28 Tips to Turbo Charge Your Leadership with @Evernote

Are you a school administrator on the go who wants to increase transparency? Maybe, you have a desperate need to make sense of the world around you clamoring for attention? Or, you seek ways to streamline your work processes? 

Why not take advantage of Evernote.com, a way to create digital notebooks and notes that you can save pictures, audio, text, MS Office and PDF documents (and make them searchable!)?

A quick note: Evernote is free unless you want to tap into some special features, and those may well be worth it. After using Evernote for a few months, I promptly purchased the Premium annual license (about $50) because it was THAT useful since it offered--offline copies of notebooks, revision note history, etc. But you don't have to. Start with the Freemium version at no cost.

Let's Get Started!
Here are a few tips as to how EvernotePostach.io and other related services can make a difference. Remember, what you put in Evernote isn't just available on one device or another; it is simultaneously available on all, enabling you to jump from laptop to tablet to mobile phone and back again quickly!

Tip #1 - Organize Your Email
"Hundreds of emails flow into my inbox," shared one principal. "I'm always on the go. How am I supposed to figure out what to do with each one?" Whether you use Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail, you can take advantage of several approaches, including the following:

a) CloudMagic--which works on Android, iPhone and iPad--to quickly save emails to your Evernote Inbox. I like to sort mine into Notebooks, iDo and WorkDo, personal to do list and work-related to do. You can use CloudMagic's built-in support for Evernote to save content directly to a notebook.


b) Email content to yourself. Find your special Evernote Email (check your account settings), then add the name of the Notebook you want to file that email in to the Subject line. If you want to add a one-word descriptive tag, you can add a hashtag. Here's an example:

Subject: James Wilson Resume - @SecondGradeTeacherApplicants #interview

As you can see, the Evernote Notebook this email will be filed in is in bold letters, while the tag is italicized.


c) Use PowerBot for Gmail ($1.99 per month), which allows you to quickly drop your email into Evernote. Need to quickly document an email conversation about a staff who needs coaching or a students who needs mentoring? Powerbot will allow you to capture an entire email thread (all initial emails and responses) in one swoop. We'll revisit Powerbot for Gmail+Calendars ($2.99 a month) in another tip because of what it can do to automate meeting notes!

Tip #2 - Collect and Organize Critical Documents
"Every day," shares one administrator, "I have to manage a ton of documents, some of which are digital, others that are mostly paper. What tips do you have for me?" Whether it's business cards, invoices, permission slips, you can easily capture these documents with Evernote and place them in a secure, online space that is searchable. More importantly, each document becomes searchable. Going on a field trip? Scan all the student permission slips with parent/guardian contact information into Evernote. Need to share a notebook or a single note with others? It's easy to share the link, all from your mobile device or desktop computer.

To scan content, it's as easy as running the stack of papers through a copier-scanner then emailing that document to yourself or, if working with 10 pages or less (my limit, not Evernote's), snap pictures of each page using the Evernote app on your mobile device.

Or, if you'd rather not clutter your smartphone's Photo Gallery with work-related pictures, invest in the Evernote-friendly scanners--such as the mobile USB-powered DoxieGo ($162) or Fujitsu ScanSnap ($250), or the WiFi-friendly Fujitsu ScanSnap Evernote Edition ($495).

Tip #3 - Parent411: Manage Parent Contacts and Questions.
"Parents will email me, or catch me in the hall and ask me questions," said one assistant principal. "The thing is, many of them are asking the same question and I'm giving the same answer." Instead of answering the same question a thousand times, why not type up the question--and your response--and then save it in an Evernote Notebook entitled "Parent411" for information sharing. That way, next time someone asks you a question, you can provide a brief response, hand them a card, or SMS/text them a link to your Postach.io blog--which takes your Evernote Notebook and makes them into a series of blog entries--that can be shared online.

You can also record audio and share that conversation--be sure to ask for permission from participants--via your Postach.io blog (e.g. http://saacte13.postach.io or mguhlin.postach.io).

