In this interview we discuss how to create an “external brain” that lets you keep track of your tasks, projects, ideas and inspirations - while freeing your conscious mind for the most productive and focused thinking - we explore how you can connect the external world of meetings and events with your internal world of ideas and thoughts in a uniquely powerful way, and we demonstrate how you can save up to 144 hours a year using a few simple techniques with our guest Charles Byrd.
Charles Byrd is a productivity and organizational expert and the founder of Byrd Word. He’s known as the world’s foremost Evernote guru. As a productivity expert, Charles coaches CEOs and entrepreneurs how to "Kill the Chaos" of information overload.
Evernote is a “trusted system” you can apply to your life, profession, business etc.
Creating an “external brain” to keep track of your tasks, projects, ideas, inspiration
The powerful merger of collecting things from your internal worlds and external world and connecting them
Your “5 second superpower” - find whatever you want or need in 5 seconds or less
Do you use Evernote for one “specific thing” instead of everything?
How you can find key information you need in high pressure and difficult situations
How you can cut down on task switching
How you can be more focused and creative by taking processing load out of your conscious mind
How to tag things in Evernote for instant and easy recall
Who, What, Where Why
How to hack Siri shortcuts to amp the power of Evernote to the next level
The “Power Trifecta” - a combination of tools, work flows, and habits to create the most optimized routines possible
Simple tactics you can use to start adding things to Evernote right away
“Do I need it, do I dig it?"
How to begin with Evernote if you’ve always wanted to, but aren’t sure where to start
How you can save 3 hours a week using Evernote - that’s 144 hours a year - 18 working days of reclaimed time
Create a Siri shortcut for master list and marketing idea notes
How you can feel like a rock star who can do anything
How to hack meetings to be more productive
Click the “Task” Checkbox on any action items you have within a meeting or conversation
Write a 1-2 sentence summary of the meeting and any key action items
Evernote is the “cornerstone” of productive sanity
Evernote is the foundation of being productive in the modern day
Thank you so much for listening!
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Want To Dig In More?! - Here’s The Show Notes, Links, & Research
[Article] Project Management Hacks “How Charles Byrd Gets It Done: Project Management & Networking Tips” by editor
[Course] Zero to 60 w/ Evernote
[Podcast] Mitch Russo - How To Apply Evernote In Business And Life with Charles Byrd
[Podcast] Productivity Masterminds - Ep 16: Charles Byrd - Understanding and Using the Power Trifecta
[Podcast] Tathra Street - TP 24: Charles Byrd Evernote Guru
[Podcast] Productivity Academy - Episode 9 – Diving Deeper – Evernote And Focus With Charles Byrd
[Podcast] The Productivityist Podcast: Demystifying Evernote with Charles Byrd
[Podcast] Build Your Network - 045: NETWORKING WITH OPEN EARS AND ADDING VALUE WITH CHARLES BYRD
Charles’s Youtube Channel
Charles’s Byrd Word Vimeo Channel
Byrd Word - 2015 Charles Byrd Speaks at ICG San Francisco
Elite Online Publishing - How to use Evernote to organize your Life - Charles Byrd
Nicole Holland - Charles Byrd Explains The Beautiful Roller Coaster of Awesomeness
Mirasee - Course Builder’s Laboratory - Success Story - Charles Byrd
[Training Webinar] - Kill The Chaos: Host Matt Bodnar of The Science of Success Welcomes Charles Byrd
[00:00:04.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success. Introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:11.8] MB: Welcome to the Science of Success; the number one evidence-based growth podcast on the internet with more than three million downloads and listeners in over a hundred countries.
Welcome to a special bonus episode of Science of Success. We’re releasing this, because it’s a topic that I’m super passionate about and lots of listeners will get a ton of value from, but it’s not part of our regularly scheduled programming. Stay tuned on Thursday for a normal episode of the show.
In this interview, we discuss how to create an external brain that lets you keep track of your tasks, projects, ideas and inspiration while freeing your conscious mind for the most productive and focused thinking that you can do. We explore how you can connect the external world of meetings and events with your internal world of ideas and thoughts in a uniquely, powerful way.
We demonstrate how you can save up to a 144 hours a year using a few, simple techniques with our guest, Charles Byrd.
