Evernote is a service that, according to its website, “helps people focus on what matters most to them.” The basic function of Evernote is to provide a platform for taking notes, but it does much more. It allows users to record notes, collaborate simultaneously, capture data in a variety of forms within the software, and customize their experience.
In the vision of Evernote’s founder, Stepan Pachikov, Evernote is conceptually designed to “remember everything” and it functions as an extension of the brain by remembering the past, building connections, and creating new ideas for the future.
There are myriad ways Evernote might be used in leadership, both for individual leaders and for leadership of a team or organization. As an individual, Evernote enables leaders to take notes and capture ideas in virtually any format and then organize them in the way that makes the most sense for each person. Notes can be sorted, tagged, shared, and then accessed on any device. As a team, Evernote allows groups to work together virtually and collaborate on a document or a project simultaneously. It allows work to be shared among team members in a common web-based work setting or within a virtual bulletin board-type platform.
If there is a downside to Evernote, it may just be user preference. My own personal experience with Evernote goes back to 2012. I have continuously looked for the best way to be organized, efficient, and productive. I have used all sorts of platforms including word documents, excel workbooks, Microsoft Outlook and its tools, services and apps including Wunderlist, Smartsheet, Cozi, and Apple’s Notes and Reminders. In every case, I tend to use the tool for a while and then after a while I lose interest and then move on to the next possibility when I realize it is time to get my act together again. I have picked Evernote back up multiple times after breaks of various lengths. I think my difficulty with Evernote is one of its most basic premises: remember everything. In my own life, remembering everything is not the problem, prioritizing is my main challenge. I don’t want to remember everything, and I don’t have the time or the energy to try. Evernote tempts me to record and store stuff I may never need to see again, and all it ends up doing is cluttering both my brain and my Evernote database. I get that there are many ways I can organize my data so that it is easy and straightforward to access and keep straight, but at this point I value simplicity and that is something I do not think Evernote provides, at least in my own experience. With that being said, I do continue to use Evernote on occasion and during my reading this week I realized I can get the Premium Evernote service for half price as a Creighton student, so I bought the subscription and will see if I can improve on my experience this time around.
In Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future, he talks about different unstoppable trends. In the first three chapters, he discusses the forces of Becoming, Cognifying, and Flowing. In each case, Evernote is already making use of these technological forces in the service it offers. Becoming, or the phenomenon of constant change and development, is manifested in Evernote. The company was formed in 2008 and has undergone constant change and development since that time. Cognifying, or the process of making inanimate objects more intelligent through artificial intelligence, is something Evernote has used extensively in a couple major ways. One, they partnered with Moleskin in 2012 to collaborate on a digital-friendly notebook that allowed users to upload handwriting in the notebook to Evernote’s digital platform. Two, they not only made handwritten notes searchable, but the entirety of one’s account can be searched for content across all the different types of data within Evernote. Flowing, or the idea of real-time access and updates, fits with Evernote’s vision because the service allows notes to be tagged, data to be stored on the cloud and accessed from any device, and it all to happen in real-time.
Finally, Evernote improves productivity because it allows an practiced user to stay organized by not only storing data but making it easier to sort and find later. Evernote has also partnered with a variety of other companies to integrate offerings including Microsoft Outlook, Google Drive, Salesforce, and Slack, among others. My overall impression of Evernote is very positive as I can see the value of what it offers even though my own personal experiences have been mixed because of my own preferences and tendencies.