EvernoteOne of the greatest challenges I have as a product manager is staying on top of the market, trends, competitors, specific research projects, etc. Add to that the burden of managing, storing, and organizing all of that information, it can quickly become a tangled mess of information that you can never seem to find right when you need.
And then there was Evernote. I splurged and got the premium version ($45 dollars a year) which comes out to less than $4 a month (yes, I can do some basic math). Here's how I use it:
- Browser Extensions - This is the 1st thing I would do. Do a search for a browser plugin/extension from Evernote. This extension will let you store URLs as notes. As you research online and find something online just clip the URL in Evernote for permanent storage. It's nicer than storing a bookmark. The key here is to make it very easy to store research in Evernote. This can be done for PDFs you find online as well.
- Tagging - As you clip your articles, tag them. Evernote does a great job of making this easy to do and will autofill your tags as you start typing them to make it very easy. I find the tagging is very easy to find content.
- Folders - Once you get a decent amount of content in Evernote you'll notice it's all in one place. It then makes sense to create folders and move the content into the right folder. I like to start adding the content to Evernote and then organize it instead of pro-actively trying to organize and create folders I may never need. Folders will make it easy to find content.
- Email Address - This is a feature that I initially didn't use, but now that I have an iPad I use more and more. Evernote gives you an email address that you can send notes to and it will automatically be stored in Evernote (in a default folder). I use it a lot when folks email me research or content about a project and then all I have to do is just forward it to Evernote. This makes it very very easy to store content.
- Shared Folders (Premium Features) - This is where it really gets cool. I know there are times when I'm too busy handling engineering requests, working with sales, etc. that I'm not researching or up to speed on the latest competitive or market changes. So I essentially have crowdsourced this. I asked several folks at work who have sent me content in the past to install Evernote (many were already using it) and then I shared folders with them and gave them links to install browser extensions and then we could all add to the same folders and take advantage of the research of the entire team. Best of all, they don't have to the paid version, so it's free for them and super easy. Nothing beats other folks making your job easier!
- SocialFolders - I would be remiss, if I didn't mention another favorite tool I use in conjunction with Evernote. I use SocialFolders whenever I have files or photos that I want to add to Evernote. SocialFolders creates folders on your hard drive that mimics your folders in Evernote. Any file you put in those folders appears in the corresponding folder in Evernote. Easy!
- LiveScribe Pen - I use this pen to help me store my handwritten notes. Call me a little bit old school but I like to take a pen and paper to meetings rather than my laptop to meetings. I then use Livescribe to send the notes to Evernote. Once again very easy. The cool part here is that notes are searchable within Evernote. The other benefit is that I also have a tool that converts the PDF into text which I can then use to distribute the notes. It works so-so, but it is nice to use and I have found it useful several times.