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[0:02:53.1] MB: Today, we have another exciting guest on the show, Charles Byrd. Charles is a productivity and organizational expert and the founder of the Byrd Word. He’s known as one of the world’s four most Evernote gurus. As a productivity expert, Charles coaches CEOs and entrepreneurs on how to kill the chaos of information overload.
Charles, welcome to the Science of Success.
[0:03:13.7] CB: Thanks for having me, Matt.
[0:03:15.7] MB: Well, we're really excited to have you on the show today. It's funny, I'm super pumped to have you especially because I'm so passionate about Evernote and longtime listeners have absolutely heard me talk about this, share this, etc., Listeners may not know this, but I actually sought you out Charles and basically said, “This guy's one of the world's top experts on Evernote and I wanted to bring him here and share with everybody at Science of Success how powerful and impactful Evernote can be.”
[0:03:44.0] CB: Yeah. It's an honor to be here and I'm excited to dive into some of the topics that will help both save people time and reduce their stress at the same time.
[0:03:54.7] MB: Awesome. I mean, I've had such a tremendously powerful impact from my life from using Evernote. The funny thing is I have multiple Evernote tabs open even right now and during any interview to keep track of my interview questions and all the notes and comments and show notes from the conversation. Even in real time right now, it's basically an ever-present thing in my entire life and helps organize pretty much everything that I do.
[0:04:20.1] CB: I'm with you, man. I've got a note up right now and it's tagged with your name, it's tagged with Science of Success, it's tagged with podcast. You're right, every single meeting, every idea popping into my head at random hours, on jogs, or here or there, it's always around, even from the first thing when I wake up, I do a four-minute Tabata workout and it's a YouTube link, right? I don't want to look that thing up every morning, so I've used Siri shortcuts in Evernote, so I simply press the button and say, “Tabata workout,” it pulls up that Evernote note, which has a link to the YouTube video. From the second I roll out of bed throughout my day, it’s ever-present.
[0:05:11.1] MB: Well, you're already dropping some seriously tactical knowledge and I want to get into that. It's funny, I even will wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and just jot ideas down in Evernote that I've been thinking of. Then the next morning, I'll get up and categorize and file those and figure out how they apply to whatever I'm working on.
[0:05:30.0] CB: Yeah. I do the same thing. I was working on this rebranding exercise. I'm coming up with all these name combinations and checking the domains. Yeah, last night, I don't know, it's probably 4:30 in the morning, like three new names pop in my head, I grab my phone, capture them and then keep reviewing them in the morning. What it is is part of a system that you trust and it's always there for you. When you know exactly how to apply it to your life, your profession, your business, it starts really empowering you and it just becomes a second part of your consciousness. It's like an external memory that's always interfacing with your internal systems.
[0:06:16.1] MB: It's exactly the way I was going to describe it. I view it as an external brain basically that keeps track of everything I want to keep track of and I only have to make sure that one information gets into it and two, be able to pull information out of it at the right time. I think that system, or that idea maybe it was either originally from, or got popularized by GTD, getting things done, which was this notion of build a trusted system as you said and then input information in the system and execute on the outputs of the system.
You can save a tremendous amount of cognitive load and processing power, simply by having the system do the bulk that work and you don't have to worry about it and constantly keep everything juggling in your head.
[0:06:59.1] CB: Yeah. I was fortunate to have David Allen on my show over the summer. I got to talk with him about this stuff. One of the things I just adore about using Evernote is it gives you a place to capture stuff from your own mind, the ideas that are popping in your head, your task list starting to form projects, you're the source of that information, even if it's taking photographs, or adding in attachments, or things you've made. Plus it lets you collect everything from the outside world from paper documents, receipts, forms on the cell, on the phone at working at home.
It lets you have one simple system that collects both your internal and external worlds from e-mails and paper documents and all of that in one place. Then I'm sure we'll dive into it here as well. When you learn how to recognize something's interesting or important and capture it and then tag it appropriately, that is the framework for finding whatever you need in five seconds, which I call your five-second superpower.
[0:08:08.3] MB: That's such a great way to think about it. I truly believe Evernote is a superpower. I mean, it's something that absolutely helps me keep track of everything and it's funny, longtime listeners of the show will definitely remember and think back and may even have a copy of this still, but one of the first, if not the first free giveaways that we ever created for the Science of Success listeners was a guide called How to Organize and Remember Everything.
