January 24, 2016

How I Use Evernote - Part 4

Hello again!  I'm glad you are still following along in my Evernote series!  If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here.
Part 1 - Introduction to Evernote
Part 2 - Homeschool Resources and Organization
Part 3 - Homeschool Exams and Record-keeping

My final post in this mini-series is on other household uses.  This has truly endless possibilities and can be tweaked to suit your family!  I won't try to cover even all my ideas for it here, but give you some of the more useful ways I currently use Evernote for things other than our homeschool.

Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my top 8 uses for Evernote!

1. Finances

Each weekend, as part of my weekly wrap-up, I take photos of my receipts straight into Evernote.  You can do them all, or just the ones related to credit cards, or ones you are tracking for a specific purpose.  I scan the cash receipts into Evernote and tag with categories (restaurant, homeschool, grocery, etc.), then the credit/debit receipts go straight into our QuickBooks Online app.  I don't usually reference receipts again, but its good to know I can look back in case there are any questions.  Then I throw the receipts away, unless I think a return/exchange may be in coming.  I have a Finance EN notebook within my Homemaker stack.
Although we no longer do this regularly thanks to QB, you can enter bills, statements and more in the same place.  Now that EN has a reminder function, you could have your bills pop up in the Reminder list at the appropriate time.

2.  User manuals and Maintenance records

Each time we buy something that comes with a manual, I make a new note in my Manuals notebook, which is also in my Homemaker stack.    Creative name for the notebook, right?  Keep it simple. :)  You can also note when/where/why the item was bought, just above the photos of the manuals pages for warranty purposes.
I have another notebook names Maintenance and Repairs.  This is where I keep home and vehicle maintenance information.  Also, information on how to do maintenance and repairs on items in the house - like how to clean out the dryer vent, or even stain removal tips.  Tag appropriately, especially if your list of notes is getting long!

3.  Emergency information

This is stored in !Emergency Notebook, not within a stack.  The '!' before the letter ensures it stays at the top of the list of notebooks.  Here are emergency prep lists, wills, safety deposit box info and the like.  You could put as much on here as you are comfortable with.  I normally keep all my Notebooks shared across devices, including this one, but you could make it so this one in particular is only available on your desktop for safety.  I don't keep SS or credit card #'s in this folder, but you could so replacement would be easier if the physical versions are stolen.

4.  Digital Scrapbook (or daily log)

This is a big one for me.  I don't really keep a diary anymore, and post all significant events on Facebook.  It makes sense to automate a diary of sorts these days.  I use If This Then That (IFTTT) to automatically create a log for Facebook, Instagram, etc.  There are tons of pre-made "recipes" on IFTTT you can participate in based upon what you want to save.  This means all your Facebook posts will be searchable for real, not FB's version of searchable.  I have a notebook called Dear Diary within my Personal stack, as well as one called Scrapbooking.  I think I have Instagram automatically going into Scrapbooking, and FB posts going into Dear Diary.  I set it up over a year ago, and it is literally set it and forget it! You tell it which notebook and even what tags to put on imports, so its all exactly where you want it.

I also have IFTTT save all my blog posts.  These go into the Blogs notebook in my Educator stack, along with Crafts and Book Notes.

I also archive my BuJo photos.  The Bullet Journal is where my daily to-dos, notes and ideas go on paper, with a real pen. I love writing by hand, but its so hard to find things again, even with the index.  Its just slow.  So I photograph each BuJo page every few months and save it to EN.  I also photograph my physical commonplace book, and place those pages into my EN Commonplace Book notebook, along with quotes online that I have saved with web clipper.

I know that sounds like a lot, but I literally don't spend any time at all on this scrapbook/log idea.  Spend an hour setting up all your accounts with IFTTT, which is free, then let it do its thing.

5.  Recipes

I use EN at least weekly for recipes.  I collect, store, and read them from EN when cooking.  I use Web Clipper anytime I come across something yummy, and I do that so often that its learned what Notebook to put it in.  I use this notebook for weekly menu planning, so have tags for my recipe, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, drinks, etc.  I also have some tags specific to dietary issues, like "gluten-free" and "dairy-free".  This makes it easier, especially now that I have 363 recipe notes, and many of those have multiple recipes on a page.  I found that even though I like having a physical cookbook while cooking, I much prefer using EN's search for finding the recipes across all my cookbooks.  So, as a weekend project, I suggest pulling out your favorite cookbooks and snapping photos into your Recipe notebook.  Make sure not to forget the index page and page numbers in the photos, so its easier to get the book off the shelf and find it there as well.

