I consider myself fairly organized. I juggle three kids, a freelance writing career, activities, exercise, a house and a social life. I cook most meals, clean my own house and make it out of the house in the morning with matching shoes (well, usually flip-flops). But this is what my work area looks like most days.
Part of the problem (aka my current excuse) is that I don’t have an actual desk. I work at the lower part of our kitchen bar which also doubles as paper-drop central during the week and the martini/hors d’oeuvre station when we entertain (hence the bottle of wine). The other issue is the variety of types of stuff I need access to – school calendars, weekly homework folders, information on current activities the kids are in, field trip forms to fill out, shopping lists, recipes I’ve torn out from magazines, flyers on upcoming outings, notes on clients, information on products I’m reviewing, brainstorms for upcoming magazine pitches, bills to be paid…you get the picture. Maybe your desk is the same?
I’ve really tried to manage this area. I’ve tried hanging folder file box I kept in the footwell. I’ve tried a 3-tiered stacking shelf. I’ve tried magazine boxes with folders for the various areas of my life. But none of these has worked well mainly because I have a hard time putting things away when I frequently need to access so many of them. For me, life as a work-at-home mom means I’m fitting in work, reading, research and general house management in-between drop-offs, pick-ups, errands and nap times. Though I’ve read the studies on multitasking, for me, it’s a necessity. Hence the zillion pieces of paper out at once.
Then I met Evernote. Their tagline – Remember everything.
It’s simple, convenient and free. Capture. Save. Sync. Search.
Evernote is both a website and a mobile and desktop app that allow you to capture things you want to remember whether it’s a list of the top-rated sunscreens your sister emailed to you, a great review you saw on Mommies With Style that you want to remember for your son’s next birthday present, an audio note you leave to yourself about the perfect theme for your next Girls’ Night Out or a picture you snap on the sly of the amazing handbag the girl next to you at the coffee shop has.
You can save everything you want to remember in individual notes, tag notes with keywords or group them into notebooks.
Evernote syncs your notes so whether you’re on the phone app or at your home computer or online at a friend’s house, you can access your information.
Need to recall some tidbit you know you saved? Search Evernote by text (even text within PDFs or hand-written notes) or by tag to instantly bring up that recipe, that book recommendation, that article you meant to read when you had time.
So how is Evernote helping me get organized and manage the paper clutter?
1) Recipes. It’s taking my 4″ pile of magazine pull-out recipe hell and turning it into something I can actually use. This is a work in progress, but I’m moving from a paper recipe binder to putting it entirely online. This means when I have excess basil, I can search Evernote for recipes with basil or when I want to make that one avocado-mushroom salad from my friend D’s grandma, I can find it in seconds.
2) Consolidation. From random gift ideas to movies I want to watch with my husband, my portfolio of work clips to a list of my favorite wines, everything is in Evernote. If I forget something or need to find some piece of info – whether I’m at home or out at the store – I don’t have to scavenge through the papers on my desk. I search Evernote and – voila! – information found.
3) Kids. From class lists to upcoming fundraiser flyers, holiday gift ideas to the best read-aloud books for boys, Evernote lets me keep everything about my kids all in one place. And the nice thing is – it doesn’t really have to be organized to re-find it. If I tag it with “kids” or search for a relevant word I know it contains, I’m sure to find it. No color-coded files. No labeled binders.
4) Work. From notes on an upcoming project and a list of pitch ideas to a blog posts with information I want to be able to reference and a running work to-do list, Evernote has helped cut back on paper clutter both on my physical desk as well as my Inbox and browser bookmarks.
Ready to cut your clutter? Ready to eliminate the endless stacks of paper? Visit www.evernote.com to set up your free account today. And check back tomorrow when I tell you how to eliminate even more paper using Evernote with the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner.
How do you manage the paper clutter of motherhood?