When our circumstances change, our procedures change to match. Our desktop computers served as the center of our digital storage for two decades. Our procedures consisted of creating a system of folders within folders to house digital documents.

A decade ago, smartphones became common. Having information available from anywhere via those mobile devices became our desire. That’s why Evernote was founded in 2008. Today, it has over 200 million users.

If you’re looking for a better way to house the information you want available from anywhere, this article serves as a brief overview.

To get started …

You can create an account for free at Evernote.com. While you are at it, download the Evernote mobile app from the Apple iTunes Store or Google Play Store. Evernote on your phone will sync to your Evernote account on the web.

Evernote uses the metaphor of "notebooks." You organize information in them the way you might organize information in a three-ring binder. Let’s create the three must-have notebooks.

Inbox: The place for new arrivals

You need a place to trap new information quickly. Later in the day, you will review it and decide what you need to do about it. For example, you see an item in a store and want to include it as a gift idea. Pull out your phone. Snap a picture in Evernote. Put the phone back in your pocket.


When you get home, you will view your Evernote "Inbox" on your computer. There, you see everything you have thrown at Evernote during the day. Make decisions about what each item means to you, what you need to do about each item, and then move the items to the appropriate notebooks.

For example, when you view the photo of the item you wish to give as a gift, seeing it serves as a trigger to research where else you could buy the item, the price, etc. You would add this extra information to the note. In my case, I have a notebook called "Gift Ideas." I would drag the note to that notebook. At the end of the day, you want an empty "Inbox."

Some items are of temporary need. For example, you take a picture of the parking spot where you left your car. This photo helps you find the car after a trip. Once the trip is over and you have retrieved your car, the photo is of no use. Delete it.

Miscellaneous: Because you won’t know it all at the beginning

Your system of folders will emerge over time. Along the way, you will create notes and not be sure where to put them. Create a notebook and call it "Miscellaneous" so you have a place for notes when you don’t know where to put them.

Don’t worry if you have quite a few notes in "Miscellaneous" to begin. As your system matures, you will have a collection of notebooks that work for you.

Personal information

We all have random bits of information: hotel rewards numbers, airline frequent flyer numbers, the code to the copying machine, the automobile license plate number, serial numbers for major purchases, the dimensions of the air conditioner filter at home. The list could go on for pages.

Far too many people rely on sticky notes, random scraps of paper, or just trying to remember it all. Your "Personal Information" notebook in Evernote provides the answer. Within mine, I have notes entitled "A-C," "D-F," "G-L," etc. Within each note, I list the various accounts alphabetically.

Sometimes, you need that information, but all you have is your phone. When you have Evernote, your phone is all you need. Why not create an account today? Go to Evernote.com and get started.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders and was named to "Global Gurus Top 30" for 2017 in the time management category. He speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach Dr. Buck through his website: FrankBuck.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.