6.  Projects, Planning and Research

Projects - Collect information, make checklists, share note with others involved, annotate notes, and
archive when the project is completed.  If you ever need to remember exactly what paint color you used in the office, the size of the room or how much the furniture you really wanted cost, you can find it all in your Project notebook!  Tagged "office" or anything that is appropriate.    I have collected birthday party ideas, decorating ideas, gardening tips and more.  Also great for planning vacations!

Planning - Yearly, seasonal/interval goal setting, project planning, brainstorming.  I recommend looking at Simplified Organization.  I went through Mystie's Work the Plan program, and she includes how it can be done with Evernote and other digital tools.  She does it so well, so I just ride her coat-tails on this part of things!

Research - I have a Wellness notebook where I put articles relating to the health concerns in my family.  I tag with the health issue and the person's name, making it easy to refer to as needed.  I also research essential oils, diets, and homeschooling ideas using EN and web clipper.

7. Contacts

I don't keep business cards very long anymore.  I shoot a photo, and EN automatically recognizes it as a contact, puts it in the Contact notebook and pulls the name, address and phone and other normal information from the card.  IFTTT can also help collect your contacts by importing from your email provider, LinkedIn and more.  Here's a screenshot of what taking a business card photo looks like - no retyping all the information!

8. Record-keeping

Whatever you need kept, put in Evernote.  Results of doctor's visits, test results, therapy sheets you may want to refer to multiple times has come in handy for me.  I told in the last EN post how I keep homeschool records, but left out attendance.  This is rather important as many states do require a certain number of days of school, and want to see "proof".  Kentucky wants us to keep grades and work samples as well, so I have all of that in EN.

Below is our attendance sheet for this year.  I just took last years and copied it into a new note and took out the checks.  The nice thing about doing it this way is I idon'thave to worry about days of the week, just total numbers, so each month I add up the days in MTD (month to date) and then year to date (YTD) to keep a running total.  Last year I did color code weekends and holidays, but that was too much trouble to do again.  9-week grading periods and grades are below what you can see in the screenshot, in this same note.

Homeschool Attendance Record within Evernote

I hope this gives you some ideas to help you organize and keep track of things more efficiently!  Let me know if you have any questions or more ideas to share.  Thanks for joining me for my Evernote mini-series!

January 19, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Disease

Disease?  Yes.  Its an odd topic for me on a homeschooling blog, or for Wednesday with Words.  Bear with me.

I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, plus another one I won't go into here. This is the most common thyroid problem, causing weight gain, fatigue, and many other symptoms.  Conventional medicine says to take some T3 in the form of levothyroxin so your body can make enough T4 (those are hormones).  Or, if your body doesn't do that well, take some T4 as well.  So pills for life.  I'm not a fan, but you do what you have to do.  Is there anything else that can be done?

Maybe.  Maybe you've heard this:
All disease begins in the gut - Hippocrates
It makes sense, since the majority (nearly 80%) of your immune system is located in the gut.  There is this thing called Leaky Gut that  many of us deal with, especially those with autoimmune issues.  It may not be accompanied with digestive symptoms.

So what?  Well, turns out, leaky gut can be healed by eliminating triggers and eating nutritiously.  If one can heal their gut, then less illness and disease would be in his future.  That's something to smile about!

I'm listening to the Heal Your Gut Summit this week.  Its free to join in!  Its Day 2 today, and I don't want you to miss out if this topic is of interest to you.  Click here to sign up!

More great Hippocrates quotes! (found on BrainyQuote.com)

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm.

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.

Walking is man's best medicine.

There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.

Everything in excess is opposed to nature.

January 13, 2016

Wednesday with Words: On Keeping Positive

Sometimes, I tend towards the negative way of looking at things. Most days, our son tops me, by far, dragging me down.  We all  know someone like that, either in our family or circle of friends.  Negativity is draining - the opposite of a lightness that uplifts and helps us think on higher, better things.  

If someone is caught in a spiral of negative thinking, what can be done?  The best thing, by far, is to nip it in the bud.  As you see the first storm cloud gathering in your child's face, distract!  When you see a negative though creeping your way, distract!  (Once the thought is through the gateway, different measures are needed, and I'm not going to get into that here.)

