3 Steps to Organising my Evernote Mess

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I now have over 1000 notes and my evernote account is a MESS!

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE evernote! It does a fantastic job of remembering things for me. When I’m in the office supply store, and I can’t remember what kind of printer I have, never mind which ink cartridges to buy, I can search ‘printer ink’ and quickly find out what I need. When I’m in the home improvement store and I need a furnace filter, an evernote photo note of my filter reminds me what size to buy.

Evernote for genealogy research is fantastic! In the archives and wondering if I’ve researched a particular parish register film? I just search my notes for the film number and up pops the catalogue entry and any transcriptions or photo notes I’ve made. Wondering about a particular ancestor? A quick name search tells me everything I’ve found.

It absolutely works when I know I’ll be writing an article on a particular topic. I just clip everything I find on the subject and a quick keyword search recalls everything I’ve saved, complete with text, images and URLs.

Where the system falls apart, however, is all those things that I stumble upon while reading blogs, articles, RSS feeds in Feedly, quick speech-to-text notes to myself that would make great ideas for articles. Yes, I save them to my default folder in Evernote so that I can remember them later, but chances of me finding them are slim to none because what search term do you use to find things that you don’t even know the subject of? All those great ideas are just falling into the Evernote abyss, lost forever, until I think of them again!

Today is the day that I’m going to clean up my mess!

1. Clean up my tags!

Over time, I’ve managed to create duplicate tags. For example, I’m sure I don’t need #ideas, idea and ideas. It took me a while but I found the master tag list in the left-hand column of the Windows application. This list might be somewhere else in your version but it is there somewhere. First I began consolidating similar tags into one relevant tag. For example, I decided that the ‘idea’ tag would remain. I searched for all the notes flagged with #ideas and ideas and added the ‘idea’ tag and removed #idea and ideas tags. Finally, I deleted all the tags that were not attached to notes. These are the ones that have (0) next to them.

2. Turn notebooks into tags!

Now that my tags are cleaned up a little, its time to pare down the number of notebooks I have. Evernote does a great job keeping my stuff organised and searchable. I don’t need 32 notebooks! First I highlight all the notes in one of the notebooks and assign a relevant tag to each note. Next I move all the notes to a relevant notebook. Finally I delete the unwanted notebook.

3. Clean out my default notebook!

Now to tackle my default folder named ##Inbox that contains no less than 262 untagged notes. For the most part, I’m reduced to dealing with the notes one at a time. The process? Review and delete if no longer needed. If needed, tag and drag to the relevant notebook.

From now on, I promise to stop creating notebooks when a tag will do, be more consistent with my tags and keep my default notebook clean by tagging and moving notes regularly. And if I don’t keep my promise, well at least I’ll have this post to refer back to!

 

Image Credits: Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.net

Barbara J Starmans is a social historian, freelance writer and obsessed genealogist living in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada and has been doing genealogical research for the past 35 years. She is a graduate of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in Toronto, Canada with professional learning certificates in General Methodology and in English Records and recently become an instructor for them with an intermediate course on Social History.

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