Tip #4 - Check That Off Your List!
"What I like to do every morning is make a checklist of what I need to do each day." She held up her phone and waved it in front of me with a smile. "If I run into new items, I just add them to my digital checklist and keep going!" A lot of us have "To-Do" lists but it's so easy to see them as a list of items that never gets worked through.

With Evernote, you can put all your To-Do items in a list, inserting checkboxes in front of each. As you finish them throughout the day, simply tap on the checkbox to place a checkmark. What a great visual way of working through your To-Do list or a long checklist.

For power users, consider the following search terms for long checkbox lists of To Do Items or project management:
  • If you type todo:false in the Evernote search box, this means you are looking for unchecked items in all your notes in all Evernote notebooks (or you could just open a notebook and search in that one).
  • If you type todo:true in the Evernote search box, this means you are looking for checked items.
  • If you type todo:* in the Evernote search box, this will show you all items with a checkbox.

Tip #5 - You are the Storyteller-in-Charge!
Want to better engage parents, community, students and teachers? Assign yourself the job of "Storyteller-in-charge" at your campus. This is your job, after all, and you can take advantage of Evernote app on your smartphone or tablet to capture pictures of great things teachers are doing, whether it's a lesson or coaching a child. You can also capture student work, ask them to share what they were thinking and record that reflection as an audio note.

That note gets embedded in your Evernote Note, and if you have Postach.io connected to that Notebook, you can publish it. In minutes, you've added another multimedia element to your school's digital wall.

Tip #6 - Problems, Problems-Document!
"The ceiling is leaking," pointed out a colleague. I picked up my iPad, snapped a picture into Evernote, shared the Room # and campus, then Share the link with the maintenance superintendent via a text message. Saving the situation in Evernote allowed me to come back to it later, not have to mess with figuring out how to get it out of my iPad's Camera Roll, etc.

As a school administrator, I run into problems daily. In the old days, I'd write a long email. Now, I snap a picture of the problem then quickly "Share Link" from Evernote to the person who can get the job done. If necessary, I add some audio to the note so that way, the other person knows what I think needs to be done.

Tip #7 - Capture Online Greatness and Share It
Heard of content curation? As an administrator, you are probably drowning in content. Everyone is sending you stuff, in digital and paper format. When someone sends you something, take a moment to save it to an Evernote Notebook. In that way, you can easily find it or search for it in Evernote.

If you are collecting your own online gems, you can use Evernote's Web Clipper to capture web page content--text, pictures--and then save it to the appropriate Notebook in Evernote. Once there, you can choose to share the Notebook with others so they can see what great stuff you've gathered. You might also want to try Clearly, an add-on for Chrome that simplifies content, getting rid of extraneous junk (e.g. advertisements) and hones in on the content you really want to keep.

Evernote Premium ($50 per year) enables you to share Notebooks with others, and those with Evernote Freemium accounts can view and modify notes. This is great for an administrator who wants to gather content but also invite others to contribute or enhance.

Tip #8 - Save Your Best Speeches, Emails, Materials
I don't know about you but having to re-create content from scratch is a major pain. I'm more inspired when I look at what I've already done, then try to build on that. Create an Evernote Notebook for your favorite content so that you never have to re-invent the wheel again. Think of Evernote as that notebook where you save your best work before you put it in a book, a presentation, an article, or use it in a presentation. I wrote this entire article in Evernote and then pasted it into this blog post!

Tip #9 - Track Your Meetings
As an administrator, if you're like me, you have to attend an endless parade of meetings. As much as I love meetings, there's no way to keep track of them all. Many of the meetings, you're going to type notes--or write them out longhand--that won't make sense to others. I like to start up Evernote and tap on the microphone. This enables me to record the entire meeting, even as I take notes with a keyboard or pad-n-pen. If you are a pad-n-pen type, consider using Penultimate--which supports Evernote and is no-cost--to capture content (and, if you have the money, you might consider buying the Adonit Jot Script Stylus designed for Evernote).

In addition to saving my notes, audio recording of meetings, I also quickly snap pictures of meeting paper materials, including business cards (which are auto-scanned on iOS devices and put into text format for easier searching along with a copy of the business card - View this example), meeting agendas, and handouts.

