I have been using Evernote since 2008, and it is safe to say that I have a lot of information in there. Travel information, blog posts, kids activities, project notes, call notes, instruction manuals, reference materials, fitness logs – I have a thousands of notes going back seven years.
Because of my heavy Evernote usage, I was very interested to read this post by Bob Stanke: How Declaring Evernote Bankruptcy Improved My Productivity.
Hey, I want to be more productive. Tell me more!
I had determined a couple of different routes to take. I could do a clean-up as I go, deleting notes I no longer needed and delete them as I encounter them, or… DUMP THEM ALL. And by “all”, I mean ALL my notes.
I decided to declare Evernote bankruptcy.
Now for most people this would be a scary thought, considering how much very important information Evernote holds for us, and it was for me as well. At the same time, I knew which notes were of the most importance to me since I had either starred them or they surfaced to the top of the most recently updated sort filter. So I knew that if I protected those notes, perhaps a clean start would have some benefits.
So after moving the most important notes to a separate notebook (which was about 350 notes total), I deleted over 4,000 notes from my account. Then I emptied the trash. Done.
Interesting approach. I have to admit, I have done the bankruptcy thing with email, but that was archiving it all not deleting.
I am always surprised when an old piece of information becomes useful and becomes connected to something else I am working on. I take the approach of “I’ll never know what I need until I need it”.
I wonder if the need for a strategy like Evernote bankruptcy stems from how you retrieve your data. If you look through notebooks and tags for the note you are searching for, I can see how weeding out old stuff would be helpful.
I personally am a searcher. 99% of the time, I am searching for the data that I need, and the good thing about search is the more you use it, the better you get at zooming right in to the information you are looking for.
Evernote Time Machine
If you have been using Evernote for a number of years, here is a fun game. I can’t take credit for it – at the first Evernote Trunk Conference, Brett Kelly (of Evernote Essentials fame) gave a great talk about how he uses Evernote, and one of his uses is to look back at a certain period of time.
I like to look back a few years ago and see what I was thinking, doing, and working on at this time. You can do this with an Evernote search like this:
I even have a TextExpander snippet called ;en3y defined like this:
Whenever I feel like it, I enter that snippet and it will take me back to my notes 3 years ago from today. This is what I get for this week in 2012:
If you try this on a regular basis, you’ll be surprised at how much has changed and (possibly disturbingly) how much has not. It’s like journalling without the journal.
All this is to say, declaring Evernote bankruptcy might work for you, but it is not for me. I really do use Evernote as my external brain, and I take its motto “Remember Everything” literally.
How about you – do you see an Evernote nuke and pave in your future?
(Photo by Don Harder)
Evernote virtually declared bankruptcy for me! Not once, but twice, upgrades deleted some of my data. This is devastating because you’ve no way of knowing precisely what has been deleted (it was random, not within a date range or anything). I noticed immediately both times because of what I was working on and the way I was working. The CEO of Evernote, when I tracked him down on Facebook (despite being a Premium Evernote user no one was getting back to me re the data loss), basically said “It happens sometimes” – and that was it. If you can’t trust something completely, you can’t trust it.
So I had to migrate what was left of my precious database of some years to another program and, in doing this, I did sift it. It was interesting and, finally, probably worthwhile as I found things I’d forgotten about (and yes, it was nostalgic and thought-provoking to look back historically) but, hell – what a nightmare!
I’m off the cloud with my database (and very glad about that since the Edward Snowden thing) and will never go back. The database I finally chose (AllMyNotes) is easily portable and far, far lighter than Evernote so, even with all the attachments, it can fit on a USB and on my netbook, which makes backing up simple and means I can access my database everywhere, even if the Internet isn’t available (I’m in the middle of the countryside).
Re the searching on Evernote: I did save standard searches but mainly I used a text expander (I use Breevy currently) to search which made the process much faster.
Talking about speed, AllMyNotes is faster at searching than Evernote, so that’s another benefit!