What is Evernote and 5 Ways I Use it to Run My Company

What is Evernote?

Evernote started out as a lightweight note taking, syncing and archiving app, but has quickly become a way to capture and collaborate on just about anything from concepts to projects.

What is SalesCrunch?

SalesCrunch is the next-generation online meeting platform with a focus on applying science to the art of selling. We are a fast-growing internet technology company backed by leading venture capitalists, including Accel Partners, First Round Capital, Nextview Ventures and AOL Ventures.

Where I use Evernote:

The beauty of Evernote is that it automatically syncs on all your devices. I have it installed on my three main devices:

  • MacBook Pro
  • iPad
  • iPhone

I use Evernote to run SalesCrunch in five main ways:

  • Note Taking: Obviously, most people start out using Evernotes for simply note taking.  We run a paperless office at SalesCrunch for several reasons: it saves money, encourages organization, boosts productivity, saves file storage space, makes information sharing and collaboration easier, keeps confidential information more secure, and has a positive impact on the environment.  You cannot take reams of paper with you to meetings and on the road for business trips, but you can take your entire life’s notes and memos with you on your iPhone using Evernotes. You cannot easily share hand written notes with team members in other locations, but you can share Evernotes with a single click.   Evernote is a driving force in the paperless office movement.
  • Virtual Project Management – As builders of the next-generation online meeting platform, we are big believers in the virtual workplace and distributed workforces.  More and more business is done virtually these days. We regularly sign five and six figure contracts without meeting vendors or customers in person. Why then should we limit finding great talent to a physical location? We have 12 employees distributed around the country and the globe. Three of us are in New York, two in San Francisco, one in Atlanta, one in D.C. one in North Carolina, one in New Jersey, one in Michigan, one in LA,  and one in the Philippines. We have tried several applications to manage projects and processes virtually, but keep coming back to the simplicity of Evernote.  I have a shared Evernote Notebook for every one on my team. We use notebooks to break projects down into tasks and deadlines. We can then collaboratively manage projects in realtime, check off tasks as they are completed and stay in sync on progress across multiple time zones without picking up the phone or adding more noise to our already clogged inboxes.

  • Capture Tool - I am a big proponent of the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity methodology. A key pillar of the system is to capture all your “stuff” in one place in order to have a single view so you can weight, prioritize and process projects and tasks. Evernote can capture pretty much anything, but here are a few of the big things I use it to capture:
    • White boarding: Startups are like art in that you are in a constant mode of creation. You are brainstorming new ideas and solving new problems every single day. I am a highly visual person and I find white boarding and mind mapping to be extremely effective and fun ways to brainstorm with my team. The challenge is capturing and sharing the offline white boarding thought process and next actions, especially when your team is distributed all over the map.  Everynote solves that problem by letting us upload pictures of the white boarding session and add additional notes or next steps in a shared notebook for reference, further collaboration or project management.
    • Read it Later – Let’s face it, we are all inundated with information these days. This is especially true in the technology space, as we are often producing a lot of the online content the world consumes. I could spend my entire day just reading all the great stories and articles about our industry and customers. If I stopped in the moment to read stuff as it came to me in email or as I browse the web I would never get anything else done. But I have down time on my commute or when traveling and its awesome to have a bunch of stuff saved for offline consumption.  Evernote has a very convenient Chrome browser plugin that lets me click a single button to capture articles, blog posts and even entire web pages with a click. I just whip out my iPhone or iPad on my commute, waiting at the airport etc and catch up on my reading. Awesome!
    • Meeting Notes – we covered note taking above, but I wanted to give you a few examples of how we use Evernote for collaborative note taking.  For internal meetings, we simply take turns being the official scribe or notetaker. That way one person takes notes and shares them with all participants at the end of the meeting.  It gives everyone else the opportunity to focus 100% on the conversation.   We do board meetings every six weeks and every board member uses Evernote on a variety of devices.  Everyone is taking notes on the stuff they care about and it’s easy for everyone to share their notes with me or each other at the end of the meeting. This gives me everyone’s unique perspective on what was important to them in each board meeting.
  • Blogging  - I am proud to label myself as a high-energy, thinker/doer type.  I am constantly on the go, I don’t need a lot of sleep, my mind is constantly spinning and the more there is to do the more I get done. I have a very hard time sitting still for very long and I do my best thinking when I am doing something physical. In fact, my best ideas come when I am working out, which I do four or five times a week. I have this mental image that all the information I consume on a daily basis clogs my mind, but it all gets literally shaken loose as I am pounding weights or running.  I don’t think I am alone: if you look back at the great Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle they did most of their thinking on their feet, walking around outside, not sitting still at a desk. If I try to sit still for an hour or two to write a blog post, for example, I instantly get writer’s block. But as soon as I start moving around the ideas start flying. Initially, I just used Evernote to capture these ideas, but now I just write blog posts in Evernote as the ideas come to me while working out, walking, commuting, etc. You can see from the below screenshot that I wrote this entire blog post in Evernote before putting it in WordPress and adding photos.

  • Getting Things Done - I mentioned above that one main tenant of the GTD system is capturing your stuff in one place.  Another main tenant is the idea of batching your like-tasks to reduce context switching, which significantly reduces productivity. Studies have proven that it takes 10 minutes to switch between tasks, so multitasking is a huge productivity drain. GTD solves this by having you organize and process all your similar todos at once. For example, do all your email in one session, all your errands at the same time, anything that requires you to be at the office at the same time, etc. There are hundreds of software applications built around GTD that help you organize your to-dos in like-batches. I use Omnifocus, one such application, but I am slowly moving to Evernote to streamline my capture and task management into one place and to be able to easily share projects and related tasks with my team who don’t use GTD or Omnifocus. I really like the simple check boxes in Evernotes to manage tasks. Here is a good blog post by another GTD follower on how he has adopted Evernote to GTD that I am using to make the transition.
  • Daily To-dos - While I am a big proponent of GTD, sometimes it’s just too damn complicated.  I balance that out by starting every day with a simple list of the three things I MUST get done that day no matter what else happens. I got this from Tim Ferris’s book The 4-Hour Work Week. I don’t schedule any meetings or check email in the morning so that I can get those three things done before I open the flood gates of meetings, incoming email or other demands on my time. I use a new Evernote each day to list those three things with check boxes next to each and I display that list on Evernote in my iPad so it doesn’t get buried under open browser windows and applications. This keeps me focused on those three things regardless of other distractions.

In conclusion, Evernote is a simple but powerful platform on which you can run a very large chunk of your company. I hope the examples above of how I run SalesCrunch on Evernote get your mind spinning on how you might do the same with your company to enjoy a little more stress-free productivity. Break a leg!

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