I'm somebody who's known amongst, especially with my friends and stuff for having an amazing memory, or always being able to pull up an article, or a book, or whatever and keeping even all the books that I read. I keep this huge array of book notes and summaries and mind maps and all this information. That free guide or free giveaway was something that I was so passionate about that topic that I created for the listeners. One of the cornerstones of that was to use Evernote. I totally agree. I think it's absolutely – if you apply it in the right way, it can become essentially a superpower.
[0:09:05.7] CB: Yeah, really. I worked in the Silicon Valley for 15 years. I was a director at a billion dollar software company. When I left there and wanted to create online trainings focused on productivity and streamlining, the whole array of from how to shape the most productive days, to the tools to use, to the mindsets involved, I listed out all the things I felt I could create trainings on and there was about 40 of them. Then I honed in, “Okay, what are you really good at?” It's ranked to 12. Then I just looked at that list and I asked myself, “What's been the most useful for me in all kinds of contexts, from managing projects with budgets of 5 million dollars to starting a company, to remodeling a house, to raising a family, Evernote was always the top of the list.”
I'm like, well, I've designed some pretty unique and useful workflows in Evernote. Why not try sharing that with people? Most people have heard of Evernote. Most people, three-fourths of your audience probably actually hire with yours already have Evernote on their phone and they're using it for a couple things here and there, but they're likely not power users like you are Matt, or like I am. They may be using it to capture things from Web Clipper.
A lot of people have a specific thing they use it for, but they don't have a tangible way to find whatever they need super quickly. I remember, I went down to San Jose once, ran into one of the VPs and he was like, “We're looking forward to your presentation.” I said, “Great. Yeah. Next Tuesday like usual.” He's like, “No, we need everything in half an hour.” I went back to my desk and I'm stressing, because the stuff was buried in all kinds of systems, on e-mail and SharePoint. I recall, that that was the catalyst for me. I was like, “I have to design a system where I can find things quickly, so I'm not in these stressful situations.”
Because part of having a system you trust saves you time, but really for me, the biggest value is just dialing back the stress level by quite a bit, because you know exactly how to capture things and how to find them exactly when you need them.
[0:11:27.8] MB: You made a couple good points. One of them is just this notion and I tell people and I come from a financial background, so I think of almost garbage in, garbage out when you're looking at a financial model or something like that. I tell people Evernote is the same way, it's garbage in, garbage out. If you put in bad information, or you don't really use it that much, then it's not the thing that you always know that you can turn to to get what you want out of it.
The flip-side of that is if it's your guiding light, or your center mass that you're always coming back to and you know that everything's in there. I'm the same way, I have everything from recipes to screenshots or photos of fashion that I like, of things that I want to put into my office, to business ideas, to meeting notes. I can pull up meeting notes from any meeting that I've had in the last probably seven years within 10 seconds, right? Or as you say, within five seconds once I tag them appropriately.
It's amazing. Once you commit to actually dedicating and focusing your time and energy into it, it becomes – it's not a linear increase in the effectiveness or the power that you got out of, it's an exponential increase.
[0:12:37.5] CB: It is. From business context to just everyday life, like our fridge is making noise the other day and just to paint two different scenarios; one, you just open – call to get repairs and they want the receipt. Just search for the tag receipt and the tag fridge and have instantly, or the alternative is where the hell's the receipt, digging through drawers, looking through e-mails, spending two hours hunting for something that it's time you didn't have to start with.
Just psychologically, if you put yourself in pressured situations and you're not able to focus on what's actually important, because you're wasting time finding something, it's necessary but not quite as important, it's just stealing time from your higher priorities. Having a place to capture things and find them exactly when you need them saves you too from wasting time task-switching as well, because you're just more fluid in everything you do. I'm sure you’re a omni-focused task person, not as in the platform, but working on one thing at a time.
[0:13:53.1] MB: Definitely. Even the idea of how Evernote interacts with stress. The idea that I think about is the the notion, coming back to the notion of the external brain, right? The power for me in Evernote is that having all of this knowledge information, externalizing something that I can trust and know that it's there and know that I can find it and recall it instantly, frees up my processing power, so that I can dedicate it completely to focusing on what I'm doing, or I can unleash almost another level of creativity and thinking and focus onto anything, because I know that – I don't have anything else jumbling around in my head.
