As a creative business owner, I’m guessing you have a million ideas shooting through your brain at all hours of the day. Don’t worry, you’re not alone :) I can't seem to get my brain to shut off either, and I recently found myself feeling scatterbrained and unable to move forward with business ideas or decisions because there was so. much. stuff up there. Google Drive was overflowing with random, unorganized notes and lists, and my desk was overrun with scraps of paper and post-its. Enter Evernote. Evernote has been a life-saver in keeping all my running lists and ideas in one easy-to-use and nice-to-look-at place. This post is in no way affiliated with Evernote, I just wanted to share a peek into my process of using. I’ve found entrepreneurs love seeing how other entrepreneurs organize their businesses, so here’s a look at one of my all-time favorite tools.
If you’re in the market for a better system for all your brilliant ideas, Evernote is your new best friend. It’s free for the basic version (which has worked perfectly fine for me for nearly 6 months), plus there’s a mobile app so you can see your notes and add to them on the go. I use Evernote for everything from blog writing to canned response emails to meeting notes with clients. It’s structured to maximize organization and is super practical for a small business owner with a lot of ideas. Let’s dive into how my Evernote is set up so you can see the organizational goodness in action.
My notebooks + how I organize notes / content
Evernote is organized into notebooks. Within notebooks, you can have individual notes, which are basically just blank windows for you to fill up with ideas, lists, images, outlines, any notes you can think of. For myself, I have 8 different notebooks that I use to categorize all my different notes. Listed below are each of these notebooks and what types of notes I include in each one. I also included some screenshots so you can see the interface + organization of the app once you’re inside. Sorry some things are blurred out – I can’t give away all my secrets, right?! ;)
I use this notebook to keep canned responses for frequent emails I get. I have a separate note for each canned response, so I can just copy / paste the text into my email browser or in an Etsy convo when needed. Keeping these all together makes it quick and easy to find when I see one of these frequent emails come through my inbox.
I use this notebook to house all my notes for current or ongoing design clients. I record notes from our initial consultations, notes from the design process, notes from meetings or calls I’ve had with a client. I usually give each client their own note and keep everything together in that one note so it’s always easy to find and refer back to. If you have a lot of notes for each of your clients, you may consider giving each one their own notebook, but for me, the over-arching Freelance notebook works just fine.
This notebook is where I jot down any random notes I have about my blog. I have lists of post ideas for each of my blog categories, lists of ideas for free downloads or bonus content. I also recorded a lot of notes in this notebook when I first started my blog – things like name ideas, branding notes, promotional plan, and a standard bio to use for guest posts.
Blog Posts—In Process and Blog Posts—Ready
These notebooks are pretty self-explanatory :) I have one notebook where I keep all blog posts that are in the process of being written. Some of them may be partially written, some may have outlines, some may be literally just a title. Once a post is finished and ready to be put online, I move it to the Blog Posts—Ready notebook. To move a note from one notebook to another, click the name of the notebook that appears in the top left corner of the window you’re writing your note in. This drops down a list of all your available notebooks (or to create a new one). You select the one you want, and click Move.
E-course Notes and E-course Content
I have a couple separate notebooks for my new e-course The InDesign Field Guide since it’s a huge project I’m working on frequently and it requires A LOT of notes :) I have one notebook for all my course content — and it’s a beast! I have a separate note for every video that needs to be recorded or PDF that needs to be designed — nearly 60 notes total. I also have a separate catch-all notebook for other details that relate to creating my course, such as notes on pricing, research, sales pages, promotions, and email marketing strategies.
This was my very first notebook I ever created — a general business notebook with tons of notes for any kind of internal business-y stuff. Notes on things like accounting, bookkeeping, yearly goals, business bucket list, batch lists, product / service ideas, sponsorships, etc. Basically anything that doesn’t fit in any other category gets dumped in here :)
To wrap up, entrepreneurs are always swapping their favorite tools and resources to organize their businesses. Evernote is a popular one that can house all your note-taking needs from your daily task list up to your big dreams list. If you also have a desk buried in notebooks, post-its, index cards, and back-of-napkin lists, I definitely recommend giving Evernote a try. It’s free, it syncs across all your devices, and it’s robust enough for even the most complex of note-webs. If you’re intimidated by an entire program just for jotting down ideas, don’t be afraid! Just use the parts of Evernote that are helpful to you for now, and learn more detail as you go – there are lots of other features like adding tags, photos, reminders, etc. This is true of any type of online tool or app for keeping yourself organized. Overwhelm can be a turn-off for a lot of these programs, but starting small and learning as you go is the best way to get the most use out of them.
What are your favorite note-taking / organizing tools? If you use Evernote, what’s your favorite feature? Do you still have a pile of post-its next to your laptop? Me too. But it's significantly smaller :)