I am loving Evernote. I had an account with Evernote for a couple years, but I confess I didn’t see the benefits & uses at the time, so I didn’t start using it. Then I read a post by Michael Hyatt on how he uses Evernote, and it opened my eyes to the possibilities. Since then, Evernote has become one of my absolute favorite tools.
It’s really useful on on a personal level — I keep my budget there, gift lists, etc. But in this post, I’ll talk about how I’m using it professionally in my ministry work. Here’s what I’m doing with it, and how it’s making my life easier as a pastor:
1. Filing speaking illustrations.
I started filing illustrations years ago. I’d save them in a huge folder labeled illustrations… then never use them. The problem isn’t filing them, it’s finding them when you need them! Evernote makes it possible to do that. I use the Evernote Web Clipper, or type it into my phone, put it in my “Preaching” notebook, and tag it “illustration.” Then I quickly type category/topic words that will help me find it later, like temptation, spiritual warfare, Satan, attitude, faith, etc. During sermon prep time, I can search, and up pops the perfect story or statistic.
2. Keeping random church info accessible.
Jail hours, church vehicle insurance cards & tags, my marriage credentials file # for Oklahoma Co., the postage price for sending a Bible to an inmate, tax exemption numbers, printer cartridge numbers for replacement.
3. Church Vehicle maintenance records
One of those weird sets of details that small-church pastors have to track. When was it I changed this oil? What kind of filter did the van take? When did I last rotate the tires? Evernote makes it possible to keep these things handy.
4. Organizing church plant research info
Researching for a church plant is time-consuming. Being able to find and use what you discovered is a challenge, too. Evernote makes it easier. Using the Evernote Clipper Chrome extension, find demographic info, interesting city info, helpful ideas for launch, etc… then simply clip the “simplified page” into your evernote.
5. Counseling & discipleship Records
What was it I said to my counselees last week? What assignment did I ask them to complete? The more of these details I can get out of my head, the less I have to carry around — which frees my mind for work on what is really important. So, I type out my notes from counseling, tag it, and next week when they are on the way, I pull it up, and make my plan for this session.
6. After Action Reports (AARs)
Each year, I used to sit down and try to remember what it was we did last year, and what we said we needed to do to improve this year. After you do something, you sit down with 2-3 idea people and dissect it, type out everything that went right, what went wrong, and what you’re going to do about it. Next year when that event come back around, you’ll have a list of how to improve. This is HUGE.
7. Board meeting minutes
Every word in every note in Evernote is searchable. I have my board secretary type all board meeting minutes into Evernote. So you know that you discussed and voted on a project to spend $$ on a remodel of the food pantry ministry, but can’t remember the details? Search, and presto — you have the info you need at your fingertips.
8. Pictures of ministry improvement ideas.
When you visit another church who does something really well, take a picture of it in evernote, tag it with “Church ideas” and add a few category words. Review this category every couple months, and you’ll have a never-ending supply of ways you can incrementally improve.
9. Work systems.
I write out checklists of every step I take in a work project, and make that my checklist for how to do it next time. Evernote makes it quickly editable, easily accessible, and check-off-able (hey look — a new word!).
10. Personal devotions
To keep my personal prayer time fresh, I am always adding things. I keep my prayer list in Evernote. It lets me easily add things, delete things, have it always accessible on my phone, print out a hard copy, and more. When a prayer is answered, I add that, and move it to my answered prayers section of my prayer list.
And best of all? It’s free. At least it is for me, right now.
I’ll eventually upgrade to Evernote Pro, but for now the free version works for me. You don’t have to have the paid version for it to be an incredibly helpful tool in your professional life.