In an “Information Age,” being able to instantly trap information that’s important to you, easily retrieve and edit that information, and share that information with others is no small thing.

When I was in college, a loose-leaf notebook and good ball point pen served as the tools. We didn’t have PowerPoint presentations from the professor. We didn’t have the ability to augment our notes with snippets from the Internet. There was no long URL to write down with 100% accuracy.

Tools Change. Principles Endure.

I’ve written before about notetaking in the academic world. The notes taken in class must be seen as a “draft.” That draft is best taken on paper. Within a day, clean up and enter those notes in the notebook. In today’s digital world, Evernote serves as an excellent place to put them.

Notes, Notebooks, and Stacks

In Evernote, a “notebook” is like the loose-leaf notebook of the analog world. A “note” is like a piece of paper in a notebook. A “stack” is a collection of notebooks. Think of it like a shelf in a bookcase.

If today was the first day of the term, start by creating a notebook for each class, each one named with the name of the class. Next, combine all notebooks for this term into one “stack” and name it something like “Fall 2020.”

Let each class meeting be a “note.” Each note is automatically date-stamped. What goes in the note? Key in the notes just as you would write them in a paper notebook. Use the numbered list or bullet point options to produce an outline. Use the bold, italic, and other standard word processing options. Evernote has them too. Enter links to other reference material. Because each note has its own URL, you can link from one note to any other note.

Did the professor provide a link to a PowerPoint presentation? Download it to the computer and then simply drag it into that note. Your notes from that class meeting and the PowerPoint are now in the same place. Have some audio from a lecture? Drag it into the same note. Drag photos related to the lecture into the note.

Two Heads are Better Than One

Is a friend taking the same class? One of you can create a notebook and “share” it with the other. Work on each note collaboratively. (You just can’t make changes to the same note at the same time.) Gone are the days of laying sheets of paper on a copying machine and giving them to your friend. Let Evernote keep the notebook and everything in it in perfect sync.

“Shared with me” is a mess

One of the common questions among Google Drive users is, “How do I organize the ‘Shared with me’ area. It’s a mess.” It always is a mess, because these aren’t your documents. They’re someone else’s that are shared with you. The closest you can come to organizing them in folders is to create shortcuts. If you’re going to do that, it’s just as easy to link to them from Evernote.

Incredible Search Capabilities

Looking for something in particular? Search Evernote. Search the entire thing or limit the search to a certain notebook, a certain timeframe, a search within the title only, or any combination of the above. Evernote returns the results instantly. Evernote even searches for text within a PDF or a picture.

The ability to trap and store valuable information has always been important. The tools for how to do those things gets better. Evernote has been around for 10 years and only continues to improve. If you are a college student, or anyone who stores and needs to retrieve information, take a look at Evernote. Get started here for free.