Tag Archives: productivity

30 Tips for New Seminarians

Here is my humble attempt at giving advice to new seminarians. I am beginning my second semester of doctoral studies. I thought it may be beneficial to write out (from a current students perspective and one that recently finished his Masters) some of the things I wished I would have known before beginning seminary. This is a slightly revised post that I wrote a couple years ago. It is by no means exhaustive and I didn’t necessarily order them in any particular way. If you have any questions/comments or anything to add let me know.

  1. Prayer/Contemplation. One of the most difficult aspects of life, at least for me, is silence and prayer. As a student life gets busy. Generally, you are not only a student but also a spouse/parent and work some type of job. The busyness of life can block dealing with the aches and pains of the soul. It also allows you to become dependent on yourself, striving to do better, and not reflect and thank our Father for his many gifts. Our hearts become hard when we do not reflect on the state of our soul and point our eyes to the Father above.
  2. Read the Bible. If you are going to seminary you will probably be teaching and preaching the Bible when you get out. Read the Bible for all different purposes: devotionally, for knowledge, academically, and many others. If your discipline involves the languages, then consistently read in Greek or Hebrew so you don’t lose all the hard work you put in to learn them.
  3. Plan your study time. When I first began my seminary career I would sit down each week and schedule out exactly what assignments and reading I needed to be working on. I also set out blocks of time with specific tasks associated with them. When it was time for me to study I just got out the schedule and knew exactly what I was working on. This not only made my study time more productive but it also kept me on track throughout the semester. Later in my degree I stopped doing this for some reason. I suddenly became more scatterbrained and less focused. This semester I am back on track and am already reaping the benefits. I found doing this at the beginning of each week allowed me to modify my schedule throughout the semester.
  4. Library. Get to know all the resources at the library and utilize them. Here at Southern the research experts can pretty much answer any question you throw at them. There is also a wealth of tutorials and workshops to help you research and write better. See my posts here and here explaining some of the resources offered at Southern. I can’t stress this enough. The library is your friend not just because it has the books you need but because the people there are knowledgeable and there to help.
  5. Write early write often. Writing is one of the best ways to articulate your thoughts on different subjects. My doctoral supervisor, Dr. Jonathan Pennington, advises to “park on a downhill slope.” By this he means when you are finishing a writing day begin the next section you will be writing. Jot some ideas down that need to be addressed. Next time you sit down to write your brain will have a jumpstart. Also, begin thinking and writing about a topic at the start of the class and don’t wait till the end of the semester. Not only will your paper not be as good (even if you can get an A!) but you will not get the most out of it. Another advantage to writing early is the editing process. I would venture to guess that most students who begin their papers at the end of the semester actually turn in a first draft. Write, edit, write, edit, write, edit…
  6. Write even if it is not for a paper. Augustine says, “…by writing I have myself learned much that I did not know.” We learn by writing and getting ideas out on paper. It helps us formulate thoughts and put them into concrete ideas rather than abstract thoughts. Seminary is not a time just to work on getting good grades. You want to be a well rounded pastor/teacher/scholar/missionary so write on all different topics.
  7. Learn how to use bibliography software. This will save you tons of time when writing a paper. Instead of formatting by hand every reference in your paper the software does it for you. It also stores all your references so you can use them in the future. And better yet, there are browser plugins that allow you to search for the book online, click a button, and all the information is gathered for you. Ryan Vasut has written an extremely helpful guide to getting started with Zotero. And guess what? Zotero is free.
  8. Learn how to use software to be more productive. Evernote is a great app for organizing notes and research. It can be intimidating because it can do so much. (shameless plug!) This is why I wrote my Evernote for Academics series to help students get started using Evernote. Also, check out my other site, Techademic, for other helpful articles and screencasts to be more productive in your studies.
  9. Take the languages early and often. Not only is this vital for any pastor or teacher’s tool belt but it also allows you to slow down and look more closely at the biblical text in both Greek/Hebrew and English. It is hard work but well worth it. Once you take the languages consistently read in them as well. You will begin to get more proficient the more you read. Personally, I find it best to set a time goal rather than a verse goal. In the beginning set a goal of 5–10 minutes a day and gradually build on that. In my experience, when you set your goal via verses or chapters you can get stuck on a verse and spend more time than planned trying to make your way through it.
  10. If married, make your spouse a priority. Love them, serve them, and enjoy them. Don’t talk about seminary all the time! Your spouse is probably interested in you, which also makes them interested in the things you are interested in. But it is likely they do not want to hear about the details of the Greek verb, or the complexities of the Trinity, or even about the Synoptic problem. And please, please, don’t try to teach them Greek (unless of course they really want you too).
  11. Think ahead. Plan your classes ahead of time. Make a base schedule then deviate from that. Know how many electives you have and don’t waste them.
  12. Read, read, read. Get your reading finished early. Don’t try to cram it all at the end. See above for scheduling.
  13. Get up early. I find mornings to be the most productive time.
  14. Read people you disagree with. When writing a paper, interact with others who you disagree with. Not only will your paper be better, but also you will learn to think more critically. This should be a given but, sadly, in many contexts this is not emphasized enough.
  15. Review your notes often.
  16. Research for papers early! This is similar to my earlier writing advice, but you need to research early. If you have the syllabus, then begin thinking about topics before the semester starts. Schedule a time to meet with the professor to discuss paper ideas. Researching early also gives you a head start on finding key resources. Towards the end of the semester, you will find that many of the books you need will already be checked out.
  17. Get to know the professors. Talk in class. Ask them out for coffee or lunch.
  18. Community Community Community. Get to know other students around you. Everyone is in this together. Community does not just form by itself. You must be intentional. When I was a MDiv student, I was intentional about getting to know, now some of by best friends, students who were ahead of me. Their constant encouragement and knowledge of their studies grew into deeper friendships.
  19. Church. Join a church, fellowship with believers, and join some type of community group. Don’t feel that you have to be a super student and be overly involved in your Church. See where the Church needs help and devote a small amount of time with that. Your calling now is seminary. Focus on that.
  20. Discuss research ideas with other students. You are all in this together. Help each other. Brainstorm together. Your paper will not only be better but you will become a better student as well.
  21. Syllabus. The professors know they have to provide the syllabus. Don’t email and bug them about this. It will be available online soon enough.
  22. Don’t feel like you have to do all the extras. On my campus, you could be busy doing extras almost everyday of the week. You are here for school—that is your priority.
  23. Stay off social media when doing homework and reading. It is distracting and not profitable for learning. You know this. I know this. Turn off the phone, turn off the Wi-Fi, and focus on your studies.
  24. Read the church fathers. See my post here for my thoughts on this.
  25. Take the hard classes. You only get to learn here once, so challenge yourself. You will be a better teacher/pastor because of it.
  26. Be on time when meeting with professors and other faculty. This should be self-explanatory.
  27. Email the TA/Grader for logistical questions, not the professor.
  28. Grading. Realize that in many of the introductory courses the professor will not grade your homework or even your papers. This is why they have competent and smart graders. It can, at first, be disheartening to realize that your professor is not reading some of your assignments in your introductory classes. But you should realize that many of your teachers have other courses along with Doctoral students too. As you progress through your degree and begin to take more focused courses, you will have more hands on interaction with your teachers.
  29. Try handwritten notes. Personally, I have found it beneficial to take hand-written notes in many of my classes. By doing this it aids in retention and memorization. It is also less distracting. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and blogs cannot be viewed on paper. You can find a list of articles concerning this topic here.
  30. Exercise. I have found that when I do this I am more focused, less tired, and feel better all around. Sadly, I do not do this enough.