I put it in Evernote and then I honestly just let go of it. I know that I can find it and retrieve it the instant that I need it. That peace of mind is really powerful in terms of letting me get that focus and also cultivate more creative approaches to challenges or problems.
[0:14:47.8] CB: Yeah, I agree. I have a module I teach called Planning Your Perfect Today. What it is is this template inside of Evernote that lets you get things out of your head. You wake up, you're like, “I need to give Matt a ring. I need to do this or that.” These things start flooding your head. Having a place to get those off your mind, this is getting things done, stuff – get them off your mind and then you can objectively review them and prioritize and sequence them and then choose your top three for that day, set your Pomodoro timer and actually dig in and get to work on what matters the most. Instead of attempting to hold that in your brain and it starts stealing focus from you.
There's a method I use and teach for figuring out what to put in Evernote, because most everyone listening has Evernote on their phone right now. The question is how do you know when to put things in there? I'll give you a very simple way to do it. It's something I call the I dig it, I need it bell. It is the bell that goes off in your head when you recognize that something's either interesting, or important to you. Let's say you're going through your inbox and you just booked a flight and your flight confirmation is sitting there. You'll hear a bell in your head, sounds like that. When you hear that bell in your head, that is your cue to save that directly into Evernote right then.
Then I teach how to tag that. The method I used to do it, sometimes people have a tough time figuring out what tags should be, but it's actually very simple; who, what, where, why. Who, what, where, why. The reason this worked so well, so I just booked a flight to Irvine because I'm speaking at an event down there next month. When the flight confirmation came in, I tagged it as follows; travel, flight, southwest. I tagged it based on the name of the event I'm speaking at and even the person who invited me to speak at that event.
Here's the cool thing about it, it's like it gives you different context points to pull that information up later depending on how it pops into your head in the future. If you're like, “I've got a flight next month, what's the info on that?” Well, I can search for flight. Or if I'm like, “What's everything involved in this upcoming event that I'm doing?” I can pull up that tag, the flight will be there along with any other information about the event.
It ends up being a very magical thing, because you're your spoon feeding yourself the exact context points to get back to it immediately. The next wave of power here comes from searching for one tag and then searching for another. If I search for the tag flight, there'll be hundreds of flights there. Of course, this would be near the top because I just put it in there. If I add in the name of the event, or I'm flying to Irvine, add a second tag, it will filter by only those. This is how you find exactly what you need in five seconds.
Like you said, with your 10,000 notes, you can pull up our last conversation immediately. I would pull up the tag Matt and I would pull up the tag notes. Every conversation we've had would be there instantaneously.
[0:18:12.1] MB: Tagging is one of the – well, zooming out even a little bit, because this ties back in this idea of tagging. I consider myself a power user of Evernote, right? I mean, I have over 10,000 notes in Evernote. I've been using it religiously for almost 10 years at this point. I constantly am raving and talking to people about how awesome Evernote is, how it's changed my life, how I love it so much. Yet you came in and probably within 10 minutes of us having a conversation about it, I really didn't tag anything. I didn't really see the value or relevance of tagging and yet, just after our conversation, just implementing tagging has already had a huge increase in my ability to pull stuff up much more quickly and much more rapidly and instantly find whatever I want.
I've got so many notes. It's impossible tasks to ever go back and tag all of them, but what I've done is basically every new note now is getting tagged and then every time I search for something and try to pull it up and access an older note, I just go ahead and throw four or five tags in there and it makes it so much easier and so much quicker. All that to say, like I'm somebody who's at the 1% probably and I don't say that in the hubris. It’s just from raw amount of notes that I have of an Evernote user base.
You still are dropping tips left and right that I had no idea about the – You threw something out a minute ago about Siri. I don't even know what you're talking about, but that sounds like, “Oh, that sounds interesting. I wonder how I could use Siri to be more effective.”
[0:19:32.8] CB: I’ll explain that. Right before I do that, I want to – I've had these debates with other friends of mine in the productivity world that aren't using tags and they're like, Evernote search capabilities are ridiculously strong. I can find whatever I need. The fact is they can.
Here's a very logical and simple difference why tags are better. That is as follows; if you search for the word car, Evernote is going to find it. Any note, any PDF, any handwritten note, it will find it. It will also find any word carpet, or carpe diem, or car – anything, it's going to find that too. You'll have to sift through it. If you search for the tag car, you're only going to get what you intended to find when you captured it in the first place. Having that in the back of your mind, simply coming up with a tagger to it, you don't necessarily need four or five tags per note. Even one or two usually does the trick. It's always in context of what you're capturing.
