Evernote is by far one of the best apps I’m using. It’s one of the few apps that truly make a difference in my life and saves me tons of time, energy and frustration. I am convinced that Evernote can help you become more efficient and effective as well as you serve in youth ministry. I’ll show you why.
What is Evernote
It’s an app (either web based or installed on your MacBook, laptop, pc, smartphone, etc) that lets you collect any digital information and store it. The basic version is free, but the premium version I’m using has tons of extra features. Check the differences between basic and premium out on the Evernote site.
You can add files in any format (basic version only allows for images, links and pdf), clip complete webpages to Evernote (where they are readable as pdf), share notes via Twitter, Facebook or email and you can even do voice recordings when you want to record your thoughts. If you add a scanner (like the Fujitsu ScanSnap we have, take note that you’ll need another version of the ScanSnap if you have a pc), you can scan anything you want to, straight into Evernote. It’s a dream come true.
3 great ways to use Evernote in Youth Ministry
1. Manage to do list
I like the Getting Things Done method and Evernote is perfect for that. I have made notebooks for each month, for each day of the week, one for ‘next week’ and a ‘waiting for’ notebook. Any actionable item is placed in one of these notebooks.
On any given day, I know exactly what I want/need to do that day and what the rest of my week looks like. Example: in August I need to make the reservation for the accommodation we’ll want to rent for your leader’s retreat. I write a note with that task and put it in the August notebook. When August comes around, I’ll transfer it to a certain day and it gets done on time.
But the great thing is that I can just type ‘rent accommodation, but I can also clip the website I need to go with it, or forward the emails I’ve exchanged with the owner from my mail program to Evernote or attach any other document. All info I need to execute this task is in one place!
Another example: I visit a youth leader’s blog and I want to respond to a post or a comment, but I don’t have the time right now. I clip the page to Evernote and put it in tomorrow’s file as an actionable item. Done!
When I’m in a meeting, any task I’ll have to do, I put into Evernote immediately. I don’t have to write them down somewhere or wait for the minutes to be made.
The bottom line is that managing your to do list with Evernote is easy, it means it’s always accessible and you have everything you need in one place, so it will save you a lot of time and you’ll never forget to do anything again.
2. Collect ideas
One of the things about Youth Ministry is that we’re always collecting ideas for events, services, conferences, etc. They’re stuck in a binder, a box or simply put on a big pile that we never look at again. My biggest problem was that I would have all these resources, but how to find anything was a huge challenge. Not anymore. I scan, clip or attach anything into Evernote. Because it has text recognition, you can search on any term used in the clipping. And you can also add keywords (‘tags’) to any note to easily find it back.
I have a whole notebook full of ideas that is fully searchable. Looking for a game? I search ‘game’ and 45 notes appear. Looking for anything having to do with small groups? The right search term will help me find what I need.
3. Organize events
Whenever I organize a big event, I create a notebook for it (for smaller things a note suffices). Anything having to do with the event, I dump into that notebook (think of confirmations of reservations, info on things you want to rent, emails with the team about the state of affairs, etc). The actionable items go on my to do list and I have all my reference files in one place. You can even share this notebook with anyone else involved so they know what to do as well.
I hope by now you have an idea of what Evernote can do for you. I’ll devote another post to how Evernote can change the way you work in youth ministry.
Any other enthusiastic Evernote users out there? What do you like best about it?