I am sure there is much wiser and sound advice out there. If you have any just add them in the comments!

Quickly Paste Bible References Using Accordance or Logos Bible Software

Often times when you are working on a project that includes bible references you will want to actually quote the bible verse. Generally the workflow would include opening up your bible software of choice, searching for the reference, and then copying and pasting that reference into the document. There is actually a quicker way to do this through the use of services on the Mac. Services allow apps to communicate in the background and do some basic functionality from that particular app. In the two videos below I show you how to use both Accordance and Logos Bible Software’s services to quickly retreive the text of a bible reference all with a simple keyboard shortcut without leaving your word processor.

Accordance has more robust services to offer:

  1. Insert verses – this service pastes the text from your default resource
  2. Insert verses from any text – this service allows you to choose the resource that you want to paste from
  3. Search for words – allows you to highlight a word (in any app) and search for it in Accordance
  4. Search with options – same as above but you get to choose what resource(s) you search from
  5. View verses – opens up Accordance to the verse you highlighted

In order to download Accordance’s service go here.

Logos Bible Software offers two services:

  1. Copy Bible Verses – opens up Logos to the copy bible verses module. At the time of writing I think this has a bug as I can not get it to work correctly
  2. Replace with passage – pastes the bible verse of the highlighted reference

For each of these services you can add keyboard shortcuts from the System Preferences. Note: If you have trouble getting this to work in some apps such as Pages then try changing the keyboard shortcut. If there are duplicate keyboard shortcuts for two different commands then both of them will not work.

