Evernote is pretty much a blank canvas, and you can do whatever you would like with it. However, as any artist or writer knows, that emptiness can sometimes be more discouraging than inspirational.
[EDIT]: Please note that as of today (August 21, 2014) Evernote has dropped support for at least two features: the creation of public notebooks and the text-to-speech with Clearly. These changes to its service have not been officially announced, but upon discovery by users, have been acknowledged by customer support staff — I am afraid this page may be outdated, and you can only know for sure what is available by testing the service thoroughly and planning accordingly, as features might change without notice.
You can easily find sites listing use cases with general tips; The Elephant Channel, torristory, and Andrew C. Maxwell come to mind. Below are some more in-depth use cases that will give you some idea not only of what you can do with Evernote, but also how to go about setting up your account to get the most out of it.
SlateAccounts gives advice on going paperless with your accounting. In “How to Use Evernote in Your Small Business,” Vickey Boatright shares her ideas about how to use Evernote in a small business environment. On her blog “Don’t Get Caught,” Denise Graveline offers tips that might be especially useful for travelers.
In “Baking Christmas Cookies Using Evernote Food,” Michele Savoldi shares how she uses Evernote Food in her baking. What a great way to create your own cookbook.
Building a Bike
In “Say It With Fewer Words: How to Build a Custom Bike with Skitch (New Skitch Series)”, Evernote Product Manager Jamie Hull shares her experience using Skitch for her custom-built bike. As a cyclist myself, as much as I like my bike, this wooden one puts mine to shame.
In “Lauren Atkins, Home Cooking Ambassador Shares Tips for Cooking with Evernote and Evernote Food,” Lauren tells us how she uses features like audio notes, tags, and the web clipper in her work. In Evernote – Organization for Cooks and Travellers,” Alison shares ideas for traveling and cooking. There are some useful tidbits in the comments section, so don’t forget to take a look at that.
Contacting Customer Support
Mark Stout writes on his blog about using Evernote when calling customer support. I have also found this useful, and it helps move things along past the script when you have dates, times, records of earlier online chats with other representatives, etc. all at your fingertips.
Doing Things More Productively
The Secret Weapon (TSW) is famous for introducing a method for combining Evernote and the Getting Things Done (GTD) system in a very accessible manner. In “10 Productivity Boosting Tips,” the Productivity Ambassador Joshua Zerkel covers a lot of ground explaining how to do more with Evernote.
Documenting your family history is a pretty exciting use for Evernote, and only a step or two away from what a historian might do for just about any project requiring the collection, recording, and analysis of sources. Of course, archives won’t usually let historians scan things. Fortunately, Japanese archives usually have professional equipment (camera stands and so forth) readily available for my research, but I have used variations of this setup in the past for other books and materials.
I’ve always meant to write one of these things, because I enjoy reading other people’s family letters, but I have never gotten around to it. I think using Evernote for a family letter would at least make the process more enjoyable.
Scot Newbury writes about how he uses Evernote to organize Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.
Heather Williamson gives tips about gardening with Evernote in “Skitch and Evernote for Gardening: Tips from a Professional Horticulturist”. I like the mix of Evernote and the Skitch application (for annotating images).
Ogihara Nana 荻原奈々 gets interviewed about “How a Hair Stylist in Japan Uses Evernote”.
Improving Your Home
Jeanine Hays discusses in “How to Use Evernote to Improve Your Home: Tips from AphroChic Founder Jeanine Hays” about interior design with Evernote. This blog entry demonstrates the creative potential for the snippet view with visual work.
Learning a Language
Federica Ercole writes in “Evernote World: How to Learn a Foreign Language with Evernote” about saving new words and phrases, noting lessons to focus on, and drafting blog posts about her language study.
Don Saker writes in his thread “Farleyfile” on the Evernote User Forums about how he uses Evernote as a contact manager. I have been doing something similar for a while, but I like how he presents the idea, and I have incorporated the “farleyfile” title into one of my templates.
Managing Relationships (as opposed to contacts)
Adam Boettiger is a self-described digital minimalist who writes on his blog about how to use Evernote as a contact manager.
Ellie Mirman explains in “How Marketers Can Use Evernote to Organize and Simplify Their Lives” how she uses Evernote for marketing. I agree with her about making Evernote into your place for todo lists.
In “How a Registered Nurse Uses Evernote as a Portable Resources Binder and Teaching Tool,” Laarni San Juan tells about using Evernote for work resources, business cards, teaching, and gathering knowledge.
Evernote User Forum member UncleKyle explains in this thread how Evernote has helped him and his wife deal with their daughter’s care. Whenever you consider putting confidential records in a cloud service, I think you have to weigh the risks and benefits carefully for your own situation. Evernote has many security measures, you can encrypt text from within the application, and you can easily encrypt your PDFs and other files before uploading them.
Publishing a Magazine
Janine Vangool talks about how she uses Evernote to edit, publish, and distribute a magazine in “How to Run a Magazine with Evernote: Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE.”
Alex Karpman explains in “Evernote + Skitch for the Perfect Proposal” how he used Evernote to create a romantic experience.
In “Evernote for Screenwriting,” Héctor Cabello Reyes tells how he wrote a movie with Evernote. It’s a nice mix of traditional paper and Evernote.
Aubrey McGowan shares in “Evernote for Songwriting: Song & Story” how he uses Evernote in his career.
Karen Parlato offers tips for her use case involving stage management during a tour. I like her “People Who Have Gotten Screwed” note idea!
Megan Cotter provides “10 Tips for Using Evernote to De-Stress College.” If you are in the San Francisco area this August, you might want to stop by the Evernote Trunk Conference to hear Megan speak about rethinking education as an Evernote Student Ambassador.
This isn’t about Evernote (the main application) but one of the companies it acquired and has continued developing out of its office in Austin, Texas. Steve Lai introduces in “Skitch as a Teaching Tool” how he uses Skitch to teach French and the guitar.
Who hasn’t worked with to-do lists? It seems like everyone has their own method, and while Evernote isn’t as robust as dedicate to-do list apps, it may actually work better for you because it is so flexible and easy to incorporate into your existing Evernote workflow. Evernote has an interesting blog post modifying Benjamin Franklin’s list method to fit into Evernote.
Evernote’s Senior Manager of Content Strategy, Kasey Fleisher Hickey, writes in “Plan a Family Vacation or a Solo Trip with Evernote (Travel Series)” about the process from gathering inspiration in the planning stages to organizing your memories using different applications like Evernote Food.
Grant Muller provides a detailed explanation of how he uses Evernote for logging his workouts. It comes with lots of helpful screenshots.