The Secret of Never Forgetting Anything Ever Again

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I am a list junkie.

I maintain separate lists of what I want to do this morning, tonight, this weekend, in the near future, and in the distant future – plus an extra list of everything that needs to get done before my currently gestating girl arrives in April or May.

I make lists of questions to ask my doctor at my next prenatal appointment, what to get at the grocery store, our nine go-to dinners and how much they cost per serving, gift ideas for birthdays and Christmas, cute maternity clothes I want to buy but can’t bring myself to splurge on, our frequent flyer numbers, and places I want to go.

And I keep running lists of ideas for work, ideas for this blog, and ideas for books I want to write one day when I grow up.

In total, I have 133 lists.

Where My Mind Lives

Those 133 lists are in Evernote.

You know that part in a romantic movie where the guy and the girl see each other for the first time, and you can almost see the electricity sparking between their bodies, and you just KNOW they’re going to end up together happily ever after, popping out babies as fast as humanly possible, or maybe even faster?

That’s how it was when I found Evernote. It’s like a second brain that remembers EVERYTHING. Before we met, I don’t know how I managed the pinball machine that is my brain.

Oh wait, I do. This is what life before Evernote looked like:

Scraps of paper infiltrated every nook and cranny of my life – in my purse, on the fridge, in every drawer of my nightstand, tucked inside books I’d started reading and forgotten about. Any piece of paper was fair game, from the backs of receipts to the instructions that come in a box of tampons.

What’s So Bad About That?

I was feeling a little scattered, so I decided to read Getting Things Done. And this is where I first discovered that my kingdom of paper scraps may not be serving well.

“The short-term memory part of your mind – the part that tends to hold all of the incomplete, undecided, and unorganized “stuff” – functions much like RAM on a personal computer. Your conscious mind, like the computer screen, is a focusing tool, not a storage place. You can think about only two or three things at once. But the incomplete items are still being stored in the short-term-memory space. And as with RAM, there’s limited capacity; there’s only so much “stuff” you can store in there and still have that part of your brain function at a high level. Most people walk around with their RAM bursting at the seams. They’re constantly distracted, their focus disturbed by their own internal mental overload…

This produces an all-pervasive stress factor whose source can’t be pinpointed.

Even if you’ve already decided on the next step you’ll take to resolve a problem, your mind can’t let go until and unless you write yourself a reminder in a place it knows you will, without fail, look.”

Those innocuous little scraps were stressing me out.

I’d written everything down, sure, but I had no faith I would ever find something again after I scribbled a note to myself.

I tried Remember the Milk for a while. But that’s a real to-do list. With deadlines and reminders and things that scream at you in BOLD if you don’t do them when you said you would. It stressed me out even more so I stopped logging in. Which means I wasn’t doing what was on the list AND I reverted back to scraps everywhere.

But Evernote just hangs out, ready for me when I want it – and not giving me puppy dog eyes when I’m not in the mood.

Puppy Dog Eyes Photo by Paul L

No deadlines, no reminders. Just a place for me to park what’s in my head until I decide when and where I want to act on it.

Why Evernote Won My Heart

Let’s take our grocery list for an example. The fiance and I both have Evernote on our phones and laptops. So if I remember we need cinnamon rolls from the grocery store, I add it to the grocery list note on my phone. Then when he stops by the grocery store on the way home, he pulls up the list on his phone, and the list is AUTOMATICALLY UPDATED to include cinnamon rolls. Drool.

And here’s where it gets even more cool points: you don’t have to type everything out. You can save photos you take with your phone, store clips from your web browsing, and attach any file to a note. Plus, everything is wicked fast to search. You can even scan in a piece of paper, and Evernote is smart enough to figure out what was on the piece of paper so it’s searchable along with everything else.

Go ahead, try it. On your Android or iPhone, for Windows or Mac OS, you can find all the flavors here.

But if you MUST use paper?

This wouldn’t be so bad:

Shit I Gotta Fucking Get Done Notebooks

Top 10 Best Ways to Use Evernote

Here are just a few of the useful things you can keep in Evernote:

  1. Important information about your kids that you can never find when you need it – immunization records, allergies, school phone lists
  2. Famous quotes you love
  3. All your millions of login IDs and passwords
  4. Cute stuff your kids say
  5. Where you parked
  6. A running tally of a co-worker’s transgressions
  7. Your bucket list – or a Before They Leave Me list
  8. Ideas for excuses to get out of work events or family get-togethers
  9. Your favorite recipes
  10. Every fight you have with your significant other so you can be accurate and thorough when it comes time to throw it back in their face

Want More?

For more posts like this one, follow my Pinterest board Let’s Be Good Enough.

Also, check out these tips on Evernote:

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Your Turn

How do you deal with all the to-dos swirling around in your head? Are you, too, in love with Evernote? Leave a comment below to share your secrets!