You can also attach documents (e.g. Word files or PDF files less than 100 pages long or 25 megs). Everything is searchable, especially if you have an Evernote Premium account (e.g. scanned images inside of PDFs are searchable in Premium, but not Freemium version).

Tip #10 - Magically Create and Share Your Meeting Notes
"How did you read the notes from the meeting?" I asked a teammate. His response highlighted a feature in Powerbot for Gmail+Calendars ($2.99 a month) that I hadn't been aware of. 

Powerbot had magically looked at my Gmail Calendar (works with GoogleApps, too), then created a Notebook in Evernote and a Note for every meeting I attended. Even better, it had a template for the meeting already created so I wouldn't have to deal with a blank page to start typing on. 

Then, it added a link to my Evernote Note for the meeting to my Google Calendar invitation so that others could read my notes. What a time-saver!

Tip #11 - Scan Your Handwriting, Snap Your Whiteboard
Are you a fan of pad-n-pen? Think better with a dry erase marker in your hand and a wall-size canvas in front of you? Me, too!  If you are, or work with someone who is, then you may want to take advantage of Evernote's ability to engage in optical character recognition (OCR).

OCR, as it's commonly known, is a service that you usually had to pay high dollar for, but Evernote makes it easy for those of us who like to write notes out by hand to scan the text. Of course, OCR features work even better with typed text, so take a picture of a printed document. If you really want to go whole-hog with handwriting, consider the Evernote MoleSkin. Note that handwriting is not searchable inside PDF documents.

Another neat tip is to photograph a whiteboard you and your team have been writing/drawing on, then make that available online. Again, it's easy to share your Evernote Notebook or auto-share to a Postach.io blog.
Tip #12 - Organize Your Kindle Book Content
Recently, I had the chance to read Dufour's and Marzano's Leaders of Learning on my iPad in the Amazon Kindle app. I was overjoyed at how easy it was to highlight and share content as a tweet. But did you know that you can--with some work--capture your highlights straight from the Kindle.amazon.com site and then save that to Evernote? That's great news because it makes it easy to keep all your book notes in one place.

The steps that I followed included a) Highlighting great content in the book; b) Going to Kindle.amazon.com and logging in to see my highlighted notes; c) Use the Evernote WebClipper to capture the content.

The formatting for this content is not too pretty, so you may want to clean it up before sharing it with others. However, it's all searchable, so you can easily pull up great content. And, of course, you can always re-organize it, as I did here.

Tip #13 - Add Quick Check Items to Shortcuts
On my phone, I have some quick links to Evernote Notes or Notebooks that I want frequent access to. For example, I have critical phone numbers for emergency response in a Note. Evernote enables me to put a link to that note as a shortcut.

Of course, if you have a lot of notes (and you will, trust me!), then you can create a master list of important notes, effectively building a clickable table of contents. If you're using the Evernote app on your Windows or Mac computer, you can select "Copy Note Link" to get a link to a particular note. Paste that link into your "table of contents note" then put that TOC note in your shortcuts. This enables me to quickly get to important content that I want to have quick access to at a moment's notice.

Tip #14 - Stack Your Notebooks
These days, everyone I know is learning something, whether it's a graduate class or curating content from a professional learning community (PLC) or network (PLN). Why not organize what you're learning into Notebooks?

For example, I put everything I am learning that's related to leadership in a notebook called Lead. That notebook is "stacked" under a heading of Share. In the Share "stack," I have many other notebooks that I keep for the purpose of sharing with others, including notebooks for Curriculum, Chief Technology Officers, Evernote Tutorials, Linux, and more.

Tip #15 - Collect and Curate Your Twitter Favorites
Are you a Twitter-holic? If you're like me, you are constantly scanning the hundreds (or thousands) of twitterati that you follow, frantically tapping on the star that "favorites" a tweet, sending a bit of karmic thanks to the twitterer. But you are also creating a trail of breadcrumbs, each a bit of nourishment for your learning that you can revisit later. The problem is, you have to use Twitter to review your Favorites.

