The Return of Evernote and why I ended the break

For past quite the couple of months I’ve took an Evernote break. I wasn’t using it as actively as I used to do. And I’ve had quite the couple of reasons why I did that. During the break I even forgot how Evernote can be useful, but fortunately that break is over. Over the course of this break I’ve been “dumping” all sorts of information into Evernote, but I wasn’t accessing it, almost at all. And it’s about time to change that, as the new UI came around and broke some old stuff we’ve been doing, and brought something new. Find out what’s going on….

Evernote 5 redesigned

New design of Evernote 5

So why I made the break?

  1. There was no quality app for iOS. The previous version kept crashing and crashing, up to the level of the app being completely unusable. I would get lucky if I would get past the search, while I was looking for something critical. Often it would be long and slow search. I was wondering is it related to my iPhone being too old, but even my newer iPad couldn’t handle it.
  2. The fact that the iOS version was unreliable, made the whole Evernote system unreliable, and this sent me further away into Omnifocus and even moved me away from using Evernote as a writing platform. In return I went away to Dropbox .txt file syncing and various apps that supported it.
  3. All of this made me lose faith in Evernote, I was on the verge of pulling the plug, just before the version 5 for iOS and Mac came out, but I clung to it, because of OCR and the number of information that I’ve previously stored in it (lock-in factor). Had it not been for the fact that it was still usable on the desktop, I would completely make a final move, but the “salvation” came in the last moment.

If I was so unhappy what did I come back than?

With the new version, comes a new hope, and an expectation that things are going to be better than they used to be. It turns out that after I gave Evernote a spin, and than the flashback hit me. After I had access to my 6000+ notes reliably on my phone, I just remembered how valuable the service was to me.

The app wasn’t significantly better, it actually got watered down with some functions, but it was stable. And most of the times stability is the critical factor that makes or breaks the application. Especially the productivity application.

I wanted to give a go to some apps like Springpad (I am still going to try it out, and give a review on it), and figure out wether they could be useful for the Alpha Efficient readers. But the new pretty design and reliability completely shifted my focus to Evernote. Turned me away that much, that I have a couple of more articles coming up on this topic.

IFTTT support

Evernote is amazingly strong platform, because it has strong, robust and reliable API. IFTTT was feeding my Evernote with my every move on various different social media networks, it was backing up my blog posts and all of my social media shared photos were backed up to Evernote via IFTTT.

This made my database durable, and in my heart pretty valuable. Everything was at the fingertips easily searchable and consumable, if I needed it at any point.

Stability and the design of iOS

The third reason would be the iOS app. Even though some functionality was watered down, I simply loved the design. Never had they made it look this pretty and good, to the point where I love using it, and I frequently come back to it. Even the Mac app can be turned in minimalistas heaven, with a help of a little keyboard shortcut trickery.

And the final reason why I came back, was the fact that there was really no alternative for the things that Evernote does. It’s simply the best everything bucket that you will find on the web. How do I know this? Well guys, I was looking for a replacement for months and I simply I couldn’t find one…

Some might argue that I should have went the Google Drive route, but I have this love / hate unhealthy relationship with Google, and I am trying to break up, but it keeps jumping back into my arms with all the goodies it offers.

I’ve restarted some old, and started some new concepts

The old one is wikipedia management. Over time my old wiki became unreliable, and outdated, so I spent some time tinkering with the structure of my “knowledge database”. It is still in the process of rebuilding, but it’s already super useful. And this lead to the other thing…

New concept

The new habit that I’ve started with Evernote, was the interlinking between the Contacts app and wiki database, which made everything super easy and neat way of organizing pretty much every aspect that you want from Evernote. This way you can create shortcuts that you can directly access through the Spotlight on iOS. This makes it insanely easy and accessible way to access all of your notes, at the lightning speed, simply by using the functionality that you already have integrated into your phone / tablet.

If you are serious about your productivity, you are going to tune in for this article. I recommend that you subscribe to my RSS, and just wait for it. It’s very well worth it, especially if you are seasoned Evernote user.

