[This is a post from my worship leader's toolkit blog series. You can read the series intro and find links to the other posts here.]
One of the great mysteries when it comes to artists is that we tend to be fairly scatterbrained yet at the same time thrive within an orderly environment. Artists generally try to push against any kind of structure but the irony is that great art is often produced within constraints and boundaries. A classic example of this for worship leaders is when it comes to note taking, filing and sorting.
Stop me if you’ve heard or said anything like this in the last little while:
I wish I could remember that song idea!
You know that guy I was talking to? You know.. the guy! What was his name?
The other day I had this great idea for a couple of songs that would work really well for Easter/Christmas/baptism/etc.
These are all familiar to me because I’ve said them all – several times! After trying lots of different ways of tracking ideas – notes in my pocket, moleskine, iPhone audio notes, email, a combination of all of the above! – I finally relented and decided that I need to find one solution which could capture, store and file all kinds of notes for me and make it really easy to find the info when I need it.
It may be confusing to figure out at first but if your system of remembering is a combination of email, voice notes, Excel sheets, sticky tabs, writing on your hand and hope, you need Evernote! I won’t explain everything there is to know (you should read Evernote Essentials for that) but I think of Evernote as an online filing cabinet – there are several drawers depending on the context (home, work, family, etc) and each drawer has multiple folders (ie. inside the family “drawer” I have “folders” for gift ideas, home projects, vacation spots, etc).
Evernote calls these folders notebooks and notebooks can be arranged together in any kind of grouping you like. Notebooks can be tagged, indexed and searched for whatever information they contain. You can upload text, web pages, photos and images, audio recordings – if you can get it online, you can get it in Evernote!
So how do I use Evernote? Let me show you three quick ways that I love using Evernote which have helped me out huge.
No matter what web browser you are using, there is an extension or bookmarklet you can install which will allow you to “clip” content from a website and send it straight to your Evernote account. I love to use this if I find something online which might be helpful for a worship service or series that’s coming up. Here’s an example -
I might be checking out some ideas online and come across this website which features prayers for Easter. Because it’s early February, I’m not in final planning mode for Easter yet but I know that in a few weeks I’m going to be looking for some prayers for our Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday services.
Rather than bookmarking this site, I’m going to clip this site in my Evernote account using the little web clipper icon in the top right corner -
See what I did there? When I click Clip article the text from this page will be uploaded right to my Evernote account and because I’ve selected the Easter notebook (see it selected right under the title of the webpage – Easter prayers, contemporary and traditional) this info will end up there and when I’m ready to start looking through Easter ideas, I’ll find it!
2. Evernote iPhone App
The iPhone app for Evernote is a thing of beauty. From my phone, I can access and search all of my notes but the real value of the app is being able to add photos to my Evernote account right from my phone. If I see something in a store, at a church or while I’m walking outside and I want to add it to one of my notebooks, the iPhone app makes it crazy easy to snap a quick photo and upload it straight to Evernote.
One of the craziest features of Evernote is that it can search handwritten text. Stop. Read that again. Evernote can search handwritten text. We are living in the future.
Ever tried searching through pages and pages of handwritten notes from a workshop or conference? After taking notes, I get a good photo on my phone, upload to Evernote and I’ve immediately got a searchable record of notes from that session. Incredible!
It’s not just photos which can be added from the iPhone app. You can add text and audio recordings, too. Next time you open Evernote on your computer, those notes are linked up right where you left them!
3. Evernote by Twitter
My next post in this Worship Leader’s Toolkit series is about Twitter and how useful it can be for worship leaders and I love how Evernote is integrated with Twitter. How do you set it up? Follow the @myen account and when you want to add a note to your Evernote account simply send a direct message to @myen and include the content of your note.
My default notebook in Evernote is “ideas” and any tweet sent this way goes directly into that notebook. This is a great way for me to get quick, on the run ideas into Evernote for review later. I go over my ideas notebook every couple of weeks just to refresh my memory and see if there’s anything in that notebook to help as an inspiration with what I’m working on at that moment.
So there you go. Artists, you need some help in the brain area. Let Evernote be your help! It can seem very daunting (like an elephant!) in the beginning but start slowly and trust that it will be worth the effort. It will save your butt time and time again and the value of having all of your notes gathered in ONE place is invaluable.
If you are interested in really giving Evernote a shot, you should check out this ebook called Evernote Essentials. It was written by Brett Kelly and he did such a great job explaining Evernote to new users that he was actually hired by the company as an employee. If you do buy the ebook that that link, it is an affiliate so thank you for doing that. The cost to you is the same whether you go through my affiliate link or not but I hope you decide to give Evernote a try. I know it has saved me on many occasions!
How do you use Evernote? What are some of the things it helps you with? Leave a comment and share what you’ve learned!