I don’t remember who exactly turned me on to Evernote – but whoever it was, I sincerely thank you! Evernote has become an integral tool to my business and was especially helpful when I was working full-time in the tax office. I was finally able to stop emailing myself links for resources and articles I wanted to read, but instead, add them to a Note.
Here’s how Evernote describes itself:
As one workspace that lives across your phone, tablet, and computer, Evernote is the place you write free from distraction, collect information, find what you need, and present your ideas to the world.
Which is a fancy way of saying, it’s a piece of software that you can load across all your platforms (smartphone, tablet, and multiple computers) that you can use just like a word processor to create documents, called Notes. And then these Notes instantly sync up across all devices.
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t use Evernote to its full capacity! Since I now (thankfully!) work from a single work-space at my home desktop computer, I’m less worried about syncing information between different devices and locations. Right now, I don’t even have Evernote installed on my phone!
I’m a HUGE fan of anything that will spark creativity, storytelling, and basically just get me unstuck in my writing. Even though I primarily write non-fiction, sometimes taking an hour or so to work on a fiction piece can just get the words flowing.
And sometimes just THINKING about fiction stories will do it!
Just so we’re 100% clear: I think fiction is way harder than non-fiction. I have the greatest respect for fiction authors. And since my video project is within a week of being completely finished, I’m rapidly running out of excuses to avoid starting the novel.
So when I got an email from Writer’s Digest saying that they had these little six-sided dice guaranteed to get your writing juices flowing, I was all in.
They are very similar to a tool I made a million years ago called a story machine. Basically you come up with two decks of index cards, one with occupations and one with situations. Pull a card from each deck and whamo! write a story about it. The problem was that I had to come up with the ideas for both decks of cards. AND, after playing with it for a while, it wasn’t really a “random” story. It just wasn’t easy enough to create permutations.
Enter “Writer’s Blocks”
There are four six-sided cubes:
Green – genre
Orange – plot twist
Red – protagonist
Blue – plot archetype
Sounds pretty straight forward, fun and easy, right?
At first glance, I really REALLY liked the idea. Especially the since the protagonist cube has a non-human! (Hello dogs and birds and even inanimate objects!)
Here are the challenges:
1. The pouch the cubes come in is so tiny that they just barely fit inside
2. There’s a “key” on a teeny weeny piece of paper
3. The key isn’t printed anywhere else; you can’t find it on the website
And the key is pretty much critical to using the cubes. Otherwise, you have to remember exactly what “Hero-MA” means or what rolling a “rival” on the blue cube stands for.
I LOVE the idea of these blocks. They’re small, have a TON of ideas that can be created and completely generate lots of ideas.
So I’ll be scanning the key into the computer so I have it when the tiny piece of paper makes it inevitable break for freedom. And I’ll be transferring the blocks to a larger pouch that can fit the four cubes AND the instructions.
Here’s a link where you can get the Writer’s Blocks. They make a GREAT gift!
When I started my first online business eleven years ago I started keeping a business journal. Maybe it was because I started the business immediately upon graduating from college and I was in the habit of taking notes for EVERYTHING.
Now, when I say “journal” I don’t mean you need to go out and buy a fancy notebook! You can if you want to, but I used a red, single subject spiral bound notebook. On the outside of the notebook I would write the dates the journal covered. Once I started filling a lot of red notebooks, I also numbered them.
And because I’m a bit crazy about it – college rule and it HAD to be red. Every new entry was dated and always started on the right-hand side of the page. I even had a special pen to write in the journal.
I got teased a lot in the early days of the business for recording EVERYTHING in my red notebook. I couldn’t even THINK about having a meeting (on the phone or in person) without it. Throughout that business’s existence, I pretty much carried that journal with me everywhere and I kept a record of ideas, meetings, plans, brainstorms, goals, systems, and pretty much anything under the sun.
Not only was the business journal a great way to keep all my ideas in one place, it also became a key to my business’s future. In the early days of the business, I ended up suing a contractor for a breach of contract. REALLY long story short, because I had kept a dated record of every meeting, my attorney was able to put together a hugely detailed case proving the breach of contract and other points in the suit. The whole experience was absolutely miserable but I felt so much better about it that I wasn’t relying on my imperfect memory of events; I had notes about every meeting.
Today, I still keep a business journal. Since I have two businesses, I have two separate journals – color coded! A yellow notebook for TheOutdoorPrincess.com and dark blue for On The Beach Publishing. I’m still in love with one-subject, college-rule, spiral-bound notebooks but I no longer insist that I use a special pen!
But it does REALLY stress me out when I can’t find my notebook. I keep the past notebooks on a special shelf and my current notebook in the bag (briefcase) I drag around with me everywhere.
And in the rare times where I don’t have the notebook handy, I take my notes on some other piece of paper and then tape it into the notebook later.
And I’m sure you’re thinking:
Great idea! But I’ll do it on the computer.
Here’s why I use a notebook and write it out longhand, old school:
- Sometimes a computer isn’t handy, available, or practical. A pen and paper ALWAYS is.
- Writing things out longhand taps into a different part of your brain and can unlock your creativity.
- You can tape or staple other things into the notebook.
What To Record In Your Business Journal
- Notes from meetings. My only exception is when I meet with a client. That I do on loose-leaf, unlined white paper. Then I create a file folder for the client.
- Marketing ideas.
- Flow charts. I draw mine on huge pieces of paper and then shrink it to fit.
- Ideas for books.
- Ideas for blog articles.
- Notes from classes, teleseminars, webinars, etc.
- Tape in business cards (and notes about the contact) from networking events.
A business journal is pretty much like a personal journal but instead of recording your whole life, it’s a snapshot of your business.
One of the things I LOVE about my business journal is that I can go through old journals and see what I was thinking last year, last month, last week. Sometimes there was a great idea that I just wasn’t ready to implement at the time but is EXACTLY what my business needs now.