Look back on 2012 and what do you remember? Probably the biggest, and most recent events. Sure, you remember the details of your meetings last week...and the major accomplishments in your third quarter report...and hey, wasn't that a great restaurant you went to during your August vacation. But what was the name of that restaurant? And what was that book you read while you were on vacation — the one that had inspired you with a new idea for work, if only you could remember it? What happened to that draft memo you started before you went on vacation? And what on earth did you do with the entire month of February?
2012 can be the last year you forget if you make 2013 the year you commit to using a digital notebook like Evernote. Evernote, and others like it, makes it easy for you to capture every conversation, idea, note, draft, business card, white board, and scrap of paper so that you can stop wracking your brain and start searching for, and finding, the information you need, when you need it. Better still, Evernote can help you stay focused on your top priorities by keeping your work organized, and make your work more influential by helping you share it with the colleagues who need it, too. My short ebook, Work Smarter with Evernote, which Harvard Business Review Press released today, can show you how.
What would it mean to work smarter with Evernote in 2013? Here's a month-by-month game plan that just scratches the surface of how such a tool can help you:
January: Focus on your top goals for the year by setting up an Evernote notebook for each of your major projects or areas of responsibility. Move them to the top of your Evernote sidebar where you will see and think about them every day.
February: Create a notebook that gathers up any news clippings or blog posts that reflect your company's recent achievements, along with performance reviews and email kudos. It's your happy space!
March: If you're still having trouble letting go of that paper notebook, don't give up on the benefits of having everything searchable and in one place. Use your smartphone to snap photos of your handwritten notes, and add those photos to Evernote. Evernote's optical character recognition will make them searchable.
April: File your taxes in record time by saving all your online receipts to a single Evernote notebook. You'll find that notebook useful when it's time to file expense claims, too.
May: Going to a big conference or trade show? Save a PDF of the conference program to Evernote so you'll have it handy, or use the Evernote web clipper (install it in your web browser) to clip descriptions of the sessions you'd like to attend. Snap photos of the business cards you collect and store them in a notebook, take notes during conference sessions on your tablet. Tag it all with the name of the conference for easy reference.
June: Mid-year review time. Write a quick recap of your top achievements this quarter by scanning through your notebooks and tagging "deliverables" or "highlights" and then having them ready to go with your manager.
July: Make the most of the summer slow-down by queuing up some blog posts or finally drafting that white paper. If you've set up an Evernote notebook called "ideas," you'll have lots of inspiration stored up to get you started.
August: Recharge with a vacation that makes the most of every minute. Compile a personal guide book for your travel destination by clipping restaurant reviews, suggested itineraries, maps and other resources to a vacation notebook. On your smartphone or tablet, set it to be an offline notebook so it's accessible even when you have no signal.
September: Once the school year starts, you're back to the joys of juggling work with family logistics. Create an Evernote notebook named for each of your kids, and use it to store school announcements, report cards and notes on meetings with teachers or doctors. You can get birthday party invitations or school messages directly to Evernote by forwarding them to your unique Evernote email address.
October: Starting a new project? Set up a new notebook with the name of your client and use it to save all your meeting notes, client and team contact info, document outlines and web clippings of relevant background info. Share the notebook with the rest of the project team so you can collaborate on your research process and share your work in progress.
November: Give thanks to your direct reports with a personal email highlighting each of their major achievements. It's easy to get specific when you have a notebook for each person on your team, which you use to file notes on your conversations, summaries of their performance reviews, and copies of their major deliverables.
December: You're ready when the word goes out that there's some leftover budget. Your Evernote wishlist notebook is full of project ideas in need of funding, and your potential hires notebook has clippings from the LinkedIn profiles of everyone you'd make a FTE if only you had the money to grab them.
How do you want to use Evernote to work smarter in 2013? Let us know in the comment thread below, or by tweeting your ideas with the hashtag #WSWE. We'll share our favorites in a future blog post.
By ALEXANDRA SAMUEL