Instead, consider using If This Then That (IFTTT.com) to automatically save anything you "favorite" on Twitter to an Evernote Notebook. Here are a few of my favorite things from Twitter. Learning to use IFTTT.com is quite easy and you'll be up and running in no time!

Once you start saving your Twitter favorites via IFTTT.com to Evernote, you'll promptly want to turn around and share those with others. You can do that in two ways:

a) Turn on Sharing for your IFTTT Twitter notebook. This will make it easy for others to access your favorites as an Evernote collection.

b) Create a Postach.io blog using your IFTTT Twitter notebook in Evernote as its source. That means that anything you favorite will be saved to Evernote, then automatically posted to Postach.io (you'll need to modify your IFTTT.com recipe to add the required "published" tag to each note).

The neat thing about Postach.io is that you can set it up to re-share your Postach.io blog posts BACK to your Twitter or Facebook account. This is a painless process once it is setup and can make it very easy to "retweet" while saving content for future investigation in Evernote.

Another Evernote and Twitter tip to keep in mind...you can send anything you tweet to Evernote by adding @myen to the it. Find out how.

Tip #16 - Track Travel Receipts
It's amazing how little I travel now as an administrator. That said, even though I spend a lot of time at work, there are times when I do travel. Managing receipts has always been a chore. These days, I don't bother with trying to keep all the paper copies. After checking with the Finance folks, I snap pictures of my receipts for food, pictures of my odometer, to help me keep track of everything that has to do with travel. What a relief to not have to manage little pieces of paper!

Tip #17 - Create a Slideshow of Pictures
Most presentations these days are image-centric...photos help you tell a tale. As a traveler, I don't just use Evernote to keep track of travel receipts. I also keep track of food. If I find food I like and want to take a picture of so I can share it with others when I get home, I snap a picture of that and keep a "food notebook."

Imagine this concept with walking through a Conference Exhibit Hall and taking pictures of stuff you'd like more information on, or maybe you would like to share. You can categorize those pictures for the Finance Department, Maintenance Department, Technology Department, etc. Although I haven't tried it yet, Evernote makes it possible to turn any notebook into a slideshow.

Tip #18 - Record 30 second Audio Notes to Yourself
You're not the only one who thinks of great, world-changing ideas on the way to work when writing on a pad of paper would be inconvenient. But quickly recording yourself using Evernote microphone on your phone takes all of two seconds. On Android devices, you can convert voice recordings to text. For other devices, you can use Voice2Note to transcribe Evernote-recorded audio notes--English only--that are 30 seconds or less to searchable text (or, you can call a phone number in the U.S. and it will save to Evernote). 

Note that the 30 seconds or less plan is the "Basic" plan and free. You can pay $30 per year and get the Pro plan which offers more features.

Tip #20 - Save Your Searches
Looking for a quick way to search everything you've saved into your Evernote Notebook? Then, take a moment to save your favorite searches and add that to your shortcuts. It's a time-saver, to quickly be able to pull up everything about "Leadership" that you may have clipped that didn't end up in the same notebook.

Tip #21 - EverClip Content on the Go
Are you an iPad or Android user? Then this tip is for you, especially if you curate content from web browsers. EverClip 2 is an iPad app that makes it easy to grab content from any app on your iPad then drop it into Evernote. You can also find EverClip on Android. Of course, if you are on a computer, install Evernote Clearly. It allows for highlighting of content. You can highlight what you want then remove the unhighlighted sections in your Evernote Note that it automatically creates.

Feature Request: Make it so ONLY the highlights are sent to Evernote!

Tip #22 - Set Reminders For Yourself
As a school administrator, you probably will want to keep track of events. Evernote allows you to set reminders by tapping on the alarm clock, then choosing a date. Evernote will remind you of the upcoming event in various ways. Once you're done, you can remove the reminder by "checking it off."

Tip #23 - Annotate Images with Skitch and Evernote
Combine the power of image capture in Evernote with image annotation using Skitch, a free companion app for Evernote. You can easily add arrows, text to any image you've saved to Evernote provided the Skitch app is loaded on your mobile device.