Charlotte Mason wrote about the power of thoughts and distracting yourself several times in her books.  Perhaps in every volume, but I haven't checked.  I'm currently in Vol 4 (see last week's post), and here is what seems relevant to me regarding letting in positive instead of negative ideas.
We choose between Ideas.––It is well, however, to know what it is that we choose between. Things are only signs which represent ideas. Several times a day we shall find two ideas presented to our minds; and we must make our choice upon right and reasonable grounds. The things themselves which stand for the ideas may not seem to matter much; but the choice matters. Every such exercise makes personality the stronger; while it grows the weaker for every choice we shirk. Vol 4, Bk 2, pg 146
Will, the Instrument by which we appropriate Ideas.––But there are persons who never entertain the idea that presents itself, and who, therefore, form neither intention, purpose, nor resolution upon it––the persons who do not use their Will. And there are persons who deliberately will and choose to entertain harmful and injurious ideas; the thoughts of whose hearts are only evil continually, whose purposes, resolutions, are ever towards evil ends.   p. 165
The Postern to be Guarded.––The place to keep watch at, is, not the way of our particular sin, but that very narrow way, that little portal, where ideas present themselves for examination. Our falls are invariably due to the sudden presentation of ideas opposed to those which judgment and conscience, the porters at the gate, have already accepted.  p.166
And most obviously, here is Vol 4's best quote about changing your thoughts:
We do not struggle against, or argue down, or say bad things against the trespasser. By a conscious act of will, we simply and instantly think of something else––not something good and lofty, but something interesting, even something diverting; what we shall do on our next holiday, a story we are reading, a friend we mean to see, even a fly walking across the ceiling, is enough to think about; because any other occupation of the mind keeps out the insidious idea we would repel, and it has no power over us until it has been willingly admitted. p.168
She's not the only one, though.  Even Willie Nelson gets it. :)

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.
-Willie Nelson

When the negative thoughts come - and they will; they come to all of us - it's not enough to just not dwell on it... You've got to replace it with a positive thought.
-Joel Osteen


Do keep in mind, though, that looking for the positive side of something, or distracting yourself from something negative coming into your head, isn't the same as pretending bad things don't happen, or that you can fix the world by ignoring problems.  I think some people may not know the difference...

Many persons swear by positive thinking, and quite a few have been helped by it. Nevertheless, it is not a very effective tool and can be downright harmful in some cases.
-Srikumar Rao

Quotes discovered via http://www.brainyquote.com/

I'll leave you with this, from Vol 4. pg 165:

We know that what we do or say matters less than what we will; for the Will is the man, and it is out of many acts of willing that our character, our personality, comes forth.

January 12, 2016

Sensory Needs in Our Homeschool

Last week, I wrote a guest post for the Beautiful Chaos blog, ran by a fellow homeschool mom who follows the Charlotte Mason method and Ambleside Online curriculum.  I recorded video of our homeschool day, and in them you can clearly see how his sensory needs take priority during the day.

Some days he can sit still longer than others.  Some days he prefers rocking or swinging instead of spinning.  When possible, I get him to jump on the trampoline and swing before attempting school work, especially if anxiety is high.  How do you incorporate sensory regulation into your homeschool day?

If you'd like to see my 5 video clips (8-12 minutes each), please head over to my guest post in the CM Day in the Life series for links with descriptions, or click on them below.

Part 1  https://vimeo.com/150690178
Part 2  https://vimeo.com/150681365
Part 3  https://vimeo.com/150696826
Part 4  https://vimeo.com/150699923

Thanks for stopping by!

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop -- a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it's like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month's Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!

January 9, 2016

How I use Evernote - Part 3

What You've Missed
Part 1: Introduction to Evernote

Part 3: Homeschool record-keeping and exams

Now that you know how to collect and organize your homeschool resources in Evernote, what do you do once you've used those resources, or a term is over?  I'm going to attempt to answer that in this post.  

Weekly Wrap-Up

I do a weekly wrap-up (a la Simply Convivial/Work the Plan) for my household and for homeschool.  Each Friday afternoon when school is complete (or Thursday if Friday will be a field trip, or Saturday if Friday got too crazy), I take a photo of my weekly checklist within the Evernote (EN) app on my phone.  It syncs up and then I sit down to the computer to organize my EN Inbox.  While you can do that from your phone, and assign the picture directly to the Weekly Log notebook, I prefer to do it on the computer.  I usually have a few things in the default Inbox notebook by Friday, and take this time to look through them and move, delete, or edit those Notes.

I name the checklist with the AO year and week that was complete, perhaps adding an A or B if it was a partial week.  Sometimes I add other activities and happenings to the top of the note - field trips, illness, therapies, holidays - to keep everything handy in one spot.  I move the note to my Weekly Log notebook.   If you are keeping your checklist in a digital format, you may just keep it in your EN Inbox during the week and move it to Weekly Log, or even keep it in the Log notebook in the first place.