New User Guides for Drafts and Evernote

One of the best ways to get content into Evernote is through an excellent little app called Drafts. I’ve written about Drafts and Evernote before in my Evernote for Academics series. Granted, with the advent of iOS 8 you can now use the Evernote widget to start a document but if your just inputting text then Drafts is still better (as in cleaner, easier to use, faster, more options, etc.)

Brett Kelly, who wrote the excellent Evernote Essentials[1] ebook has written some helpful guides to using Drafts and Evernote.

If you are looking for some other helpful ways of getting content into Evernote check out my third post in the Evernote for Academics series.


  1. Seriously, if you’re looking for a comprehensive primer for getting started with Evernote then look no further.  ↩

Adding Email Messages to Evernote via EverMail

ChungwaSoft has produced a couple handy tools for Mail.app on the Mac. I was first introduced to CargoLifter and SendLater by Katie Floyd in the Mac Power Users podcast. Each of these add-ons contributes some nice little features to Mail. For example, instead of sending large attachments in an email CargoLifter will allow you to easily upload them and provide a link to whichever cloud service you prefer (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, Droplr, etc.). SendLater allows you to send an email later (as long as your email client on the computer is still open). This is useful if I need to send out an email in a couple days because I can go ahead and write it and set it to automatically send it at the time I want. I can also avoid the impression that I am always reading and responding to an email. If someone sends me an email and it isn’t urgent I will just set it to send in a couple hours. This is especially useful if I am processing email for work at night in order to give the impression that I am available 24/7.

Enter EverMail. EverMail allows you to quickly and easily send your emails to Evernote. Now don’t get me wrong it is already pretty convenient to use the Evernote email address. But a couple things occur that I do not like. For example, it adds an extra forwarded email in your mailbox. Also, in the Evernote note it includes “FWD:” both in the title and the message. I realize that you can remove it but it is just annoying. EverMail changes all that. Along with what you can traditionally do with forwarding an email you can also easily send to specific notebooks, tags, and add reminders. 

Check out the short video I made to show some of the features of EverMail.

You can purchase EverMail here and they are offering 25% off by using the coupon code: YOSEMITE. I’m not affiliated with ChungwaSoft in any way and purchased this software on my own.

∞ On being “productive”

I eagerly evaluate every new productivity solution that shows up because I truly want them to be “the one,” but after doing this for over a decade, I’m certain the tool isn’t the problem. I am. Where the innovation needs to occur is not within Asana, Things, or Workflowy, it’s with how I choose to spend my time. It’s developing a well defined protocol for myself regarding maintaining my to-do list, and then religiously following this protocol and consistently investing my time.

Indeed, it’s not the tools that make us productive but following and doing a system that is consistent. Some tools help this endeavor but merely having a certain app doesn’t accomplish anything. 

Read the whole thing here

Evernote for Academics: Guest Post – Madison Pierce on Using Evernote for Research and Writing

 Madison Pierce is a PhD Candidate in New Testament at Durham University working on the Book of Hebrews. 

Introduction

Before I get started, it’s important to get a confession out of the way: I was an Evernote naysayer. It’s true. About a year ago, Evernote was prescribed by my boss, and I could not get the hang of it. I had a very set way of working, and Evernote was not working for me. I gave it a second look about 5 month ago when I realized I needed a more flexible note-taking system for my PhD. Thankfully, when I returned, I realized that many of my largest issues (e.g., only one tier of filing, when I wanted at least two) had been remedied. I immediately went to work making Evernote work for me.

So here’s how I use Evernote…

Getting Material into Evernote

It is fairly common for people to house their pdfs in Evernote; I don’t. I use Evernote only for “clips”––the most pertinent information that I am fairly certain I will need for a project I have on the horizon. When developing my workflow, the most important thing to me was speed. It was important to me to be able to get information into Evernote without disrupting the flow of my reading/research too much. For this reason, I developed an “Unfiled” folder (much like Brian’s “Inbox”). My default on my phone and computer is for items to go into this folder. Then, when I open Evernote to do some work with my notes, I can quickly move things around and get them where they belong.

On my computer, I use the Evernote Helper in my menu bar of my Mac.  I clip anything from a bibliographic entry to a paragraph, but I always make sure to include the source, so I can go from these notes to a completed paper with little more than Evernote, my word processor, and reference software open.

