How to use Evernote for Creative Workflow

By externalizing your ideas in a variety of formats — text, sketches, photos, videos, documents, diagrams, webclips, hyperlinks — you create a system of distributed cognition across “artifacts” that can be moved, edited, rearranged, and combined.

Richard Feynman put it best:

“You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, “How did he do it? He must be a genius!”

Design is always about balancing priorities — in this case: comprehensiveness and compression.

The way to balance these competing priorities is to:

* Progressively summarize the most important points of a source in small stages (compression), and…

* Preserve each of these stages in layers that can be peeled back on demand (comprehensiveness).

Stages of Compression – keep all in note (with link)

1. Save any notes at all (highlights imported into evernote)

2. Bolding good parts of notes in Evernote

3. Highlighting BEST bolded parts in Evernote

4. Taking your own notes, summary, etc

Compressing your notes in this way has an interesting effect: it makes them more valuable to you, but less valuable to others. In other words, this information is highly “situated” in your mental context.


In this system, I know that any source with notes attached is at Layer 1, any bolded parts indicate Layer 2, and any highlights indicate Layer 3. As long as I stay consistent with this much simpler and more natural system, I’ll know how much thinking has been done at any point in the future.

Connect everything to your “12 Problems” --> these change over time as you interact with the world

That is next-level productivity right there. Knowing not only how to get things done, but what is worth doing in the first place.