How Evernote Can Make You More Creative

Besides being a productivity tool for getting things done, Evernote is gloriously talented at boosting creativity. So how can something digital, with very basic formatting, and barely any creative input enhance creativity? I’m excited to show you.

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

This is what my Evernote looks like right now. It’s always evolving since I’m always evolving. I really like notebook stacks because I like hierarchy and I use that instead of tags to find the note I’m looking for.

Create a Swipe File

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

Austin Kleon spoke about swipe files in one of his books, and it’s been so useful when I’m lacking drive to make anything. The idea is that you put anything that catches your eye into a note to store for later. This isn’t Pinterest – this is stuff that makes you want to go make. It’s a to do list instead of a “one day” list. You can add text, photos, images off the web, or screenshots from your phone. What you’re seeing at the top of my swipe file is an image from @stitchandletter. I could crop the image, but I like knowing where it came from if I make something and share it, then I can spread the love and let Jen know about it.

Create Themed Swipe Files

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

The main way that I take control of my Evernote and prevent it from going crazy is to delete. Once I’m done with something I will delete it. This Watercolour Swipe File is something I’ll delete once I’ve tried out the images I’ve added to it. I’m currently on a watercolour/floral exploration and these images from Rebecca are incredibly beautiful.

Plan Projects

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

I mean, duh. Evernote was made for planning, and creative projects are no exception. There’s no reason not to outline a big project that you can’t simply dive into. This note is about the board game I’m making for my husband (two of his favourite things are Monopoly and Dota).

Quote Note

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

Sometimes when I’m art journaling, I just want to paint and not worry about words. Sometimes I don’t have anything to say. But sometimes there’s a beautiful spot that would look so perfect covered with words. That’s what my Quotes note is for. I type them out, I screenshot them, I just get them in there, so that I can one day get them out.

Reference

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

Save anything that you refer back to on a regular basis. This image is one I often searched for on Google, but since it wasn’t the first result, I saved it exactly where I know it is on my PC.

Current Focus

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

I have a Current notebook with things I’m currently working on, needing to process, or waiting for. This note has links to projects I’m currently focusing on. Evernote has a tutorial on how to create links, and it’s super easy.

Store Ideas in a Note

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

Almost every one of my notebooks has an Idea note. Sometimes these are a few lines long, and sometimes they just continue. This note is from my blog survey, where I’ve noted every post request.

Take Stock of Your Creations

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

When I was putting together my blog galleries, I took a mini inventory of some of my projects. This is a really nice reminder of how far I’ve come, and how much I’ve made. You know those days where you kind of wonder where all that painting and paper cutting went? That’s what these lists are for.

Digital Collection of Your Art

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

On the other side of the list is the visual representation. This is even better for seeing how far you’ve come. Snap a photo of each page that you’ve made and add it to a note. It’s time consuming to start, but once you get in the habit it’s really quick.

Creative Goals

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

Sorry for blurring that out but we’ve got to have some secrets between us, right? Since my business and my creativity are so intertwined, I add any creative endeavours as business goals.

Track a Creative Habit

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

No need to get fancy – just add a bunch of checkboxes and tick. You could also add small images for each day as your own proof.

Writing

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love writing with a keyboard. Words flow through my fingers quicker than through a pen. This is where my story started. In a note.

Evernote and Morning Pages

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

I don’t tend to save my morning pages, but any time that I feel like I’d like to explore the topics further, I type it from my notebook into Evernote. If I’m lazy, I’ll just take a photo of it and put that in a note, but I can barely read that handwriting.

Evernote and Brainstorming

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

I love saving my brainstorming notes. I almost always have three iterations of brainstorming, and then I’ll delete them until I get to my final thoughts. I really liked the survey responses from the Level Up one I did, so I’ve kept it.

Save Creative Classes

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

Oh, I love how you can drag and drop PDFs directly into Evernote. I’m not the type to save all my PDFs as notes, but I have a note that links to the Google Drive folder. I also have a note with any logins and passwords for forums, or classes. But I’m not going to show you that one.

Save Learning Notes

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

Going through non-fiction books with a pen and my cellphone camera has been a life changer. It made it completely deliberate, and I’ve elevated what I’ve learned instead of just passively taken in words. I love saving these for easy reference and, score, they’re totally searchable with Evernote.

Save Nice Notes

How Evernote Can Make You More Creative - 17 practical ideas for using Evernote to improve your art

Oh man, this is so lovely. If ever I’m feeling down, I go to my “♥” note and read nice things people have said to/about me. I really encourage you to do the same. If someone leaves a thoughtful comment on your blog, sends you a caring email, or shares how much they love the art you’ve shared on Instagram, screenshot it and add it to a note.


 

Phew! That is a lot of ideas. Do you use Evernote in a creative way? Do you use Evernote at all? What’s stopping you?

  • Have you ever checked If this then that (IFTT.com)? It’s basicly a service that connects different websites. So for example, whenever I like something on Instagram, that picture gets automatically added to a certain Evernote notebook, with certain tags added. How cool is that?

    • I HAVE! I love it. I currently use it if I want to link an Evernote note to a task in todoist (I just tag it). I also receive an email when someone hashtags my Etsy store on IG (it doesn’t happen too frequently), a Slack bot posts #yaylevelup into Slack, and top posts in /r/listentothis appear in a Spotify playlist.

      I find it super easy to get sucked into the automation, but I need to make sure it’s adding to productivity instead of making productivity more difficult. For e.g. if my Etsy store hashtag was popular, receiving an email every time would be overwhelming. Since it’s very occassional now that my store is in holiday mode, receiving an email is a good notification for me.

      I love that recipe for IG likes, but for me I like too many things! I’d rather screenshot hehe.

  • So say you take a picture of something handwritten, can Evernote search that? This might be the perfect way to marry my love of actual paper and pens and my desire to have something organised digitally (plus, like you, I love to type when I’m writing something meaningful!) Is there a way to organise sets of notes? Are there different notebooks in which you can then have your different notes stored?

    • YES absolutely it searches it. It can do even weird handwriting. There’s a short post on the EN blog.

      So, you have your notes that all go into a notebook. Each notebook can go into a notebook stack. Like an actual notebook and pages all sitting on a nice shelf. You can also organise with tags (I don’t). I like to use content pages for special notes, and you can use shortcuts too. You should totally try it out.

  • Can I just say how impressed I am with this post? Your mesh of creativity and productivity are AMAZING. I’m redoing my (stagnant) Evernote as we speak.

  • AHHH “if I share it I can spread the love and let Jen know” — Well you did! I freaked out while reading this because I was like, wait, THAT’S ME! And a screen shot of this is about to go in a new <3 evernote. :D

    I might have to level up and upgrade my evernote because I have so many photos and screenshots I want it to keep that I run out of room and then to avoid running out of room I cut back on using it so then I don't actually use it productively.

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