Along with the checklist, I photograph some written work - copywork, dictation, math - or maybe import some photos from a field trip for record-keeping.  I use the following tags currently - AOyear#, child name, subject(s) - to make things easily searchable should I need to find it someday. You could also add term or week #'s, but I haven't found that necessary yet.  If there is a resource that you will not need to access again, I would move it from Resources to Weekly Log and perhaps add a sentence or two at the top of that note saying how you used it and how it was helpful, especially if you have other kids coming up that may like it as well.  If it was not helpful, you may just delete the note all together.

As you can see below, you can have oodles of Tags.  To keep them organized, place a period before a tag with a group name.  Don't use that tag except as a place holder.  Drag related tags to the group tag (.School, for instance) and they will automatically sort in alphabetical order within the group.  Every once in a while, I go through the tags and if there's less than 5 notes with that tag I will consider renaming or removing that particular tag to keep the list from getting unwieldy.  Looks like its time to do that again!

My homeschool related tags, grouped under ".School"


As your AmblesideOnline term comes to a close, you will want to prepare for exams.  To save the labor of typing up my own from scratch, I go to the AO Exams page and use EN web clipper to save the term I need.  Make sure you also add the link to the Exam Key to your Exam note, or go ahead and copy or clip the key to its own note.

Exam note on EN app on iPhone 5.  
I leave it in my Inbox for editing and use, and tag like this: AO4, exams, child name.  I name it AO4, term 2 with the date in the format I use for everything (see picture above) to make it easily found by the search engine.  I read through the exam questions, making sure we covered all the information, and changing questions as needed.  I space it out and can type his answers as he gives them to me.  If I choose to record his reading, recitation or singing, I can add links to those audio notes to the exam note, as well as photos of his copywork, etc.  Evernote does have the ability to do audio recording directly into a note (via app or desktop), which is really handy for exams. 

Just tap within the note where you want the audio file, then click that  microphone icon on the bottom!
Example of audio clip in a note by itself, as seen on the computer

If you don't want to type out the answers, you can print out the exam after you have edited it and left space for handwriting answers.  Then you can type it up later, or just take a photo of the completed exam.  If you go into your Records notebook and type "exam" in the search box, you might see this:

Evernote highlights everywhere the search term appears, and narrows down the number of notes to look through considerably.

Once the exam is completed, double check that its tagged and named correctly and add it to your Records folder, along with the Weekly Log notes from the completed term or year. 

You can see examples of our previous exams- Time for Exams.  There are a couple different ones linked in that post, both stored in Evernote.  I made those particular notes public, but most of my notes are set to private.  I love that flexibility!

End-of-Year Record Archival

To keep the number of notes down, you can now Merge notes!  I wouldn't do a year at a time, but merging all the Weekly Log notes from a single term tagged with Math , for instance, into one note then moving it to Records would be efficient.  
Copywork from all of 1st grade, merged into a single note
If you take prefer to take pictures of physical work less often, you could just store it all up then go through it at end of term or end of year and photograph a variety of examples directly into a single note.

Evernote added linking features a year or two ago, and this is one use I have found for it.  When you have your various notes for a school year merged by subject and in order, link each of those notes into a Table of Contents.  (You could also place a symbol before the titles of these TOC notes to keep them on top of the other notes in that notebook, such as ! or *.) 

Please let me know in the comments if anything is unclear, or if you have a different way of using Evernote for your homeschool!  I hope you have found this series useful thus far.

Still to come: Part 4: Household and other uses

January 6, 2016

How I Use Evernote - Part 2

Read Part 1: Introduction first and follow the links provided so you are familiar with the terminology and basics of Evernote.  It will be time well spent.

How I Use Evernote - Part 2: Homeschool planning and Resources

I'm going to walk you through the elements of my planning for an AmblesideOnline year with Evernote, with some tech tips here and there.  Please do ask questions if something doesn't make sense to you!

The best thing about Evernote is that I can save everything in there and not run out of space.  At least, I haven't run out yet, after five years of homeschool planning and using its storage for all aspects of my life.  This means you can research as much as you want, anywhere you want and still find it when you want it later.  Even if you aren't good at using Notebooks and Tags in Evernote, the search function is amazing and can even read your handwriting.  No joke.  You can take notes at the homeschool conference, come home and take pictures straight into Evernote.  The next time you look up the subject or keyword of that conference, it will be there for you. Although sloppy cursive does confuse it somewhat. :)

Now, my basic homeschool plan is already laid out for me at Ambleside Online.  I do save the pages for the upcoming year into EN, for ease of finding while I'm out and about, and just in case the site goes down.  It is SO easy using Web Clipper.  This is a free browser extension that allows you to save an article, section, or entire web page directly into EN, even letting you choose the Notebook and Tags without leaving your browser.

