We’ve all seen the new Bing commercials showing people suffering from search engine overload. I can identify with those thus afflicted, since I go through that every day. Only it’s not hitting me when I search Google; it’s hitting me when I search Evernote.
Earlier this week I hit 6,000 notes in Evernote. That’s a lot of notes. That’s a huge, thundering herd of notes, the likes of which used to roam horizon to horizon on the Colorado plains. Wait, I think that was buffalo. But even so, my notes were out of control.
This isn’t Evernote’s fault. It does a dandy job of collecting and keeping all my notes. Things, perhaps obviously, go into the system rather easily. Getting the particular stuff I’m looking for back out at any particular time can be a problem.
Like Google’s index of the entire interwebs, once you hit a certain critical mass of notes, any search brings back too many matches. This forces you to browse through the list of matches to your search term when browsing a list and finding what you want with a Mark I eyeball is exactly what you’d hoped to avoid. Evernote provides lots of ways to narrow the search by content, time and place created and all sorts of other metadata, and allows you to save that combination of search criteria if you need them again in the future. But even so, there’s lots and lots of stuff in my Evernote database that doesn’t strictly need to be there. More to the point, there’s lots of stuff in my Evernote database that I’ll never see again. So why lug it around, even digitally?
I think the source of my issue is that Evernote is so free-form that I’m inclined to use it for everything so that I have all of my data in one place, even though other solutions would work better for certain kinds of content. I should keep my image files in Picasa or Flickr instead of Evernote. I should store my to-read-later articles in Instapaper instead of Evernote. I should keep my drafts in Google Docs, Writeroom or on a flash drive rather than in Evernote. I should keep my tasks in ToodleDo instead of Evernote. I think if I put into Evernote only what I knew I planned to keep so I could use it later, the data size would be manageable and it wouldn’t take nearly as long for the iPhone version to finish syncing and let me look up whatever I opened it for.
But before I go and do something rash (I have an inner R2-D2, and I’m not afraid to use it!), I thought I’d ask my readers (at least the ones that use Evernote, and I know there are a few of you). What do you store in Evernote and what do you store elsewhere? Why?