How I use Evernote to organize my youth ministry


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Since switching from PC to Mac, Ive flirted with several desktop note-taking and organizing programs, including Yojimbo and Journler. In the end I settled on Evernote because, in my opinion, it is by far the most feature-rich of them all.

If youre totally unfamiliar with Evernote, it might be a good idea to read their Getting Started guide or watch the Overview Video. Youll be glad you did, because the advice below will save you time and make you better organized in your ministry.

But before we get into the glorious details, here are a few tips to make Evernote work harder for you (and your ministry). First, install one of the Evernote Web Clippers. I use the official Firefox extension, and its great.

Second, add your personal Evernote email address as a contact in your phone. After youve signed up and logged into your account, your email address is located at the bottom of the page in Settings. This is where you can send pix and text messages which Evernote will convert to notes you can access later.1

Third, set up a new Notebook in Evernote specifically for Youth Ministry. If youre like me (or anyone else with a pulse), youll use Evernote for myriad things outside of your ministry as well (I even had this blog post outlined in Evernote).

Saving devotion ideas and teaching illustrations

If I come across a cool, inspirational, or spiritually edifying story on the internet, I simply use the Evernote clipper to save it for later. For example, a while back I came across a blog post called 18 of The Most Insane Journeys In Recent History, and I clipped it to my Youth Ministry notebook. If Im writing a devotion or message about overcoming trials or something similar, I can refer to this post for some good material. Better yet, I tagged the note with devo trial and journey so I dont have to remember it at all I can just type one of those words in the search box or browse through my tags to find what I need. Heres a screenshot of the entry.

Saving informative ebooks and PDFs

This is similar to the above implimentation, but I wanted to point out one of my favorite features: Evernote can search for text contained within pictures and PDFs. When I come across great ebooks or handouts, I clip them to Evernote for future reference. For example, I have 40 Icebreakers for Small Groups from Insight saved, and if I search icebreaker, Evernote quickly reads my mind finds what I was looking for. Heres a screenshot of the search in action.

Keeping track of signups and payments

As a note-taking tool, Evernote is really handy for jotting things down that dont legitimate their own Word document. I used it this summer to keep track of my junior high VBS sign-ups and payments. You can add checkmark bullets anywhere within a note, so whenever I received a payment, I simply checked off that students box. Simple as that. Heres a screenshot of the checkmark box in use.

Collect those pesky receipts

I hate doing receipts its one of my least favorite components of my job. Im always losing them or forgetting them and getting ticked when the first of the month rolls around. When Im at brick-and-mortar stores, I just put the receipts in my wallet, but when I buy things for my ministry online, its not that easy. Usually, a receipt is emailed to me, and I just save it to Evernote. If its a PDF, I drag and drop it into a new note, and if its text, I just highlight all and copy/paste.2 Heres an example of a note containing a receipt from my local Apple Store.

Prayer

Prayer isnt one of my spiritual fortés, but Ive managed to leverage Evernote to help me. I try to regularly ask students how I can be praying for them, and now I keep a list in Evernote with their names and what they want me to pray about. When I pray, I can focus on a specific student or go down the whole list you get the point.

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Those are just a few of the ways that Ive managed to take advantage of Evernote in my youth ministry. Ive only been using the program for a few months, but I know that the longer I use it, the more indispensable it will become (especially if when I get an iPhone). What are some other creative ways to use Evernote in youth ministry? Id love to hear your ideas please leave a comment and let me know!

  1. If you have an iPhone, you can just download the Evernote app and bypass this step. ↩
  2. If you do this, you probably dont want to make your Youth Ministry notebook a Public web notebook dont want people snooping around your receipts. ↩

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How I use Evernote to organize my youth ministry

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[] trying to figure out how to organize my electronic life, especially stuff I uncover on the Web. Jake Bouma explains how he uses Evernote to organize his ministry. Im hoping to implement a few of his ideasif I ever have []


Comments

Evernote seems like a great program, but theres just one clause in their Terms of Service that scares me away from their service: your Contributions automatically become the property of Evernote without any obligation of Evernote to you.

Toma: I can see where your concern is there. That seems like a somewhat standard ToS clause, and Evernote (so far) is a stand-up company. Thanks for pointing that out, though.

Good stuff once again, Jake. Im gonna have to stick with Journler until I can upgrade from Tiger (OS 10.4.11) to Leopard or Snow Leopard. Glad to see youre enjoying life in the Mac World!

Erik Thanks, pal. I liked Journler as well, but youre going to love Evernote when you upgrade.

jake, thanks for these ideas. Ive not figured out a systematic way of keeping stuff, this may help. I seem to do a combination of delicious, starring things in google reader, sharing them in google reader, evernote, etcbut everything is scattered around. Your suggestions might help.

Are you able to do all of that on the free account? Like your ideas.

jeff: Absolutely!

Thanks. I looked at it a little more this morning. Looks like a great tool. I had been a google notebook person but I like how this works with my blackberry a little more.

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