On my phone, I take pictures with the document camera of my pertinent information (which are of a great quality). This is my using MO when I’m reading a good old-fashioned book. I keep Evernote open and reading and make clip notes of the biblio info. (A great feature in the iPhone app is the autofill for the titles of notes. It makes this really quick!)

Organizing Evernote Material

When I’m reading to start serious work on a project, I make a Notebook for it. Every notebook in my Evernote is a project. For my thesis, I have made a notebook for each chapter, and then created a Stack for the whole project.

When I’ve developed an outline for my project (usually a paper), I create tags for each section, and then I tag notes for every topic to which they might contribute. Then, when I write that section, I select the correct tag, and the only notes I see are those relevant to my current work. I love this feature because it helps me not to get overloaded with the mounds of research I’ve collected. I always research a while before writing (against the advice of many), but that’s what works for me and how Evernote contributes.

Here’s a preview from a recent paper on the Dead Sea Scrolls:

 

As you can see, my tags are simple but intuitive for my section headings. This paper was a little more rushed than usual but Evernote made it a snap!

Thanks Madison for this great post! I will definitely be implementing your tagging system on my next paper.

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Links to other posts in the Evernote for Academics Series

Evernote for Academics: Day 06 – Research Workflows

We finally made it to Day 6 of the Evernote for Academics series. Today I will briefly cover some ideas that you can use in your research. Tomorrow, I will have a guest post on how one student uses Evernote in her research workflow.

Using Evernote as one central hub when doing a research project is one of the most powerful and useful ways that I use Evernote. I find the combination of the ease of getting things in, searching, and availibility on all my devices the perfect combination when using Evernote.

Getting Your Research Into Evernote

In a previous post I discussed a variety of ways of importing anything and everything in Evernote. Today I want to dive in a little deeper and look at some specific ways that I find helpful when conducting research.

One of the keys to my research workflow strategy is only importing items that are pertinent to research. This means I make liberal use of the Evernote clipper when dealing with PDFs and other articles that are already on my computer. Instead of importing the whole resource I clip the sections that I want to use. This way when I am writing I am not bogged down searching endlessly through pages and pages of writing that I will not use. I created a video in a previous post showing how I use Skitch for this purpose.

Below I will cover to more methods that I use to get specific information into Evernote.

Mobile App

I find the mobile app to be indespensible in my research workflow. It allows me to digitize my physical books and articles quickly and easily. Along with easily being able to get pertinent copies into my notebooks it also allows the ability to search these documents as well.

The mobile app has a camera feature that allows you to capture high quality images of both typed and written work. You could use the default camera on your phone but using the camera feature within Evernote tends to produce higher quality images for documents and allows you to quickly make a new note on the go. Once you have captured your image you can annotate it within the mobile app for future reference.

Often times I often prefer taking hand written notes when reading. Evernote has the ability to capture your hand written notes via the camera and create a searchable note (premium users only). It is suprisingly accurate. I don’t have the neatest hand writing and I still find that it is able to search my notes with a high degree of accuracy.

Saving Kindle Highlights

One of the most useful features of the Kindle is the ability to search through all your highlights at once. You can access your highlights via the web by going to https://kindle.amazon.com/your_highlights.

Once I get to my highlights I use the Evernote web clipper. Once I find the highlight(s) that I want to import I use the “screenshot” option and then crop the pertinent section.

Conclusion

Today I covered some methods that I find helpful for getting specific research into Evernote for later. Tomorrow our guest post will feauture how one student has developed a specific workflow for research. Stay tuned! It is a good one.

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

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Evernote for Academics: Day 05 – School

Thanks for coming back for the fifth post in the Evernote for Academics. Today I am going to discuss some of the ways that you can use Evernote in school. In the next post I will address using the program for research papers/projects. Since both of these use cases are very similar I will try to address different aspects in each post.

Evernote can really be a one-stop shop for school. I find the following three aspects of Evernote most useful for school:

  1. Availability/sync on any device
  2. Ability to deal with multiple file formats in one note
  3. Keyboard shortcuts

Availability/sync on any device

If you are at all familiar with Evernote you know that this is one of its greatest strengths. Their slogan “remember everything” is made possible because you can have Evernote wherever you are at. The ability to have all your school files and projects in one central location is very handy when in school.

At the beginning of the semester add all your files for each class in separate notebooks (including syllabus, handouts, misc files, etc). This way all your files are in one central location and searchable.

