I’m terrible at organizing. Well, that’s not quite right. I can come up with brilliant systems of organization, but just never implement them. This has followed me throughout my life. It was easier when school consisted of clearly laid-out assignments. Going to college, however, it became difficult. Now I was responsible for keeping track of class assignments, due dates, notes, breaking larger long-term assignments into smaller tasks, and getting things done.
Well, my world gained a huge sense of clarity with a little-known program called Journlr. It allowed me to make digital notebooks and notes for all parts of my life. For some reason, it just worked for me. I used it for everything. Taking notes for class, recording audio of lectures, and keeping track of blog posts and other forms of writing. I would even use the video capture to record me playing different guitar lines I didn’t want to forget. It was so helpful.
And then it shut down.
I wandered around this wilderness for sometime, using the outdated program as long as I could, until the day I updated my computer and it couldn’t run anymore. I searched for a replacement, and I eventually settled on the program that I probably use more often than any other: Evernote.
And if you’re in seminary (or ministry), you need to get into it as well. There are many benefits Evernote can offer to those in ministry or theological education. I’ll go into more specific applications another time, but for now I want to give you the best feature of Evernote.
What is it?
First, if you don’t know, Evernote, most simply, a note-taking application. You set up digital notebook “stacks” with different digital notebooks inside, and then write digital “notes” in those notebooks.
These “notes” are blank canvases on which you can do nearly anything. You can throw in pictures, videos, audio, text, and files, many of which the program can “read” and make searchable. It can even make handwritten notes and text in photographs searchable.
In addition to this, they have many more features you may or may not use. Built-in chat, “shared” notes and notebooks, the ability to use a stylus to hand-write notes. So now that we know what it is, how can it help us?
The Evernote desktop application is incredibly powerful, but one of the beauties of using Evernote is that it is available everywhere. Everything from tablets to smartwatches all have Evernote apps that enable you to both collect and recall information on the go wherever.
The modern pastor and seminarian are both increasingly mobile. Pastoral conversations and seminary studying happens now in such varied places: coffee-shops, multiple church campuses, traveling to conferences, denominational meetings, libraries, parks, etc.
At every one of these places, you will have the chance to receive wisdom, go over notes, find sermon illustrations, and have meditations. Evernote lets you capture these things on the fly. Take voice memos, pictures, and notes. Also, if you find yourself in a particular pastoral moment, you can easily recall any relevant information to offer that might be of assistance to others.
So if that by itself doesn’t convince you, then just download it and check it out for yourself (it’s free!). Hopefully, you’ll see the magic too.