Tip #24 - Protect Confidential Notes
If you are using the Mac or Windows version of Evernote on your computer, then you have the ability to encrypt the text content of your notes. This can be handy when dealing with confidential information that may find its way into your Evernote Notebooks. If you are on a mobile device, you can also add a passcode to prevent just anyone from accessing your Evernote Notebooks and notes. This can be a life-saver if your phone falls into the wrong hands.

If you are an encryption whiz, then you might give this approach a try, using the no-cost Mailvelope add-on for Chrome browser.

Of course, if you are going to keep confidential data in Evernote, definitely encrypt any attachments using a third party tool, such as 7zip.org for Windows and/or Linux, or Keka for Mac. These compression+encryption solutions employ AES-256 encryption protocols. Avoid putting anything confidential in the cloud unless it is encrypted first.

Finally, you can also take advantage of 2-factor authentication so that you know your Evernote content is always protected (or someone has to have your mobile phone and know your password) to pretend to be you. This can be a bit cumbersome but if you take advantage of GoogleAuthenticator (Android), this is not as bad as you might imagine.

Tip #25 - Capture What You See
Want to quickly capture what you're looking at on the screen? Use Evernote screen capture aspect of Web Clipper. While you already know that Evernote can help you capture what text you see, you may not know it can also allow you to clip pictures or snap a picture of your screen (a.k.a. screenshot). There are different key combinations to capture the screen if you are working on a Mac or Windows computer. You can also manipulate images in your Evernote Desktop (Mac/Windows), rotating them after clicking on them.

Tip #26 - Tracking Vendor Contacts
"When could we meet with you to share our product? We promise we won't take more than 30 minutes." Any campus or district administrator knows that vendors are going to come calling. One of the challenges I face is limiting those vendor contacts, while keeping track of whom I've spoken to on the phone, received emails from, etc. Before, I would sort them into company folders in my email. Problem with that approach is that I'd have to remember who I was talking to, their company, etc. 

Now, I can organize by project and match vendors to the job. All of this information--including business cards--allows me to dig up the names of people matched up to projects.

Tip #27 - Organizing Your Memos and Emails
Do you send out lots of emails or memos? If you are still composing those in MS Word or GoogleDocs, then you need to reconsider that approach. While it’s fun to organize documents in G-Docs, or saving it as a DOCx file on your computer, you may be better off placing your memos or email drafts in Evernote. Not only are they searchable, spell-checked, but it’s more visual. How many documents have you lost because you couldn’t remember where you filed a document in a hierarchy of folders or you lost an Internet connection (in fact, I spent some time one day this week without internet access, organizing my notes in Evernote)? 

Tip #28 - Search and Rescue Your Ideas
"But, there's so much stuff in Evernote Notebooks! How do I find it all?" If you end up with tons of data--and you will no matter what you do unless you practice what librarians call "weeding," (which means getting rid of old stuff)--here are some suggestions for better searching.

Although I haven’t mentioned it much in this list of tips, you can also add one-word descriptors (a.k.a. tags) to each note in Evernote. This gives you another level of search ability. It also eliminates trying to keep track of a million Word documents on your computer.

Some tag search tips:

  • Use any: in front of your keyword searches (e.g. any: budget funding) to pull up any of the words in the search (budget OR funding). Otherwise, Evernote only searches for those two words in combination (budget AND funding).
  • Use notebook: to specify the notebook you want to search in.
  • If you use tags, you can subtract the tag from your search by typing -tag:funding budget (this search is the equivalent of searching on budget NOT funding).
You can also save your searches, which can be convenient once you start down this road of more complex searches.

And, if you think Evernote is great at keeping YOU on track and being organized, then imagine what it might do for your students. Find out more about Evernote for Schools.

If you haven't tried Evernote, then you will certainly want to do so. It's a time-saver extraordinaire!

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Angry Thinker said…
Your tip #1: transferring your mails from your mail app Inbox to Evernote just transfers the Inbox overload but does not solve it. People want to have it solved.

Your tip # 27: sending a mail message from within Evernote (which is what I assume you mean with this tip) leaves a problem for later on. Mail messages sent from Evernote are not recorded, therefore leave no trace therefore are not searchable.

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