One Overlooked Feature That Will Take Your Evernote Collaboration To The Next Level

Evernote is a pretty amazing tool. Sometimes the biggest challenge can be figuring out exactly what you can do with it. I can still remember first reading about Evernote and thinking “I can’t see myself using it that much.” Then, discovering ideas like receipt scanning, web clipping, idea boards and more, I started to use it all the time.

How can I collaborate in Evernote?

Since Bojan and I started working together on Alpha Efficiency, Evernote has been the backbone of our collaboration. We’ve tried a few supplementary tools, and a few – like Dropbox and Numbers – have stuck, whilst others (Nozbe, Trello) have fallen by the wayside. But Evernote has always been there.

Shared notebooks is the obvious mechanism that we use most often, with Alpha Efficiency project divided into separate notebooks, which we then update with ideas, tasks for each other, article,drafts and research materials. The native Evernote notifications feature works well to give me the gist of what Bojan has been up to when I log in, but most often we use internal linking and shards to ping each other with messages when we’ve made an update we want the other to review.

Leave a Message After the Beep

The 6-hour time difference between us, plus hectic work and family schedules, makes it hard for Bojan and I to talk as much as we’d like. We message pretty regularly, and the notes in Evernote help, but there’s no match for a good conversation sometimes, especially when we’re ironing out the details of a big project or an issue of the magazine.

To close the gap, we’ve started to experiment with “Evernote voicemails” – more accurately, audio files in notes. Evernote allows you record a voice recording directly into a note, and it’s playable with a single click; thus I can add a more direct “stream of consciousness” message to a written note to try and explain myself better than I perhaps could in writing.

Where this is working really well for me is during my commute; I can record a message for Bojan whilst driving, making even better use of what could otherwise be “dead time”. Some of these messages are a monologue on a specific discussion thread (such as expanding an article idea), whilst at other times it’s more “here’s what I’ve done and what I need you to work on.”

The Private Podcast

Evernote voicemail screenshotPicking these messages up is a bit like having a “private podcast” and it’s amazing how much better the content can be in conveying a point effectively. On a couple of occasions already a point that I struggled to grasp from Bojan’s notes (which can be brief to the point of cryptic) became crystal clear the instant I heard him explain it in a message.

Memo to Self

A use that is perhaps more common already (but that I haven’t paid much attention to) is leaving audio notes for yourself. On the whole, I find writing things down to be more effective and more conducive to accessing those thoughts later, but in those cases where you can’t type (driving is the obvious, and I wonder if it’s the only, case) it can offer a useful alternative, particularly if you’re just brainstorming an idea.

Give it a Whirl

If you use Evernote, I recommend giving it a try. If you’re working on a shared notebook with someone, it could be a very powerful tool. For personal usage, it will give you more options for being productive on the go.

Try it today – leave a digital voicemail!