Evernote (i.e. the best thing for a busy working mama)

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If you haven’t been introduced to Evernote, then consider yourself lacking.  I LOVE Evernote!

It has saved my sanity as a working mom, a scientist, and even a faithful Catholic.

I follow TSW (The Secret Weapon) as my approach to making Evernote work for me (i.e. better productivity).  But I mainly love Evernote because everything (everything!) ends up in the same place – all of my thoughts, notes, sticky notes, tasks, blog posts, to do’s, etc. You name it, it can be there.

Now, it is digital… But for those that love the pen and paper (I mean, BIS Lenten Journal, FTW), there’s still a way to get it into Evernote.  And then it’s there… FOREVER.  I hate dealing with clutter.  To the extent that I just make piles of clutter because I don’t want to deal with it.  Ask RJ, he’ll tell you the truth about my inability to throw paper away (For real, going through the mail truly tests our marriage).  But with Evernote, I can shred the paper copy after I’ve snapped a quick photo and saved it.  Takes less than 30 seconds.  Maybe 15 if you’re fast with technology.  Or if you have the Evernote quick note add-on on your phone:

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You can make it easy to add a note on your phone…

But I digress from the main point about Evernote.  It has truly changed my life, and how I approach a To Do list nowadays.  When you have a million things to think about, and those million things can be separated into some categorization (work, home, errands, etc.), then you can further prioritize them using Evernote.  This serves two purposes: (1) To help you prioritize, and (2) To declutter your brain.  Because let’s be real.  As women, having a spaghetti brain is hard.  You think about one thing, then you remember another thing, then that reminds you of something else, until you realize that you forgot to bring diapers to daycare.  Hopefully your child hasn’t sat in a dirty diaper all day…

But with Evernote, I can make a separate note of everything that comes to my mind and prioritize it in that moment.  Bringing diapers to daycare is a Now task, but looking into flights for my cousin’s wedding next fall is a Later task.  I can get it out of my brain, onto “paper,” and then forget about it until it pops up in Evernote.  And as a mom, operating on little sleep sometimes, it has saved my sanity, memory, and productivity.

As a scientist, I use it in a more sophisticated way.  (But it’s the same system, so I don’t have to switch at work and home – if I think about something work-related at home, I can just make a quick note, and vice versa)!  I can use it to archive journal articles I’ve read, which includes my annotations, summary, and notes all in one file.  I can use it as a virtual lab notebook for data analysis.  I can use it to save files that people send me via email during the day.  I can declutter my inbox with it.  I can take notes in it (or take pictures of my digital notes).  I can keep track of my orders with it.  I can plan my experiments in it.

I could keep going, but I won’t bore you with all the awesome things you can do with Evernote.  You’ll need to explore it yourself, and make it work for you.

That’s one of the best things about it.  It’s customizable.  You can tag things the way you want.  You can make different notebooks for different projects.  You can keep everything organized like a virtual filing cabinet.  But you make the rules.  You make it work for you.

And for my faith-based life, well, I’ve been playing with bullet journaling on Evernote.  I keep track on a calendar of which devotionals I do each day.  I keep my notes on devotionals or email videos in a single notebook.  I save the BIS devotionals that truly speak to me (Did I mention how easy it is to “clip” an email?  Just press a button.).  I back-up my NFP chart here.  I save the things that inspire me.

And since I can type faster than I can write, I can capture a lot more of my thoughts.  I can get a lot more out of listening to a Dynamic Catholic video.  I can look at things that spoke to me in the past when I’m struggling with my anxiety.

And if I write it down, as I do in the morning, then I can just snap a quick picture and save it for later.  No big deal.  Maybe I read something in the Magnificat that speaks to me – snap a picture and read it throughout the day on my phone.

It truly helps organize my life into one app that I can access anywhere.

And it’s free.  You can upgrade to fancier versions, but even the basic version has so much potential.  I’m not getting anything from singing Evernote’s praises in this blog.  I just love it so much that I want you to know how much it works for me.  Because we could always get more done, but we can only remember so much and do so many things in a day.  So reserve some of your brain power for prayer, and let it all go in Evernote.

They say that women aren’t able to think about nothing.  We don’t have a “nothing” box that we can retreat into.  Well, Evernote is helping me get closer to that.  I have less to think about, less to remember, and more time to focus on the tasks at hand.  Even if it is bringing diapers to daycare…

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Babies, Stillness, and Jesus

Lily is quite the wriggly six month old these days.  The hour we spend at mass is spent attempting to keep her occupied so she doesn’t get too antsy and fussy.  So when we get to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, she tends to be pretty sick of sitting in the same spot.  Who would have thought that someone so interested in exploring could get bored?

So imagine my surprise this Sunday when the most beautiful thing happened.  It was my first Sunday mass alone with Lily, since RJ was home sick with the stomach flu.  So I was completely on my own.  She did well before mass started and through the Liturgy of the Word.  By then, we had read “Let’s Go to Mass” half a dozen times.  Right before the Consecration, she got really restless, looking around and arching her back, which are all signs of her becoming fussy.  Wrangling her while kneeling isn’t the easiest feat.

But just as the priest consecrates the bread into the Body of Christ, lifting it above his head, she pauses and turns towards the altar.  Utterly still, not blinking.  Then a few seconds later, she jerks her head and continues to look around the sanctuary.  I thought I imagined it.  But when the priest raised the Blood of Christ, the same thing happened.

Now I will admit that the bells may have helped gain her attention.  But the complete stillness in her eyes and body as she looked towards Jesus at the altar was the most amazing moment I’ve experienced with her during mass.  It makes me a proud Catholic mama.

She looked at the Body of Christ like she had seen it for the first time.  Like she was seeing Jesus for the first time.  She discovered the beauty of the mass without even understanding why it’s the center of our liturgy.  How awesome is that?

This little girl is teaching me a lot about appreciating these moments.  I’m constantly amazed by her uninhibited discovery and faith in this new world.  I wonder if she can see Jesus during consecration in a way we can’t.  Her innocence and ability to believe without inhibition is so powerful.  I want to be there, with that faith that doesn’t doubt yet.

I’ll remember this beautiful moment for a long time.  And I hope that her innocent faith continues for many years.  This Catholic mama is smiling because of it 🙂