As far as the Siri shortcuts go, this came out of course a few months back when Siri shortcuts came out in iOS 12. When you're on the mobile version of Evernote on iOS device and you go into a note, you'll see those three little dots in the top-right corner that represent a menu icon. You touch those and one of them is going to be Siri shortcut. The way to use that to great effect is anything that you're pulling up with some frequency, like I wouldn't make one for my notes from this conversation, but I do have one for that morning workout, I have one for my Kaiser card, I have one for things that – like my booking links.
I can just press Siri at any point, no matter what apps up, just say, “Booking links,” it will open Evernote and open to the note that has my booking link, so I can cut and paste them into other apps. Same thing, I walk into Kaiser, my health care provider to say, “Kaiser card,” and show them my phone and I'm good to go.
Those types of situations where things you would reference with some frequency I have this not particularly a morning affirmation guy, but I found one that I actually do enjoy and I have a shortcut for that as well. It's just really nice, because it takes the hunting out – when there's little barriers to entry, even tiny ones, this this gets a little wild, Matt. I have a treadmill desk. If there's a Amazon box sitting on there, an empty one even, I might not walk on the thing, because something is in the way and I'm like, “I'd have to move this, or do that.” Where if you make the path clear so that it's simple, then you will do it.
There's a chair I meditate in before bed and if there's clothes on it, there's a good chance I won't. If it's perfectly clean and ready to go, there's a massive chance I will. The point in bringing that up is design things to be frictionless.
[0:22:45.8] MB: You literally just – in real-time, I just realized I carry a very thin wallet. I have maybe five cards in my wallet and two of those cards or health insurance cards. I just realized just now I could take both of those out and just take a picture and put them in Evernote. You're in real-time adding value to me, because I just reduced the number of cards that I carry by 25% just based on the advice you just gave me.
I want to zoom out a little bit, because we're getting really tactical and I think this stuff is important. For people who are who are extreme power users like you and me, this is great. Let's say somebody has Evernote, or even they're thinking about, or they want to use it, or they say, “Oh, I should be using that, but I just can't get into it,” what would be some really simple strategies to either start using it more regularly, or maybe some basic principles that are really effective to get started with and get some value out of Evernote, for someone who's not already weighed deep down the journey of using it?
[0:23:37.1] CB: Oh, good point. There's a couple things; for one, there's something I created and teach called the power trifecta. It is the combination of tools, workflows and habits. What's missing in a lot of these conversations about tools like Evernote is people think it's about how the tool works; the factors you do need to know that. You also need to know how you should apply it to your life, to your business, profession, school, whatever it is you do. You can have the best tool in the world, but if you're not applying it to your life and your business, then you don't actually have Evernote, you have #nevernote and never note doesn't hook you up very often.
Let's say you do know how to use it and you know how to apply it to your world, the next part is habits. You need to be in the habit of capturing the information, so it's there when you need it. As I was mentioning earlier, the way to do it, this is the simple, simple way to do it; simply recognize when something's interesting or important, because that is your cue to put it into Evernote right then and tag it based on the who, what, where, why. Simply using those basic things, it will start being easy.
Let's say you're going through your e-mail inbox. Most of it not going to be super relevant to you, but let's say you got unsolicited testimonial from one of your star clients. You're going to hear that bell in your head, “This is interesting and important. I'm going to need that.” That's your cue to save it directly into Evernote. Or let's say you're at Home Depot and the receipt spits out of the self-checkout, just take a second and snap a picture of that receipt because when you get home, your wife might tell you the new fan you bought doesn't match the blinds correctly.
Since the receipt might have blown around in your car, why put any risk of not being able to find the thing? These are simple things. You're going to hear the bell in your head, you come up with that great new idea for a blog post, or a new product, or a way to serve your client in a unique way. When you think of it, just write it down in Evernote. Step one, just getting the habit of realizing when you're coming across something that you find interesting, or you know it's important and then save it in Evernote, tag it.
