How I Keep Track of Printed Articles [EverNote Usage]

For nearly 10 years now I’ve been gone through many different systems of organizing and keeping track of the printed material I read (that is magazine articles, photocopies, pamphlets etc.).  I used to just keep the magazines I read in boxes, but then my stash got too big and it would take me forever to find something I remembered reading.  However, this is the system I used for nearly 5 years.

Next, I started keeping only articles I thought were worth keeping and keeping a database/spreadsheet of the articles on my old Palm IIIe.  It was a system that worked quite good for about two years.  I would file the articles in a binder alphabetically and by number (using stick on tabs) and then in the database I’d include keywords and short blurbs from the articles with the article information.  To find articles around a subject I just had to do a search and then I could locate the article in my “article binder”.

Then disaster struck when my Palm PDA died and the backups I had made were all corrupt.  So… I lost my index and the value of my article file plunged.  By then I had discovered WordPress and thought I’d try to keep a private repository of articles online.  Here’s where things got really ridiculous time-wise because I decided that I’d type in (yes, manually type) the articles that I thought were worth keeping.  Needless to say, the backlog of articles I had to enter piled up fairly quickly.  This was mitigated a little bit when I discovered that in many cases I could find the articles online and just copy and paste but there were still a lot of steps involved.  The advantage of this route, of course, is that finding information greatly improved.  This disadvantage was the incredible time investment involved in keeping up with my reading.

Let me just take an aside for a moment.  Why was/am I doing all this?  The main reason is I wanted a way to find and access things I’m reading when I remember them and also be able to properly attribute what I remember.  There have been many times over the years I’ve been in ministry where I’ve been doing some leadership teaching, or preparing a message, or writing an article and I remember something I read in a magazine that would apply and I’ve been able to locate that and use it.  Sure, as the years went by, the internet became a VERY valuable resource for illustrations, quotes, and ideas but to this day, nothing beats  a cultivated, filtered stash of personally reviewed material.

About a year ago I discovered Evernote and all I can say is it is a gift from heaven.  Evernote, has made keeping track of the articles I read (especially print articles) SOOO easy and way less time consuming than any of the other systems I’ve used in the past.  Here’s the new steps for filing articles:

  1. Mark articles/quotes I want to keep in things I read using post-it tabs
  2. Scan and email articles to my custom Evernote email address (I get my Admin Assistant to do that now but even when I did it, it didn’t take long).  I’m fortunate that I can email right from the photocopier at work.  If I didn’t have that ability I would just scan into a folder that you can setup Evernote to automatically read from whenever something is saved to it.
  3. That’s It!

Evernote Logo

Here’s why it works so well.  Evernote is a note capturing utility that you can use to keep track of material from all kinds of resources.  You can manually type notes in, drop files into it, add pictures, drop in screenshots, clip whole websites etc.  One of the cool ways of getting stuff into Evernote is via a custom email address linked to your Evernote account.  Anything you send to that email address gets added to a note.  Now, you can title and tag each note but it’s not even necessary because here’s where the power of Evernote kicks in – text recognition in images.  Yes, that’s right!  When you add pictures/images to your Evernote database all the text is recognized and indexed.  When you do a search for a term or phrase, all the images/text matching the search criteria will be returned!  My only criticism?  I WISH Evernote was around years ago!  Oh, and one more thing – everything you add to your Evernote account can be accessed either on your local machine or via the internet because all your notes are synced to the “cloud”.  So now, even if I don’t have my own computer I can look up the articles I’ve saved AND I can also rest easy knowing there is a built-in backup of all my notes.

{disclaimer: I was NOT paid anything to write about Evernote.  Yes, they are that good.}

    1. Well, it depends on what you mean by "folder import". What happens is you can set Evernote to monitor a folder on your system and whatever you save in that folder will automatically get posted as a note. Among the options is to have Evernote delete the item after it's imported as a note so when the folder is empty you know it got transferred okay.

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