2011 NOV 13 Evernote Finally Makes Sense

I don’t know if there was something about Evernote that just turned me off in the times I’ve used it before, but just this weekend, I had an epiphany that made me realize that the personal knowledgebase I was developing was a perfect fit for Evernote. But I never would have realized it until I went through the previous iterations.

I really have tried most things: text files, Mac software (DevonThink Pro, Circus Ponies Notebook, Curio), folders of files, and nothing seemed to really stick. Finally I went for a really simplistic implementation: paper. I have always really liked the book How to Make a Complete Map of Every Thought you Think, and the author advocates using paper for everything. I figured what the heck; it’s worked for thousands of years up to this point, there must be something to it.

So I started writing down 1-2 line references to things I wanted to remember: my own thoughts, websites I wanted to archive, articles to keep track of, etc. The thought was that the paper system would be where I would keep the active stuff: stuff that I would want to have with me all the time. I would need a system for archived material. I played around with that for a while, and then finally decided that Evernote would be the system that would deal with the archived material.

I started doing that for a day, and then it hit me: my paper system was fully redundant. The 1-2 line references I was writing down in my paper notebook were the titles of the notes in Evernote. Bookmarks simply had the URL in the body (a side effect of the Evernote clipper), articles had the content in the body, and my own random notes simply have a title with no body. It could even handle my longer freewrites with ease. With this realization I actually discovered that I could have one system to rule them all (well, at least for my knowledgebase).

This whole epiphany seems like an obvious common-sense sort of thing, but something in my psyche always had an abhorrence for attaching a title to my notes. I have an aversion to too much structure, in this case to a fault! This ultimately simple solution has completely broken my block on capturing useful content, and I think I actually have a chance to create a knowledgebase that I will actually use.

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