That's where everything starts getting a lot easier. Like I said, I teach people. Every day I have thousands of students. I teach them how to save three hours a week. When you save three hours a week, you’re reclaiming time in these little pockets using the five-second superpower. Saving three hours a week adds up to a 144 hours a year, or 18 working days of reclaimed time.
I will emphasize at least for me, and actually a lot of my clients and students that time savings is killer. I mean, the most valuable thing we have on the planet is time. That's not the most valuable reward from learning this, it's dialing back the stress levels, it's killing the chaos of information overload by giving yourself systems you trust.
To simply get started, get the app on your phone, log in there and learn the basics how to make a new note; simply click the new note button or plus sign and just get in the habit of doing that for anything in your world that's interesting or important.
[0:27:15.2] MB: I'm guessing you listen to this podcast, because you want to improve yourself in some way. That's why I'm so excited to have our amazing sponsor Skillshare back to sponsor us once again.
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[0:29:10.9] MB: You brought up another great point, which is something that I've intuitively developed over the last year, five plus years using Evernote. That’s the difference between – I think Evernote is beautiful; one, because it's a methodology to capture ideas and information, but it's also really effective at then consolidating and organizing them. I think that's actually another principle from GTD, or maybe from somewhere else, but it's this idea that when I get up at 3:00 in the morning and I have this flash of insight and I have, “Oh, this is a great idea,” I just open Evernote, jot it in, typos, whatever and just hit okay. Close it. Then I'll get up the next morning, or at a absolute bare minimum, I have a weekly ritual of every Sunday going through my – all the Evernote notes I've created in the last seven days and sometimes even going back further just to see what's been on my mind recently and consolidating those.
A lot of times, I'll keep a list in many different instances and for many different businesses and projects that I’m involved with, I have idea lists of hey, here's all the marketing ideas I have for this company. Then if I get up in the middle of the night and I have an idea for it, I might just throw that as a new note. Then when I'm going through my consolidation, I'll add that to the list and then think about, “Okay, I want to make sure this list is ranked in terms of priority and ease or whatever,” and there's a lot of ways to do that too. That's a whole another rabbit hole.
All that to say, then I go, I just search for the tag for marketing ideas for that company and I have a list of 25 ideas that I've come up with previously, and so I say, “Hey, I want to do some new marketing initiatives. Here's all the thinking I've already done around it.” I can just cherry-pick the top two or three off of that and start executing on them.
[0:30:47.8] CB: That's perfect. A couple quick ideas about that, if you want to consolidate into a single note list like you're referring to, that would be a good example of a note to create a Siri shortcut for. Let's say you were consulting, it could be your own company, or you’re consulting another company, you just make a Siri shortcut for marketing ideas, for Acme productivity company. That way, you can pull them up immediately.
The other way to do it and I do these things both ways; I'll give you two examples, but the other way I would do that where you never actually have to go back and consolidate them would be when one of those ideas pop in, you capture it, you note it and then I tag it idea and then I tag it the name of the company. In the future when I want those, I simply search for those two tags, all these separate notes will come up that have those and I've got them right there.
An example of a note that I do use a consolidated list would be when I get oil changes in the car, I'll just pull up the same note and track them in there. You can certainly do it either way, whatever connects and reflects best with the way you work and think. The most streamlined way in general is to simply make a new note and tag it idea and the name of the company, because oh well, other than that Siri shortcut idea that gets you straight to that note and to start with. There's always more than one way to do it. I lean more toward the just making a new note and tagging it approach.
[0:32:24.0] MB: Well, you bring up a great point too, which is a lot of times and I think I'm as guilty of this as anybody, but a lot of times it's so easy to get caught up in trying to do it perfectly and saying, “Oh, I screwed up. I forgot to enter this idea. Or Oh, I forgot to use Evernote last week. Or Oh, I'm not doing it the exact right step-by-step, every single little thing right.” Then so you just give up and stop doing it, which is the worst possible thing. Even if you're using it to 20% of its capacity, you can get huge dividends from applying it.
Just because it's being – It doesn't have to be perfect, right? Your method for categorizing ideas, you don't have to have a neat, perfect, curated list. You could just throw it in there with some typos, tag it up. Then when you have that search, you can still find all the relevant information. There's no one perfect way. A lot of times getting caught up in needing, or having, or thinking that it has to be this exact perfect strategy or has to be exactly a certain way and then you give up and say, “Oh, just too hard to do Evernote, because I can't get it organized the way I want.” You're sometimes giving up a huge opportunity to really externalize a lot of your ideas and make your thinking a lot more clearer.
