter resource:image/* to view every note containing an image or resource:audio/* for audio.


A little hidden gem that not everyone knows about is stacking your notebooks (kind of like nesting). Simply drag one on top of the other.

Here’s a list of some of the main notebooks I use, to get you started:

  • !! INBOX: This is my default notebook. Everything goes here, first, before it’s sorted.
  • APARTMENT: Notes related to our apartment. For example, we have custom light bulbs for our track lighting system. I have a note about what kind of bulb it is, so when I’m out and about shopping, there it is.
  • BLOG Stack: This contains a separate notebook for drafts and published posts. As the name suggests, drafts contain ideas and posts I’m working on. Once the post is published, it gets moved to the “PUBLISHED” notebook.
  • BUSINESS Stack: This notebook contains business ideas, services, processes, etc.
  • INSPIRATION: This notebook contains all the graphic design images I find online and use for visual research. I use tags for more granular categorization (print, identity, script, color, etc). Reason being: sometimes an image/note will fall into more than one category and you can easily apply more than one tag to an element, but you can only place that note within one notebook.
  • FINANCE: I went thorough a brief stint where I scanned receipts and bills directly into Evernote. Recently, I’ve kept them out of Evernote and in a folder structure on my hard drive. Honestly, I’m not sure which method is better, but I like keeping receipts out of my Evernote results.
  • HELLO: Evernote has a few applications that help extend its functionality, Evernote Hello being one of them. This particular app helps keep track of the people you meet, where you meet them, and their contact information.
  • MENUS: This is a great place for keeping menus for local restaurants.
  • PROGRAMMING Stack: I went into some detail about this above. This stack essentially contains code snippets that I use over and over again or snippets I’ve discovered when troubleshooting.
  • PROJECTS (CURRENT) Stack: These are current projects that I’m actively working on.
  • PROJECTS (FINISHED) Stack: These are essentially archives for projects that I’ve finished.
  • PROJECTS (POSSIBILITIES) Stack: Projects that I’ve submitted estimates on, but haven’t been approved yet.
  • RECIPES: As the name suggests, recipes. I just clip recipes I find online. However, Evernote also has an extension for recipes: Evernote Food. I haven’t looked into it, but it may be worth checking out.
  • REFERENCE: This is essentially my miscellaneous stack:

    • GIFT IDEAS: When a see something online that would make a good gift, I’ll use the Web Clipper to make a note of it. This helps when birthdays and Christmas roll around.
    • MOLESKINE SCANS: Even though I use Evernote, nothing can beat the old fashioned pen and pencil. I have years worth of moleskines filled. If I have pages that I want to go back and reference frequently, I’ll scan them in and save them to this notebook. Through OCR technology, Evernote has the ability to read your handwriting, so these are easily searchable.
    • TEMPLATES: These are note templates that I can easily right click and “Copy to Notebook…” I have items like Client Needs Analysis Template, Client Profile Template, Meeting Notes Template, Phone Call Template, etc. They all provide a great starting point.
    • REFERENCE: These are items that I want to refer back to later. For example, a trigger list for running a GTD review, User manuals for products I own, cheat sheets, etc.
    • TO READ: These are articles or email newsletters that I want to read later, when I have more time. Similar to Instapaper or Pocket.
    • WISH LIST: This is similar to the gift ideas notebook, except this one is just for me and products I have my eye on.
  • Skitch: I use Skitch to quickly annotate screenshots. Skitch will automatically upload those screenshots to Evernote where I can save them and share them.
  • TRAVEL Stack: I’ll create a notebook for every trip I go on. I’ll forward airline, hotel, and rental car confirmations. This makes it really easy when I’m at the airport trying to find confirmation numbers. Plus, it keeps me from having to search through months worth of emails. I’ll also create a note that contains every address that I might need on a particular trip. Evernote will automatically turn addresses into links so when I pull up that note on my phone, tap on the address, Maps will automatically launch with that address pre-filled. Nice!

Additional Resources

Still looking for more? Check out these resources:


Needless to say, Evernote is robust. —And just in case you were wondering exactly how robust it is, I have over 21,000 notes!These days, information is not the problem, but keeping track of it is. You need a system in place to help you keep track of everything, otherwise you’ll make yourself go crazy, trying to keep of it all.

