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Evernote is the closest (or at least, the most popular) digital relative of the old moleskin notebook. There’s just one slight hitch – Evernote organizes all the notes and notebooks in a flat, linear structure. Usually, it isn’t a problem at all if you are anything other than a visual thinker. Visual thinkers lean more towards free-flowing methods like sketchnoting and mindmaping. Visual thinking helps to break down the complexity of information and gives you another angle to look at it from. When it comes to working with information, a more visual approach also helps to re-organize the structure of staid notes, and bridge the right-left brain to spark creativity.
The Evernote ecosystem gives you two choices to go visual with your notes and explore them in more interesting ways.
Mohiomap is an interesting third-party application that helps you visualize your Evernote notes as a mindmap. You can navigate through the mindmap and interact with your notes as you would on Evernote. After signing into Mohiomap, authorize the app to connect to your Evernote account. Don’t worry, you can always cancel the authorization from Evernote. Mohiomap graphically represents your notebook’s structure with nodes (representing the individual notebooks) and links. Here are the useful features of the mindmap which allows you to intuitively get a bearing on your notes. You can…
- “Pin” nodes in place and control the mindmap’s layout.
- Filter out old topics by using the control to filter by age of note.
- Zoom slider (or mouse) controls the layout. Zoom in and out of individual nodes.
- Open each note in a preview panel, browser window, or launch the Evernote desktop application.
- Isolate each node from the remaining nodes and see all the notes it contains. Each notebook and note is editable.
- Search through notebooks using keyword based search through tags and also search through all joined notebooks.
- Mohiomap also supports tagging. Notes without tags carry the date of their creation.
Using Mohiomap: Mohiomap is useful for getting an overview of related notes as they are difficult to find using the Evernote application. You can also use the search feature to quickly generate a mindmap with the keyword hits in your notes. The app itself needs a few finishing touches – there were a few instances when the navigation stuttered on Chrome. If the mindmap seems too crowded, you would do better to focus on individual nodes. It is a useful application if you like to get a complete bird’s eye view of all that you have dumped in Evernote.
Index cards have long been used in many productivity systems. Just as cheap and useful as the humble notebook, the index card finds its way back to Evernote with CardDesk. CardDesk is a beta application that visually organizes your Evernote notes into index cards on a workspace called the Desktop. Just like any other Evernote app, you have to sign-in and allow CardDesk to access your Evernote account. CardDesk is fairly intuitive to use – from the left pane, you can drag and drop individual notes on the Desktop and visually organize them like index cards. Beyond that, you can…
- The index cards can be resized and color coded.
- Arrange notes neatly in tiles or stacks while moving them around.
- Double click on any note in the left pane or on the Desktop to view it in Evernote.
- Create multiple Desktops within the same session of CardDesk for multiple projects.
- Click on the Evernote icon on each card to edit the note in a separate Evernote window.
- Quickly create a new note from within CardDesk. It syncs automatically with the selected notebook.
- The different ways to arrange notes allows related notes to be placed relative to each other.
- The notes panel provides a search feature to quickly call up related notes.
Using CardDesk: Even though CardDesk is in beta, it is a handy tool for solo brainstorming around all the research notes you have collected. The advantages of index cards extend to Evernote – for instance, you can use it as a vision board or as a visual map for documenting a series of steps in a process.
You can catch some of the developments around this Evernote app on the Evernote Discussion threads.
There are many unique uses of Evernote. While I wouldn’t advocate opening up any private information stored on your Evernote notebooks to third-party Evernote apps, these handy visual organizers can be put to productive use to manage the deluge of non-personal information we trust Evernote with.
If you are new to the note taking app, don’t forget the unofficial Evernote manual to start off. If you are an old hand, tell us your impressions about these two tools. Are you a visual thinker who likes a more non-linear approach to managing information?
Image Credit: AWa (Wikimedia Commons)