Best Practices for Collaborating with Evernote
One of the most powerful features of Evernote is the ability to collaborate with other people - both Evernote users and non-Evernote users. In this #GetUntethered Hangout on Air replay, Untethered with Evernote co-Authors Stacey Harmon and Kristi Willis illustrate the necessary skills, best practices and workflow considerations for using Evernote for collaboration.
Original Air Date: November 2014
[05:30] Different Evernote tiers
[17:00] Activity feed
[21:00] Using a weekly meeting agenda
[24:25] Tracking status with naming conventions
[32:00] Workflows using notebooks
[34:15] Template notebooks
[35:50] Your digital desk
[40:20] Designating personal and shared spaces
[Stacey] Welcome to this edition of our GetUntethered Hangouts. I am Stacey Harmon, I’m here with my co-author Kristi Willis. We wrote Untethered with Evernote. This is our monthly hangout designed to orient you in one hour to the deeper concepts that we explain in the book. We give you some real workflows and case studies to supplement the book. Today we’re talking about collaborating with Evernote.
We have a great session planned for you today. I am encouraged by some of the things that are happening with Evernote. We’re going to cover some of the things that are in the book but also touch on some new workflows that are really smart.
[5:30 – Different Versions] Before I pass it over to Kristi, I want to go through the different Evernote tiers, so that you may choose the correct tier for your collaboration needs. Evernote has this great chart that they recently posted in their forum that helps break down the different tiers. The three versions are free, Premium, and Business. The thing to know is that you can share any note, with anyone at anytime, no matter what version you’re on. Even with non-Evernote users. When you step up to project management in Evernote, and having team workflows, Evernote Premium is a great choice. It is $5 a month of $45 a year. Or, if you’d like to retain the intellectual property and data associated with your business, Evernote Business might be the choice for you. $10 a user a month.
This allows for editing of notes by other people that are involved in your workflow. It is really worth the investment. Always be sure to notice the language differences between share capabilities between Premium and Business. In Premium, you can share a link to a notebook. If you are a Premium user, and you share a notebook with a free user, they can still edit the note. The key is that one person, the owner, has to be a premium user. The publishing works a little bit differently in the Business version. Note that depending on what version you’re on, your publish function is going be slightly modified.
To set the stage, we want to think of notebooks as collaborative workspaces. Evernote notebooks are going to be a spot where you can invite other people to interact with you. Evernote is becoming the software tool to write, collect, find and present in a collaborative way with Evernote and even non-Evernote users. How you are doing these things will impact how you structure your notebooks.
Who do you need to share with? Who needs access to things? Do they need to edit or view only? These are permissions that you can assign to the notebook.
[Kristi] That’s a great overview of what we’re going to cover. Stacey and I thought that it would be helpful for our newer users to hit the highlights of the key skills that you want when collaborating. The tools that you might use within Evernote range from checklists and tables to reminders, note linking, etc. If you aren’t familiar with these items, these are some of the course skill sets to be able to share effectively with other people.
Let’s hit a few highlights; one big one is sharing. There are a couple of different ways that I can share. I can share notebooks or notes individually. How I share my notebooks will depend on whether it is personal or notebook. I’ve shown two different examples here for the same project, our cookbook. There are several notebooks involved with the project. One is a recipes notebook. This particular notebook, while for a company project, is created as a personal notebook because eventually we’re going to get to recipe testing and I want to be able to share that entire notebook with people outside of the company through a public link. We wanted that to be outside of the business version of Evernote.
The other notebook that you see on the right is our project notebook. We don’t need other people involved in this notebook; therefore it is a business notebook. When you’re talking about sharing, and you want to share an entire workspace, be thoughtful about whom you want to have access to that. Which method would you choose to share that?
I can also share individual notes. I have lots of non-Evernote using clients. Sharing a notebook might be a bit much, but I do frequently share individual notes. There are a variety of ways that I can do that. When I right-click on a note, or control-click on a note, I see a few sharing options. Among those are public links, social media, or even e-mailing a note. I e-mail notes quite a bit.
You can also share notes with documents, whether they be .docs or .pdfs. For example, with the cookbook, we have a plan that says when all of the photoshoots are and which recipes will be tested by when… that’s all in an Excel spreadsheet. We share that together by having that in a note. Even when I’m on a device that doesn’t have Excel, I can preview that document inside Evernote. Same thing with images, .pdfs and other Microsoft office documents. When I want to update our timeline, I can find it in Evernote, open it in Excel, make changes, and save. That keeps it up-to-date in Evernote. The one caveat is that you need to be careful about who is working inside certain notes at the same time. Editing something like the spreadsheet at the same time can be conflicting.
[17:00 – Activity Feed] How do I know who is making changes to what? The Activity Feed. The little satellite at the top of your screen in Evernote can show you who is making changes to what and when. You can also check the note history for individual notes, but the activity feed is an easy way to see what is going on day-to-day.
