Thursday, November 21, 2013

12 ways I'm using Evernote now on business travel

Celtic mirror in the British Museum
No matter how much or little I take with me on business trips, I'm always packing Evernote, the mega-notetaking program that's part of my go-to productivity suite. I use Evernote's premium service for maximum storage and searchability every day, but on the road it really proves itself as a portable office. Here's how I'm using it for business travel now:
  1. Store photos: Like most folks, I snap photos while I'm traveling, usually with my phone. The Evernote app on my phone includes a camera, which I can use to put the photo directly into a notebook. If I forget, or want to snap the picture fast using the phone's camera app, I can still share it into Evernote. This museum photo from a London trip went right into my own little photo museum in Evernote. I also snap pics of meeting rooms and speaking venues, whiteboards loaded with notes (all searchable in Evernote), and more.
  2. Work on the plane/train: Before a trip, I set key notebooks for offline use and sync up my devices so I can access info, reading, to-do lists, vital documents and more, even when the wifi is weak or nonexistent. 
  3. Face-to-face contacts at conferences: When I'm at a conference, I use the Evernote camera app to snap pictures of new contacts, preferably wearing their nametags, so that the text can be searched later. That means I don't need to recall your name, just the name of the conference we attended, to find your picture. Before the conference, I can search all of Evernote to find notes in which existing contacts are already mentioned, a great way to refresh my memory before we meet again.
  4. Conference planning and notetaking: When I chaired the European Speechwriter Network conference in Brussels in September, I started a notebook for the conference right away as a planning tool and used it to manage my role at the meeting on-site, from my script to logistics. Since then, I've started conference-specific notebooks for other major meetings I'm attending, particularly if I'm acting as more than just an attendee. 
  5. Skype conversations: Skype is often my on-the-road phone service, and I use the free Callnote app when I'm recording a call. Callnote will notify the other party that they're being recorded before the call begins, and will put the recording right into Evernote--either automatically at the end of the call, or after you review it.
  6. Packlists and other lists: Evernote's my regular to-do list program, but trips each get their own packlists, based on a core list I keep here. If I travel to a city frequently, I'll save its packlist in the city's destination notebook (see below). You can even include--and check off--checkboxes if you're that kind of listmaker.
  7. Destination notebooks: After experimenting with many other ways of doing this, I've settled on keeping a notebook for every major city, state or country to which I travel. Part guidebook, part business travel receipt storage, I keep everything related to that city in one place: airline tickets and boarding passes, train and hotel reservations, receipts, take-out menus, restaurant recommendations and reviews, lodging ideas, upcoming events, discounts, contact information for local friends, receipts for expenses to be reimbursed and for tax purposes, shopping options, local business vendors, office rental options, taxi or car service companies. Then I leave everything in that city notebook from previous trips, a great and searchable way to remember that little restaurant or neighborhood resource. Better than any travel guide and much lighter.
  8. Long-distance collaboration: I collaborate with a couple of long-distance co-conspirators, so we use shared notebooks in Evernote into which either of us can put or read notes, articles, source material, photos and more. When we get together in person and mention something in another notebook, it's easy enough to start sharing a previously closed trove of info. I use the Powerbot app, compatible with Evernote and with Dropbox, to save important collaboration emails right from Gmail into Evernote.
  9. Important documents: Rather than make and tote paper copies of my passport, other government IDs, tickets, boarding passes, birth certificate and other important documents I need while traveling, I've scanned them all into Evernote. In an emergency, I can access them from any computer with online access via the website, on my Kindle or on my phone's Evernote app. This is a notebook that's configured for use offline, to make things easier.
  10. Receipts: I save trip receipts in Evernote, either by scanning them in my hotel using the compatible Doxie portable scanner or by tossing them in a Shoeboxed envelope I carry with me; Shoeboxed gets my envelope of receipts once a month, scans them into a web interface and recycles the paper. From there, I can download the receipts into Evernote or an accounting program. Better yet, any emailed receipts get forwarded right into the correct notebook. You can do this with any email in your inbox by sending it to your unique Evernote email, adding the notebook name in the subject line following an @ symbol (as in "@New York City") or a tag in the subject line, using the # sign. Or, use your unique Evernote email as the email you use to sign up for notices from airlines, trains, and hotels to have their emails sent directly to your default notebook. This is a core component of my near-paperless office plan. Bcc-ing emails I send about trips to Evernote gets the filing done automatically.
  11. Expense reports: When it's time to submit expenses, I can merge separate notes with receipts into one note, add a spreadsheet summary created within Evernote, and email it to my client, again right from the program. 
  12. Maps and directions: Particularly on trips where I'll be in a location for a week or more, I save maps of the neighborhoods where I'm staying or where I know I'll be going, and mark them for offline use. I also save driving directions for frequently visited locations--no need to search twice. This year, I rented a flat in London instead of staying in a hotel, and stored menus from nearby restaurants, maps to grocery stores, cab company contact info and much more, both as I planned and carried out my stay.
That's just scratching the surface of Evernote's utility for business travel, and the program gets smarter all the time. Check out more ideas in this post I wrote in 2011 on Evernote and business travel, and take a look at what might be coming next in its features. You can use my link to sign up for Evernote and get a free month of Evernote Premium. Do you use Evernote for biz travel? Share your tips in the comments.

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