Mike Vardy experiment

A good fellow blogger Mikey attempted to go “all-in” on the platform, so you might be curious with his results. While I didn’t wanna go this deep (as you all know how much of a passion I’ve developed for Omnifocus lately), I certainly am using it the most so far. The results are quite interesting, and I can only confirm that I agree with them.

Final thoughts

While my favorite note taking application on Mac lost some functionality, it was improved on two very important major fronts: design and stability. These factors transformed my computer usage literally in a day when I started using it again.

And I didn’t even realize how badly I missed it. Some time invested in tinkering with outdated tags, notebooks and notes is paying off dividends on day one. It helps me keep the sanity. And actually remember everything.

Comments

  1. Andrew Clews says

    Interesting article Bojan.

    When I went back deep into Evernote use I too had to tidy my notebooks and tags – well I just deleted the tags and started again.

    I don’t use it for Task Management either, as I struggled with the need to open another app to set those, although I believe there are options I just didn’t realise.

    I am with you though, I find it insanely useful. Each day I find another way it can help me.

    I’ll be interested in watching how your use further develops!

    • says

      Hey Andrew, thanks for dropping by. Your comment gave an inspiration just in the right moment, giving me the energy and dedication to finish this article today.

    • says

      @Andrew – great point. “I just deleted the tags and started again.” Sometimes a “refresh” of our tags helps us see the trees through the forest. I’m sure you can guess, I’ve been there a couple of times!

      • says

        I couldn’t do that. I didn’t have heart to delete all 100 something tags I’ve created over time. I used stacked tags, and moved them all in one “sort this out” and I do it occasionally, tag by tag… 😀

        I try to delete as much of the tags as possible, and retag the items with appropriate ones. Hope this makes sense.

      • says

        Yes, Daniel, I have got that far in your excellent book. It just wasn’t worth the effort on my part to continue. Due to the excellent search ability I haven’t found a great need to tag anyway. I’m generally just doing it on a project title basis.

  2. says

    I’ve recently ended my plain text experiment and moved back to Evernote as primary capture, reference and notetaking tool.
    What I learned was that the more I used a specific tool the more important it became. Having one app that covers a lot of bases it’s makes easy to find specific information as well as the related information. As result almost every note, screen grab, PDF, etc ends up in Evernote.
    Having said that Evernote is not good writing tool (for me) I don’t like the editor and the rich text can be confusing at times. Writing is served best by WriteMonkey and Scrivener.
    In short data gathering and organisation happens in Evernote, synthesizing in WriteMonkey or Scrivener.

    I actually wrote a post about my move/return to Evernote today.

    • says

      That is exactly why I use nvALT / Dropbox for my writing. Scrivener I exclusively use for book writing, as it has far to many options for my article writing. I just snap up Byword, and that’s the only option I can do – write.

    • says

      @Rafal – great to see you’ve moved back over! I tried the whole txt movement and it just didn’t work for me. I think Gina Trapini is a genius, but the todo.txt and have everything as a txt file just didn’t move. Also, using SimpleNoteApp didn’t work either because of the needs I have to have actual files. I will say that on the Mac, the Evernote writing screen is better. I can definitely share more on Springpad … but I won’t let the evangelist in me for both products get out of control!

      For me, my writing mostly starts in Byword or in Workflowy. I use Scrivener for my books, but hadn’t thought about it for short form posts. Might need to give that one a try!

      • says

        Didn’t have the idea you were using Workflowy! I gave them such a bad review previously on Alpha Efficiency, so in fact one developer read it, and made a rewrite of it, for mobile. It’s called Cotton Notes and it’s absolutely awesome, desktop version coming out soon as well.

        You use Byword and you didn’t knew what Markdown is? 🙂 Oh my, you will love it! Press CTRL+CMD+P and you will get markdown preview in Byword, that’s what it is ultimately good for. Do yourself a favor, and manage your text notes with nvALT. It’s super helpful!