Sorry for posting this again, but I posted it to the wrong forum the first time.
For a long time I have resisted using Evernote. I’ve tried it off and on since 2010, but always resisted fully committing to it. My biggest worry is that I would be putting all of this valuable information into a system that could either a) disappear or be trapped if I decide to change my mind and stop using it. I thought it would be better to use plain text files that are synced between my computers and mobile devices. This is what I’ve been doing for years now and it works to some extent, but it also has serious limitations. The biggest problem I’ve found is that I’ve accumulated thousands of files and organizing them is very difficult. On a basic level I want to keep my personal and work files separate, so I have a Dropbox folder for personal and work files. I also have subfolders in each of them, for example a meeting notes folder, a calls folder etc. A big issue I have is that more than half the time I’m using a mobile device to write the files, either my iPad or iPhone. My main tool has been Notesy which uses Dropbox to sync. The biggest downside is that once you commit to having a file in one folder, you cannot move the file within Notesy. You have to go into the Dropbox app and move the file to the folder in which it belongs. This is very tedious and clunky and I often don’t bother and I have files in the wrong place in my Dropbox folder. Another problem with this system is that even though Dropbox can handle any kind of file, on the iOS devices you have to go to different apps to view the different file types. Each app wants it’s files to be in a folder of it’s own. So there is a Notesy folder for all my plain text notes, a Soulver folder for Soulver docs, etc. So my files are all in Dropbox, but fragmented and not well organized.
About a month ago I got fed up with this state of affairs and finally decided to give Evernote a try, but this time commit to using it to it’s full extent to see if it can replace the fragmented system I’ve described above. One of the things that made it easier for me to try it out is that Evernote supports exporting of everything to a non-proprietary format, HTML. Any attached pdfs or photos are also exported along with the HTML. Now I feel confident that if I want to move away from Evernote, my data isn’t trapped. Now with that out of the way, I’m glad to discover that Evernote is a much better system than what I describe above. I can start taking notes and then organize them later. My workflow now is to open Evernote, hit the plus button and I'm ready to start taking notes. After the meeting is over, I give a name to the note and add some tags and move it to the correct notebook. The combination of Notebooks and tags is a much better and more flexible system than the files and folders of plain text files in dropbox. Especially with the very powerful search syntax built into Evernote, I feel more organized than I have ever been.
There are so many great features that go beyond the simple plain text system I've been using for years, I regret not making this move sooner. You can take pictures of business cards and Evernote will parse out the phone numbers and email addresses. It also preserves a picture of the original card, so now I just snap a picture and throw away the card. You can take a picture of any document and it will make the text in the document searchable! PDF files also are searchable. It also has annotation tools so you can highlight and mark up the document. So now I can have all of the various files I need on a project in one searchable system from any device, iPhone, iPad, Mac or any computer with a web browser.
On the Mac there is a web clipping service, so any research I do online can be clipped and saved along with the rest of the project materials. Even if the website goes away, the page is preserved forever in your evernote account. I've started clipping articles I like and adding a few notes about what I think about the article. In my old system if I wanted to do this, I'd have to save a web archive file and create a separate text file for my comments. It was a pain to do so I rarely did it. Now it is easy and my comments and the original article stay together in a single note.