[0:33:30.9] CB: Yeah, I agree. I feel even if you didn't use some of the cool stuff we're talking about, you'd have a significant advantage simply just capturing stuff in there and never tagging it. Some people that buy my programs, or hire me for consulting, they wish they had – were starting with this fresh, clean slate, right? They're like, “Oh, if only I'd learned this and done this to start with.” Of course, that'd be lovely, right?
I still think they're at a significant advantage over people who are starting today, because if they have this whole array of content in Evernote, maybe they don't feel it's super organized, they still get the benefit of using search. Now they can search for whatever they want and they have that advantage over people that didn't start earlier, who have nothing to search for yet until they start putting things in there.
Here's another cool point; some people have a hodgepodge of stuff, ways you can start organizing what you already have without going painstakingly back through all the notes is simply, let's say you're going through and found a bank statement. Look for a string of text on there that's only going to be in your bank statements and search for that. Then next thing you know, all the bank statements show up immediately. You command A to highlight them all and tag them all at once. You can start organizing some of the more important items in your backlog of stuff.
I can tell you firsthand, the feeling you get inside when you need something and you're able to pull it up instantly, like I do a lot of shows and interviews and stuff and sometimes the host may not have my bio handy or something. They didn't see it in the e-mail, so I can go to Evernote, search for the tag bio, it's up instantly, copy a link, message it to them or text them. That feels good.
What doesn't feel good is when you need something that you know should be in Evernote, you go and look and it's not there, because you didn't put it in, the difference in the feeling; one, you feel like a rock star who can do anything. The other feels so hollow, because you know you let yourself down.
All I'm getting at there is by getting in the habit of allowing yourself to be a rock star, listening to the idea that I need a bell and following it every time, it's that cue that triggers a routine that delivers a reward. We want the reward to be time savings and killing the chaos of information overload. That's exactly what this solution delivers.
[0:36:15.4] MB: This might be a little bit going back to the deeper, more power user ask questions, but I'm curious for someone who has so many notes, do you ever have – let's say you and then this may not be directly, but let's say you were working on a project, or you change jobs and suddenly you have 700 notes from an old project, or a company that you sold and you're no longer involved with, do you look – do you just keep those in there? Do you look to archive them? How do you typically handle if you have a large chunk of information that no longer is relevant, or potentially you want in there?
[0:36:47.3] CB: Yeah. Actually when Evernote invited me to their campus to do a Facebook Live for their audience, they asked me the same question. My approach to it, it's just mine. It's not something I'm saying everyone should do, but basically I have 39,000 notes right now and I have stuff from way back in the day. The question was do you go back through and do housecleaning and purge older things? The short answer is I don't. I don't see a need to spend time on that. I have a lot higher priority ways to spend my time.
That said, there's some very simple ways to do it. If you are in the mood to do some housecleaning with your Evernote stuff, it is easy to do. For one, you can do searches for any notes that are over a certain age and then you could glance through those and figure out if you could purge them too, you could pull up a tag, or a notebook for a project, or team that just isn't in your world anymore, whatsoever. You just know you're not going to need it, sure blow it away.
The other trick I use occasionally is if I just know I'm capturing something that I'm certainly never going to need again after a certain date or point, I simply tag it and delete later. I'm pre-identifying, as I capture it that I'm not going to need this information later on purpose. Let's say it was a digital ticket to a show, or something, something where after you use it, it's no longer valuable to you. Then you could tag it delete later and every month or two, just pull that up and delete it later. There's some simple ways to do it. I haven't seen a huge advantage to spending time that way, but it is very easy to prune it down using techniques like that.
[0:38:39.0] MB: What's interesting, the theme that I've seen again and again from the way that you approach this and the way you’ve answered some of these questions is almost the philosophy from – I’m forgetting the exact term, but lean manufacturing, right? The idea of touch it once and that's it. When it enters, you tag it up, touch it, get it the way you want it to be and then you don't ever come back and edit or mess with it again. You can if you want to, but it's really from an efficiency standpoint, you're basically saying you want to do maybe one second extra on the front end to get a tag and categorize correctly and then you don't mess with it anymore after that, other than looking it up again.