Go ahead and download Web Clipper, and give it a go by clipping this blog post.  See, isn't that fun!  Now tag it as "how-to" and put in your Homeschool notebook.  Just kidding, you can delete the Note.

Now on to the specifics!

First, I pull up the schedule for the year (let's use year 5, as that's the next one for us).  I save the 36-week Detailed Schedule page into EN using WebClipper.  Then I open EN and edit the text in the note, if needed - taking out any book or subject we won't be doing, for instance.  I also save the PDF schedule or any other format I want to have on hand.

You can save all the file formats into EN, then open them from there!  This keeps me from having to use complicated file storage structures on my computer, and keeps space freed up as well.  I just download the file, then drag it into the EN note for the year's schedule, but you could make a separate note for each file format you want. You cannot, however, edit the Word doc, PDF or other files in EN.  When you go to open it, it will basically re-download it to your computer.  If you will be accessing it regularly for editing, just keep it on the computer and back it up to EN when your plans are finalized.

Next, I go to the Art, Composer, Folk and Hymn pages, highlight the text for the upcoming school-year and save the selections with WebClipper.  For Composer in Term 1 of 2016-17 school year, that would look like this:

the browser page while clipping
my Evernote window after clipping and syncing - the highlighted words I added to show that editing is simple

As I gather information about the composer - a wiki bio, a link to a book, a photo, or my music options -  I can paste that in the same note, just below the AO information.  Typically, music links and the like are already linked by AO and are handy there (web clipper keeps the links in your note), but if I want something more or different, I just add to it!  Repeat for each subject in each term and collect all of this in your Resource notebook.

Some people might prefer a resource notebook for each school year.  I prefer fewer notebooks and more tags, so I have a single Resource notebook within the Homeschool stack (see below).  If a resource is for one year, it will have the corresponding tag (AO5, in this case).  If it will be for multiple years (or perhaps if you have multiple children in different years and want them all to use it the same time), you just put several tags on it.  For instance,  Parables from Nature is used in years 1-3, so information on that book would get tagged 'AO1', 'AO2' and 'AO3'.  This is great for forward planning.  If I'm already in the current school year, I may add the note into the Current School Year notebook.  (Or not.  I just search anyway to find stuff most of the time, but its nice to have a general idea of where your stuff goes.)

I have a Homeschool stack (which I think of as a shelf filled with Notebooks, which in turn get filled with Notes) with the following Notebooks in it:
  • Book Lists - AO lists, bookmark schedules, ideas for holiday reads, etc.
  • Current School Year - progress reports, exams, notes on books, local opportunities
  • Curriculum - curriculum ideas, alternate schedules, actual curriculum PDFs
  • Homeschool Other - school supply lists, inspiration, whatever
  • Records (from past years) - you can move "current school year" items here when its over!
  • Resources - ideas past, present and future for both local places to visit and online sites
  • State Requirements - the legal stuff
  • Weekly Log - where I store the photos or our completed weekly checklists, math sheets, copywork samples.  At the end of a term or year, this would combined into a larger note and get moved to Records
So, I gather and plan and dream, then as it all comes together I can make detailed daily plans.  This year I have a weekly checklist with suggested days on it, and a separate daily reading list on the back, as you see in these photos.  I like having it right in front of me with my dry erase pencil, but you could do the same thing in EN, using the check-boxes and saving that note each week into the Weekly Log notebook. Or printing it out from EN, and daily logging what actually happened into EN and saving that into the Log.  Or, you could do a Daily Checklist for each child or for the family as a whole, in EN, and reference that.  (You would want an iThing, though, so you aren't tied to the computer.) There really are many possibilities!  
Our weekly checklist, done in Excel, because I haven't figure out how to do columns well in EN yet
Another way I have done it is to put each day of the entire term in to one note.  Then you can print out however much of it at a time you need.  Here is a shot of this method:

I think this has gotten quite long enough!  Let me know your questions and I'll try to answer them in the next post.