Ability to deal with multiple file formats in one note

Evernote can handle virtually any type of file that you throw at it. This is great, especially when taking notes in class. You can have audio, links, pdfs, images, and much more in one note. Let’s examine how this can be helpful in class:

Audio in the classroom

Evernote has the ability to record audio within the app. This will allow you to record the lecture and have it coincide with your notes. Personally, if I am recording a lecture I will stop when the professor changes topics. This way I can have short audio snippets aligned with my notes. This way when I am reviewing for an exam I can listen to the audio and not waste time by finding the exact point of the lecture in a 60 minute audio clip.

Images in the classroom

I find two helpful use cases of using images within notes. If the professor is using a projector but doesn’t give access to the slides if there is an important slide with a chart, graph or image you can quickly take out your phone and take a picture and include it in your notes.

Another helpful use case is when the professor is referencing one of your textbooks you can quickly take a picture in the Evernote app of that specific text and import it within your note. When you are studying later you can just look at your notes instead of fishing through the textbook to try to find that exact location.

Links

Often times the professor will give out website, book, or article recommendations. Using Evernote you can quickly create a clickable link of that resource right within your note for quick access later.

Due to a limitation in Evernote the following tip only works in conjunction with a text editor called Byword. It allows you to write with a distraction free screen in Markdown. I mentioned this in a previous post but Markdown is a language similar to HTML but is much simpler and designed to be readable. I write most of my text in this language and then export it to Evernote. The reason is two-fold: 1) I prefer to write in an app like Byword because it just presents a blank screen that is less distracting 2) Writing in Markdown allows me to focus on the text but not the formatting. Using an app like Byword you can still use your normal keyboard shortcuts for basic formatting (i.e. Command+B for bold text) and not have to remember the syntax. Click here for overview of the basic Markdown syntax. See this video for a quick introduction to Markdown.

I also find it helpful to link certain names and topics to an encyclopedia or dictionary article in Logos. Logos has the ability to create URLs that take you directly to a certain location in a resource. In my church history course when a name, event, or location was mentioned that I was unfamiliar with I would look it up in Logos and create a hyperlink to that resource for later. See video below on how to create a Logos link.

Handouts/PDFs

If a professor provides handouts of a topic you can quickly add that to you note. You can do this a couple different ways. First, you can include the PDF inline with your notes. Depending on the length of the PDF and how you have Evernote set up this could be useful. This works best if you have the option to view PDFs and other documents as attachments, which you can change in the settings. Personally, I prefer to have the PDFs appear inline, which just means that you can read it right there on the screen when you open the note and not click on the attachment. In this scenario I actually create a new note with the PDF and create a hyperlink to that note (similar to the Logos URL above). In order to create a hyperlink in a note you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Opt+Command+C (Mac) or on Windows and Mac right-click the not and click Copy Note Link.

If you receive paper handouts you can quickly take a picture using the document camera in the Evernote app on your mobile device and sync it with your notes.

Keyboard Shortcuts

By knowing the Evernote keyboard shorts it will save you a lot of time when formatting your document on the fly in the classroom. Below are some the keyboard shortcuts for Evernote. I highlighted some of my most used shortcuts that you may find useful (click to expand).

For a complete list of keyboard shortcuts see below:

Quick Tips

  • Use individual notebooks for each class and create an Evernote stack for the semester
  • Use simple tags to stay organized (notes, homework, syllabus, etc.).
  • Use the to-do feature to plan your week and projects. Make sure to hyperlink to specific notes for quick reference later.
  • To get the most out of the semester be sure to put all your files and notes in Evernote for easy searching and so nothing gets lost. 

Adding Links to Logos Resources in Evernote

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

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Evernote for Academic: Day 03 – Getting Your Stuff Into Evernote

Well you have made it to the third post in the Evernote for Academics series. Previously I gave an introduction to the series and then covered some methods of using tags and notebooks in Evernote along with some other tips. Today we are going to examine one of the beauties of the Evernote system: getting your stuff into Evernote. The app itself has many awesome ways of getting your documents and notes into Evernote such as the app itself, web clippings, screenshots, email, and more. Coupled with the hundreds of apps that allow you to send information to Evernote there is really no excuse for you not to store all your information in Evernote.

For the purpose of this post I am just going to introduce some of the default methods that Evernote provides to import your files and notes into Evernote.

Evernote App

The default method of getting your notes and files into Evernote is the app itself. From here you can create a new note and start typing in your information and you are good to go. One additional useful feature is the ability to drag and drop files into Evernote. Each file uses the name of the file for the title of the note itself. See video below for a quick demonstration of dragging one or multiple files into Evernote.