Note counts are another way to tell when something is happening in a notebook. For example, I have weekend scanning parties where I scan all of my receipts. Poor Lillian opens Evernote and finds that Receipts to Reconcile has ballooned over the weekend! She can tell how much work she has to do via the note count.
Those are some of the core skills for being able to work effectively together and collaborate. Stacey and I have divided the next portion up. I’m going to talk about collaborating with notes, where Stacey will describe some notebook examples.
[21:00] Firstly, Lillian and I rarely sit next to each other. We really depend on Evernote to keep ourselves organized and connected. When I took on a new contract, we realized that we needed a new way to organize ourselves. One thing that we had been doing effectively was using a weekly meeting agenda. We are also using a weekly checklist. The meeting is what we will talk about, which drives into actions for the following week. We both pull from the checklist to create our own personal to-do lists. We go back and check things off as we go along. That way I can go back and monitor Lillian’s status. I definitely don’t micro-manage, so she’s able to do things independently. We use dated reminders at the top so that we can get e-mail reminders for certain notes. We also use naming conventions to drive the checklists for the upcoming weeks. This helps us work effectively together, even when we’re not sitting with each other.
[24:25] Another example inside a shared notebook would be tracking status with naming conventions. Using naming conventions in our shared notebook around the cookbook, I can tell what I need to test versus what Lillian needs to do. The language at the front of the note name can lead to a sort where we can easily find our to-dos using the “sort by title.” By changing the names as we go along, we move through the process and alert the other as to their new tasks. This has been a great way for us to organize 120 recipes!
[Stacey] Even if you’re not writing a cookbook, that skill is so helpful in many other scenarios. I use that technique in my lead notebook.
[Kristi] And we had originally used this as a tag example. Instead of the naming convention, we were using tags. However, since I can’t sort within a notebook by tag, using the naming convention allowed me to sort the entire book’s order, not pull a subset of just a tag.
[Stacey] To answer Michael’s question here, there isn’t much difference between the collaboration functions of Evernote Premium and Business. Some of the vocabulary is different, but how you work together does not change.
[Kristi] To add to that, think about how much we upload to Evernote. I don’t want all of the stuff I’m uploading for the business to eat up Lillian’s personal Evernote account storage and space.
[32:00] [Stacey] Now I’m going to discuss some workflows using notebooks. This is a case study for my client John Wayne Enterprises. As you can imagine, they must manage the brand, and we use a notebook tracking system to help manage “John Wayne” as a brand name. We use the naming convention “Permission” to distinguish between other notebook workflows. We’ve also forced an alphabetical sort of the addition naming conventions using dots in front of names. When I new request comes in, it goes into the incoming notebook. Also, the note counts help us here, again, knowing how much stuff is in each notebook. Then it follows the rest of the workflow.
[34:15] We also use a template notebook to keep track of certain forms that are accessed on a frequent basis. For example, a W9, a royalty report, etc. Instead of using a shared server, we can just put it in this notebook. There is also a use case here in which you might want to make this notebook “read only.” That way, when a user wants to gain access, they’ll have to copy the note or template into their own notebook so that it preserves the integrity of the original template.
[35:50] This next solution is a great and simple use case. How many people have been asked to look at things on their desk? For one of my clients, he created individual “Desk” notebooks to serve as digital desks for each person inside the business. You can see there that there are three different notebooks that serve as that digital desk or inbox as opposed to using physical paper. Now when she sends a text out that says “hey this is waiting for you on your desk…” she’s referring to Evernote! You could also use the other sharing and notification tools that Kristi discussed earlier instead of a text notification. The visual cue of note counts is critical here! It’s much more informative if there is work to do. And don’t forget that you can move notes out of here once they’re ready to move on in their process.
Evernote also allows you to give context to collaboration as well. You can see here that Rene has left Anne a comment inside the note to ask her a question. This serves as a sort of post-it note! Don’t forget, anyone who has access to this notebook will be able to see EVERYTHING inside those notebooks. Be sure to use other channels for sensitive information.
[40:20] I collaborate extensively through Evernote, but my entire space is not all for collaboration. I always set up a workspace that is just for me, and other workspaces to be shared with certain people. Kristi and I set up a notebook for the book, but I also have my own notebooks surrounding the book. I also tend to share a notebook with my clients. It varies depending on complexity, but you can see that I’ve set workspaces that are personal and shared. I also make sure to use naming indicators to tell me who has access to notebooks and group them together.
You can always mix and match workflows so that they will accomplish your specific design.
[Kristi] I’ve always thought of Evernote as my digital desktop, my homebase. By creating that collaboration space, we’re able to have that shared desktop. I always think of a physical, big, shared desk… but now it’s easy to pass information, and it’s always saved. I also love the idea of having inward and outward facing notebooks. That can be with notes as well. Even outside the business, you can collaborate on personal trips or anything that requires that need for multiple users.
[Stacey] Now your work is centralized, and then the “findability” of that information is so easy inside Evernote. It amplifies your productivity.