[0:39:12.0] CB: Yeah. There's something else I teach called a working space. Those are the types of things I come back to. I do go back to notes and continue working on them. To your point, yes, I absolutely think it's worth spending an extra second or two to come up with a couple tag that saves you so much time later. Basically, what you're doing is in investing in saving yourself time in the future. At the expense of that extra second, like for these notes I'm taking right now, how long did it take me to type your name, the word podcast and Science of Success? I'm a pretty quick typer, that probably took literally three seconds if that.
For me, it's certainly worth it because when we talk again in a week or two or whatever, or in six months, I just search for your name and bam, we're picking up right where we left off, maintaining momentum. Quick best practice for anyone using Evernote if you're in meetings throughout the day. As a habit when you sit down for a new meeting, simply make a new note. It's just part of your flow. This is how Matt does it. It's how I do it. Sit down for a meeting, make a new note, tag it with the person's name, tag it with the reason you're meeting with them, the who, what, where, why.
Then as you're taking notes throughout the conversation, anytime there's an action item, simply click the little checkbox that's a task. That way when you're scanning through your notes at the end of the call, especially if you're going call to call to call throughout the day, it's super nice to just scan through, see any of the actions. A nice little best practice perk I would throw in there too, right when you hang up, glance through it, identify what those actions are, set a reminder on it if you need to if there's a follow-up, or cut and paste those tasks into a task manager.
A little trick I've been using that I am enjoying is writing a little sentence or two summary of the meeting and outcomes and next steps at the top. When I pull up our notes a week from now, I don't have to go dive in and figure out what I meant in my notes, but I give myself a nice little summary.
[0:41:33.1] MB: To recap things, give me in one or two sentences why you think Evernote is so important and so powerful and why people should use it?
[0:41:41.1] CB: I consider Evernote the foundation. It's the cornerstone of sanity. It doesn't mean we're not using other tools. In fact, I'm a big fan of using the right tool for the job, but in my professional opinion Evernote is the foundation of all of it. Let's say you're writing a book, or some long scripts, or something like that, Google Docs would be the appropriate choice, because you can track changes. It's the right tool for the job, but it plays nicely with Evernote. In fact, it natively integrates with Evernote, so that I can use Google Docs with my team and then that Google Doc is linked inside of Evernote and tagged Google Docs, it's tagged copyrighting, it's tagged whatever I need it to be, so I can still find whatever I need in five seconds and Evernote is leading me to exactly where the info is.
To me, this is a pillar of productivity and I would be utterly lost without it. I'm quite grateful that not only I get to benefit from it every day, but I get to reach millions of people a year helping them get organized and kill the chaos of information overload. In fact, right after this session I'm jumping on a meeting with the new CEO of Evernote.
[0:42:57.5] MB: Very exciting. That just goes to show what an expert you are that the CEO of Evernote is calling you and having meetings with you and asking you for advice and feedback about the platform.
[0:43:06.9] CB: Yeah. It will be a community call. I met with Chris the last CEO a few times. I even got him to plug my course on camera.
[0:43:16.6] MB: Nice. Well, so for listeners who want to concretely implement this, want to start taking action on this, what would be an action step, or a piece of homework that you would give them to begin the journey of letting Evernote change your life?
[0:43:28.0] CB: I would recommend they write down this URL and then go there. It is sos.killthechaos.pro/training. That's sos.killthechaos.pro/training. What that will do is get you on an actual training where Matt and I dive into all the core features of Evernote and exactly how to use them. We dig deeper into the power trifecta. For those of you who are just eager to get going this second, simply make sure you have Evernote on your phone or computer, log into your accounts, start getting comfortable with making a new note and listen for the I dig it, I need it bell to be your trigger to capture things in Evernote right then. I can assure you the liberation that comes with it is it comes in very short order. It's certainly worth your time.
[0:44:15.7] MB: Thanks for sharing that URL. That's right. I've partnered up with Charles. I think what he's doing is so important. I'm such a huge fan, advocate, absolute power super user of Evernote. That's why I wanted to bring him in and conduct a free training for all the Science of Success listeners. You can go check that out and sign up at sos.killthechaos.pro/training.
[0:44:37.6] CB: Beautiful.
[0:44:38.4] MB: Charles, thank you for coming on the show and sharing all this knowledge.
[0:44:41.7] CB: Oh, my pleasure Matt. Thanks for having me.
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