Evernote also provides a menu bar app for quickly adding notes, taking screenshots, and capturing audio without actually opening the app. You can activate this by either clicking the icon or with a keyboard shortcut. This is particularly useful when you want to capture something quickly without actually opening the app. This frees you from distraction if you are working on another project not in Evernote. It is also handy to create a quick audio file for later.

See video below for a quick demonstration of dragging one or multiple files into Evernote and using the desktop clipper.

Evernote Options

Evernote Web Clipper

This is one of the most handy functions of Evernote. You can take any webpage and import it into Evernote to read and research later. The web clipper works in all the major browsers. Click here to download the Web Clipper. I find this particularly useful for biblioblogs. I save many articles that I may find useful later in research. Often times blogs and other websites can help spark ideas for research or serve as a launching pad for further research. By having these articles in my Evernote database I can easily search them later.

Email to Evernote

Evernote provides each user with a unique email that allows you to send an email to create a new note. I use this especially for emails that I want to save or search for later. Evernote’s search functions are often times much better than email clients such as Apple Mail. When I receive an important email I just forward the email to Evernote. For more tips on using this function and for creating a memorable email address see this post.

Evernote Mobile Apps

I will cover using Evernote mobile more in depth in a later post but having a mobile device with Evernote is often the most convinient way to get your information into Evernote on the go.

See here for more information and availability for Evernote on mobile devices.

Evernote also recently bought a note taking app called Penultimate. This is a notetaking app that works well when combined with a stylus on the iPad. I personally have not looked into this yet but here is a review of using the app with a specific stylus.

Skitch

Skitch is a seperate app by Evernote. This allows you to take screenshots, annotate them quickly, and upload to Evernote. See this video that I created for a tip on using Skitch in research.

Print to Evernote

On the Mac you can use the print dialog screen to send a file directly to Evernote. It appears to me that the Mac App Store version of Evernote and the direct download from their site is slightly different. This is the result of some of Apple’s limitations it puts on developers in order to create a completely safe environment for downloading programs. Unfortunately, many times this does not allow handy features such as “Print to Evernote.”

If you download Evernote directly from their website you will have the “Print to Evernote” feature. This will allow you to send any printable file to Evernote in the form of a searchable PDF.

Third Party Apps

There are numerous third party apps that integrate with Evernote. Integration ranges from just creating a new note to being able to specify notebooks, note titles, tags, and more. Below are some of my most used third party apps.

Byword

Byword is a fantastic distraction free text editor. I prefer to write most of my documents in Markdown. At its core it is very simplified HTML. Now that might sound scary but it is really easy to get the hang of. I find it easier and quicker to write in than using an app like Microsoft Word. With apps like Byword it includes simple keyboard shortcuts for most of your formatting.

After writing your document Byword has a export option that allows you to format and send your document to Evernote.

Popclip

PopClip is a neat little app that brings up options with you highlight text with your mouse. One of their features allows you to highlight any text and send it directly to Evernote.

Drafts (iOS)

Drafts is a great little app for your iOS device. It basically allows you to start writing anything and send to a variety of apps and services. For example, let’s say that I am going to send an email to a friend. I open up the email app and begin my message but before I am finished I think it might be better sent as a text message. I would have to copy and paste the text, close the app, open the text messaging app, and send. With Drafts you start your text in one central location and then send it elsewhere after writing. This allows you to always start any text based input in one location. It integrates with a variety of apps such as Messages, Mail, Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, DayOne, and much more. Check out this LifeHacker article for a more complete overview.

See the video below on how I quickly add book, article, and audio recommendations to one running note in Evernote.

Update: In the previous video that was posted I mentioned that you need to create the note in Evernote first before prepending or appending text but this is incorrect. Drafts will automatically create a new note and then append or prepend subsequent entries. This actually makes the workflow more streamlined and less prone to error due to mislabeling the note. Thanks Greg for reaching out with that correction!

The current video below is the updated video that shows the more streamlined workflow.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. I hope this post was helpful in giving you some ideas on how to get your stuff into Evernote.

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

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Evernote for Academics: Day 02 – Tagging vs. Notebooks

Introduction

If you do a quick Google search for “organizing Evernote”, “tagging vs. notebooks”, or “Evernote file management” you might be quickly overwelmed about all the “answers” and “solutions” to how to organize Evernote.

Well, I guess I have good news and bad news for you. The good news: there is no “right” answer. The bad news: it generally takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Below I will outline the basics of notes, notebooks, notebook stack, and tags. This series isn’t necessarily focused on an in-depth “how to” but rather to give you some basic ideas and principles on using Evernote. If you are wanting some help getting started creating any of these I will provide a link at the end of each section for you. The videos at the end of the post are not meant to rehash the text of the post but to show you some additional tips pertaining to this topic.