Upcoming -

Part 3: Homeschool record-keeping and exams
Part 4: Household and other uses

Wednesday with Words: Charlotte Mason's Ourselves

We are down to the last few weeks of Ourselves, which is the fourth volume of Charlotte Mason's educational series.  Not only that, but its the last of the 6 volumes to be finished!  Over at the AO forum, we've been working through them for just over 2 years.

Here are some quotes that struck me this week. They are from Book IIPart II: The Will, Chapters 1-6.
It is well we should face the possibility of living without the exercise of will, in order that we may will and make our choice.  Shall we live this aimless, drifting life, or shall we take upon us the responsibility of our lives, and will as we go?      p.128
It is not safe to take success in life as a criterion. His Will is the measure of the man; and many a man has become rich or famous without willing, on the easy lines of his nature, by the strength of his desires while many another of constant will lives unknown and yet it is the persons of constant will, which implies impersonal aims, who are the world's great possession, and are discerned to be such.  p.132
The simple, rectified Will, what our Lord calls 'the single eye,' would appear to be the one thing needful for straight living and serviceableness.  p. 138
As has been said, a great secret of the art of living is to be able to pass the t tempting by-paths and strike ahead.  p. 139
Living means more than the happenings of one day after another.  We must understand in order to will. "How is it that ye will not understand?" said our Lord...  p. 142
But the same thing repeats itself: great occasions do not come to us at any time of our lives; or, if they do, they come in the guise of little matters of every day.  Let us be aware of this.  The 'great' sphere for our Will is in ourselves.  Our concern with life is to be fit, and according to our fitness come the occasions and the uses we shall be put to.  To preserve Mansoul from waste, to keep every province in order - that, and not efforts in the outside world, is the business of Will.  p.142 
The Labour of Choice. We are usually ready enough to choose between things, though some of us shirk even that responsibility.   p.143
Every man and woman who does not live in the continual thoughtful exercise of a temperate will, is more or less of a lay figure, pulled by the strings of other people's opinions.  p.144
No doubt there are many choices to make, but they come one by one, and there is always the time to choose.  p.146
There would not seem o be much difference between the two courses [allowance and choice]; but most ruined lives and ruined families are the result of letting allowance do duty for will-choice.  p.147

And finally...
The ideas we admit become our opinions; the opinions upon which we take action become our principles; our principles and our opinions are ourselves, our character, the whole of us for which we are responsible.  p.150

January 3, 2016

How I Use Evernote - Part 1

I have been thinking of doing some posts on Evernote for a year or so.  With some encouragement from my AO friends, I decided now was the time.  I'm not sure how many parts there will be, but I won't drag it out longer than necessary, promise! Here is Part 1- Introduction. 

I am a fan of being highly-organized.  I do not always succeed at keeping things that way, but its an on-going goal of mine.  Everything in its place and a place for everything.  When Grandma says that, she was thinking about the scissors, clothes and papers, but these days, there is more to organize, and much of that is digital.  Enter Evernote.

Evernote is a free, multi-platform application that performs as a place to capture all things digital, or anything you can make digital by scanning or photographing.  I learned about it through reading free eBooks and following Mystie at Simplified Organization.  She's a homeschooling mom and had traveled this road just ahead of me, so I gleaned what I could from her, then made it my own.  After I had been using these methods a couple of years, Mystie came out with a series about Homeschooling with Evernote.  I picked up a few more tidbits that way, and do recommend you read through those posts for more ideas.

To start with, set up your free Evernote account and install the app on the devices you find useful.   There are several levels beyond Basic (free) now, but you don't need to pay to get a lot of use out of this program. We are almost entirely a Mac/Apple family, so I have Evernote (EN) on my Mac desktop, iPad and iPhone, and all 3 are on the same account. I have most of my Notebooks synced, but you don't have to use it that way.  This keeps all my information available, no matter where I am - even if I don't have any of my devices, I can login to a browser anywhere for access.  I don't use it often from my iPad, but there are times that comes in handy.  I use it most often from my desktop, and secondly from my phone, mainly when importing photos or looking at my book lists while shopping.

Next, learn the basics.  Here are some good places to start, some already mentioned above.

Evernote Unleashed (free on Kindle, have not read)
Evernote GTD (Getting Things Done) for Kindle

Blog series
GTD at Home for Moms series
Use Evernote for Homeschool Planning

Finally, start utilizing it in several ways and get in the habit of entering information and looking there for information.  Once you are at this stage, you will start seeing new possibilities of how EN can work for different aspects of your life.

Tentative plan for this Evernote series

Part 2: Homeschool planning and resources
Part 3: Homeschool record-keeping and exams
Part 4: Household and other uses