Are there any tips and tricks you have for using Evernote? How do you have your notes organized?

Posted 12.08.2014

Posted 12.08.2014

8 WordPress Plugins I Put on All my Sites

Coding Webpages

There are eight plugins that I put on all the WordPress sites I build. Not only do they speed up development, but they also enrich my clients’ experience.

Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

Advanced Custom Fields

From a development standpoint, this WordPress plugin is a MUST HAVE. It makes it easy to create custom fields within posts, pages, or custom post types.

Sure, you can enter values into custom fields or program post meta data. However, this plugin makes customization much, much easier. Plus, there are several different field options (if you have a PRO): repeater field, photo gallery, options panel, flexible content.

I can’t tell you how many clients have told me how intuitive I’ve made the backend, simply because I use this plugin.

You can download version 4 for free or buy a personal license (1 site) for $25 or a development license (unlimited sites) for $100.

Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms

This plugin allows you to create all kinds of forms for your site. You could argue that Contact 7 accomplishes the same purpose, however this is much more extendable.

  • You can create forms with multiple pages.
  • By default, all submissions are also saved within the backend and can be exported as a CSV.
  • You can write in form logic (if there user answers this way, display these questions).
  • I can write conditions to determine who receives email notifications, based on the type of content entered.
  • With the Developer edition, you can connect the form to MailChimp so that users are automatically added to a mailing list.
  • With the Developer Edition, you can also connect your PayPal or Stripe account to accept payment and / or donations.

The price tag on Gravity Forms is a little steeper than ACF:

  • $39 – Personal license (1 Site)
  • $99 – Business (3 Sites)
  • $199 – Developer (Unlimited Sites), advanced form add ons



This is a FREE plugin that has practically become the standard for Search Engine Optimization within WordPress. As you enter content, it will make recommendations on how to optimize your post for Google. People pay big money for SEO consultants, when this plugin can tell you practically everything you need to know.

WP DB Migrate Pro


Anytime I’m working on a site, I want to streamline my workflow. Migrating a site by hand is multi step process:

  • Copy the database
  • Change the Site URL and the Homepage URL
  • Replace the dev URLs with the production URLs
  • Update the permalinks

Once this plugin is set up, it reduces that process to 1 step:

  • Click the button.

It costs a little bit of cash, but well worth the cost:

  • $90 – Personal (12 Installs)
  • $199 – Developer (100 Installs)
  • $450 – Elite (unlimited installs)

<div class=“box”>NOTE: If you’re concerned about site speed and conscientious about the number of plugins you install, once you’re done developing a site, this plugin can be disabled.</div>

Backup WordPress

Backup WordPress

This plugin is peace of mind. It does exactly as the name suggests = Backs up WordPress.

When you’re backing up your site, there are 2 things to consider: backing up the database and backing up your files. This plugin handles both.

You can use either the free version or the developer version ($99). The Developer version can be installed on an unlimited number of sites and unlocks a number of different ways to backup your site: FTP, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Dropbox, etc.

This is not the only option out there. Backup Buddy, iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security), and VaultPress all offer similar services. The important thing, here, is that you are actually backing up your site. You’ll sleep better at night, especially, if you’re managing someone else’s site!

Intuitive Custom Post Order

Almost every time I create a custom post type for a client, they’ll need the ability to customize the order that the content appears in. This plugin allows them to go to the post listing and drag and drop posts into the order that they want. It lives up to the name = intuitive.

WP Help

WP Help

I wrote a post about how I create screencasts for all my clients, training them on how to use WordPress. This plugin creates a panel on the backend, where I can easily post all the screencasts I create. It’s nice because it places everything in one central location.

User Admin Simplifier

User Admin Simplifier

Sometimes, I want to limit what the client has access to, making it as easy as possible for them to update their site. This plugin allows me to quickly and easily control menus and navigation panels they have access to within the WordPress backend. I can even make modifications on a per user basis.

I’m all about workflow and systems and making the development process simple. It’s not about being lazy, it’s about being efficient. If installing a plugin, accomplishes that purpose, I say, “Go for it! Do it!”

What are some plugins that are must haves for you?