Click here for a basic getting started guide

Notes

Notes are the most basic component of Evernote. These can store basically any type of information ranging from just typed text to image files to PDFs. This is where you will input all your information. For my purposes most of my notes are typed text. Evernote allows you to format the text as you would in a typical word processor (i.e. Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, etc.). This means you can bold, italicize, and underline your text. Create tables, bulleted lists, and enumerated lists. You can also hyperlink text to other notes and external websites. Basically any formatting you want to add to your text you are free to do so.

One of the great aspects about notes in Evernote is that you can have multiple files within the note in addition to text. For example, if you are reading an article you can screenshot a section of the article, add it to Evernote, and then add your commentary on the related section. See video below.

Personally, I tend to keep my notes very brief and have multiple notes within a notebook. I find this organizational strategy more effective when going back to review notes.

For help creating notes click here.

Notebooks

These are a collection of notes. There are two different types of notebooks: local and synchronized. If you want your notebooks available on multiple devices choose the default, synchronized notebook. A local notebook is only store on the machine it was created on and will not synchronize to other devices. You can have unlimited notes in a single notebook.

Notebook Stacks

Notebook stacks are groups of notebooks. The one caveat to notebook stacks is they can only go down one level. For example, if you have a notebook stack called Student you can have multiple notebooks in this stack but you can’t have notebooks within those notebooks. In a traditional file system you can have as many folders within a folder as you want but Evernote limits this to one level. I used to balk at this idea because I like the hierarchal structure of a file system and having many folders within a folder but I have found that Evernote’s solution is perfect for their system because it keeps your Evernote database clean and structured. With the powerful search features of Evernote you never have to worry about digging through an endless line of notebooks to get to a file.

Go here for a short tutorial on how to create Evernote Notebook Stacks

Tags

Tags are a way to group similar notes across notebooks. Unlike notebooks you can have multiple tags on a single note (Notes can only be in one notebook at a time). For example if you have a note about the history of interpretation of Matthew you could theoretically tag it with: history of interpretation, Matthew, Gospels and include it in your Biblical Studies Notebook. If you wanted to see all your notes on Matthew you can search for the Matthew tag and it will bring up all the notes tagged “Matthew” regardless of what notebook it is in.

If you are going to use tagging I suggest these three basic tips, which are by no means unique to me:

  1. Create a standardized tagging system. Decide before hand if you will use singular or plural tags. In the above example you may tag one note Gospel but another note Gospels. This ruins the purpose of tagging because now you have to search for two seperate tags for the same idea.
  2. Keep tags broad or for very specific purposes such as individual projects. I will address this more below.
  3. Don’t be afraid to review your tagging system and modify it later. Evernote makes it very easy to edit tags for multiple notes at once.

For some helpful tips on tagging see this post.

Update: Here is another helpful post on tagging and searching in Evernote.

How I Use Tags and Notebooks

Using tags and notebooks may seem simple at first. The example I gave above with the note on the history of interpretation of Matthew seems great for a single use. But what if you have hundreds or thousands of notes with 3–4 tags each? This can be daunting and you will soon most likely lose track of what tags you have used. At one point I think I had upwards of 600 different tags in Evernote in a database around 1,000 notes. This means that my tags were either singular or plural for the same idea or too specific so I only had one note labeled with a certain tag.

A couple months ago I deleted all my tags and I am in the process of retagging my notes with a specific system. I now use many notebooks with fewer tags and specific tags. Most of my Evernote database consists of biblical studies related material so I have now created a biblical studies notebook with a more simple tagging scheme.

  • If a note pertains to one book I tag it with that book (i.e. Matthew)
  • Since sometimes my studies involve different sections of the bible I also broadly tag the grouping of that book (i.e. Matthew, Gospel). This way if I am doing research on the Gospels I can search the “Gospel” tag and see all my notes with Matthew-John in there for I can dig a little deeper and just look at notes on Matthew.
  • If a note is original language specific I either tag it with Greek or Hebrew. For example, if I have a note pertaining to grammar on Matthew I will tag it Greek, Matthew, and Gospel.
  • Finally, I use tags for specific projects. Instead of creating a seperate notebook for a project and moving my notes from one place to another I instead add a tag. For example, when I was working on a paper in my James class I just tagged everything pertaining to my research “James paper”

I don’t just have articles and notes related to biblical studies but in many other areas of theology as well. I haven’t come up with a specific tagging system yet for these types of notes so I am leaving them without tags. Evernote’s powerful search capabilities will help me find what I need regardless.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. I hope this short post will help you get organized using Evernote. To sum up, I would recommend using many Notebooks with Notebook Stacks along with a few very specific tags. But there is no right or wrong way to organize Evernote. You may find that you work better by dumping everything into one notebook and using tags for organization or you may choose not to use tags at all. My only warning though is that if you use too many tags it does tend to get overwelming and ends up not being useful.

