InSearchOf: College Docs, Mental Stability and Peace @evernote @arguhlin

About This Blog Entry: A quick thanks to university student, GIS expert (as far as I'm concerned), and this week's Around the Corner guest blogger, Aida Guhlin (@arguhlin), for sharing her insights into Evernote. Aida Guhlin publishes regularly at The Prospect and WannabeScientist.
Full Title: The Search for the College Document: Prevent the Mental Breakdown and Uncontrollable Sobbing

Freshmen Orientation. Just the beginning of the paper flood. Does anyone recall those three days to a week of college orientation, with truly, bags of papers thrust at you? They seemed important...but the sheer amount was often so overwhelming that they were tossed aside, often straight into a trash can. Who knew that there was a sheet in there that explained the clear instructions on how to join the Wi-Fi?

But "what do?" is usually the response college students give. As far as most scattergorized students go, we take pictures of everything. The photos sit on our phones for months, only to have the phone run out of space. Then, we're left to quickly delete any pictures that may seem unnecessary. Alas, many of us have found ourselves panic-stricken when we realize the paper copy isn't where we thought it was, and scrolling through our phones reveal the digital copy is long since deleted. Worse, we have a digital copy, but with our blase snapping, we've kept a blurry photo where the most important part is unreadable.

As far as casual, quick digital recordkeeping goes, most students with smartphones are in one (or more) of these inefficient boats:
  • the infamous random camera capturing
  • Google's disorganized auto-backup system
  • the really clever photo album transferred occasionally to the computer
Google's auto-backup system works for its one purpose: to back up your photos. Otherwise, it doesn't serve many other purposes well. Often, the backup system takes up to fifteen minutes to back up a photo and by this point, our faux-multitasking brains are onto the next three tasks and completely over the whole digital recordkeeping concept. It's hard to access via your phone, and the computer interface is a bit overwhelming. 

The other option, a photo album in your camera gallery, isn't much different from random camera capture, except for the fact that we all get to pretend we're being really organized because we have a whole album for documents. That album is also the first to go when space runs low on your phone. You may actually be cool and transfer it over to your computer, but then the file just sits there and isn't too accessible via your phone when it's on your computer. Meanwhile, as those photos sit on your phone, album or not album, all it takes is a stolen phone to lose all the information you thought you had.

So, once again, what do?


Evernote actually seems made for smart documentation. An app and widget to go on your phone allows you to customize your phone-Evernote experience. My personal favorite is the document camera, which allows me to snap pictures of documents and upload them as "notes" in a "notebook" of my selection instantly. I take the picture, I title it, put it in a notebook and move on. The paper can be discarded of and I can move on with my life until the information is needed. Any college student knows the value of that.

One awesome perk is that these documents become searchable, whether they were typed or handwritten. Want to keep the handwritten information of your advisor? Snap a photo, save it to "College Info" and find yourself able to search for your advisor's name later. The same goes for the pictures of your friend's notes from the class you were late to (or slept through). Go on. Try it. You won't be sorry, and you'll definitely be greener recycling all that paper - and thank yourself later when you easily find the information later.

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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


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