Below I have included a couple videos in addition to the content above.

  1. How I organize my notes (using an “Inbox” notebook and some Notebook naming schemes).
  2. Using Skitch to capture a screenshot of an article, adding it to Evernote, and then adding some commentary on the note.
  3. Quickly add tags to multiple notes, create a table of contents for a notebook, and how to move notes from one notebook to the next.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please leave a comment below. I would love to interact with you and help with your Evernote organization.

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

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Evernote for Academics: Day 01 – Series Introduction

Evernote’s slogan is “remember everything”. They mean it. You can literally store (basically) anything you want into Evernote. In fact you can store almost anything and access it on almost any device (Apple, Windows, Android, Amazon, web browser, etc). The fact that you can do this makes it either a powerful tool or just an application that sits there unused. Imagine the library when you first began your academic career. It was (or is!) overwelming. You know there are thousands of resources at your fingertips ready to assist your research. But there is so much there and you don’t know where to begin. That feeling is similar to getting started with a tool like Evernote. As a student you either asked for guidance and received help in navigating the library and making it work for you or you pushed through and tried to figure it out yourself, which probably involved much more trial and error than seeking assistance. In the same way I hope this Evernote series provides you with the assitance to make Evernote work for you. It is a powerful tool that can transform you academic life as a student or a teacher.[1] This series will provide the basics to using Evernote that are especially pertinent in the academic realm. Once you know the basics you can begins to piece together workflows that will improve your productivity in your career.

To stretch the library metaphor a bit longer, the library probably offered many tools and services that no one ever told you about. Sure, you know the library has books and journals. But did you know there were more powerful ways of researching rather than picking all the books off the shelf that had your topic in the title? Maybe you learned that the library can obtain books that they don’t have. Or you realized that there is more to searching for journal articles online than just typing in a couple keywords. Or maybe there are vast resources that you didn’t even know existed! Well, Evernote works in the same way. You know that it can “remember everything” but what all can you do with it? That is the second part that I hope to accomplish with this series. Along the way I will give practical uses that either I use or know of others that use Evernote in different ways. It is my hope that this will inspire you to either adopt some of these practices and/or create your own unique uses. I want Evernote to work for you in whatever situation you are in.

What will this series cover?

Here is the tentative outline for the series. If you have any topics that you would like me to cover please leave a comment, tweet me (@renshaw330), or email me (brenshaw833@gmail.com). Each section will include both a written post and video tutorial(s).

  1. Introduction
  2. Your Evernote philosophy (tagging vs. notebooks)
  3. Getting your stuff into Evernote
  4. Searching within Evernote
  5. Use as a student
  6. Academic research workflows

Following my posts I will have some guest posts of current users of Evernote explaining how they make Evernote work for them. If you are interested in writing a guest post on how you use Evernote please either comment or send me an email.

I am excited for this series. I know many people who like the “idea” of Evernote but don’t know where to get started. There are others who “use” it but not to its full capabilities. Then there are others of you that are advanced users who could probably teach me a few things! Whatever level you are at I hope that this series will be beneficial for you.

Watch this short overview from Evernote below:


  1. Intergrating it in your whole life is great too but this series will primarily focus on the academic side.  ↩

If you would like to subscribe to the blog via RSS click here. If you would rather receive updates via email click here to sign up

Follow me on Twitter – @renshaw330

Links to the Evernote for Academics Series

If you would like to subscribe to the blog via RSS click here. If you would rather receive updates via email click here to sign up

Follow me on Twitter – @renshaw330

Create Your Own Actions in Launch Center Pro for Logos on iOS

In a previous post I showed you how to integrate Launch Center Pro and Logos for iOS using pre-made actions that I had already created. What if you wanted to create your own actions for different resources? Thankfully, by using Logos’ hyperlinking feature it is quite easy to do so. Watch the short video below as I show you how to create your own actions and increase your productivity on your iOS device.

 

Follow a link below to watch the video

(Web)(Mobile/Tablet)

or view on YouTube

Launch Center Pro is $4.99 (iPhone)(iPad) in the App Store and is available for the iPhone and iPad.