Why I’m Sticking With Evernote

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know how much I love Evernote.

It’s a wonderful app that lets you store information, pictures, notes just about anything. It’s one big digital filing cabinet that you can take with you wherever you go. If you get the web clipper, you can save web articles you read, recipes that you want to make, directions for DIY projects, maps, you name it. And it’s free!

Recently, Evernote changed their pricing structure, and you should have heard the squawking across the interweb. I have two words for all of you complainers. Quit it!

Nobody has an excuse to complain about Evernote changing their prices or their features. Period.

We live in a free market country and a company can do what they want as long as they obey the laws. That’s the beauty of capitalism.

Anyone complaining about changes to the free version probably fit into one of two groups: forty-year olds still living at home and yelling at their moms to bring them more Hot Pockets or people who think it’s okay for only Apple to charge what they want.

If you were using the free Basic version you now can sync only two devices. It used to be unlimited devices. Having my Kindle as part of the plan was nice, but then I remembered I was getting all this for free. My computer and phone will be just fine. And when I really thought about it, I was hardly using Evernote on my Kindle.

I didn’t really need to save a picture of level 1013 of Candy Crush.

The basic plan also changed the data size. 25 mb for a single upload and 60 mb total for the month. Last month I used 5.2 mb which consisted of five website articles. So far, I haven’t needed any more than the 60 mb. If you’re saving websites, recipes, things with light graphics then you’ll be fine. If you want to save pictures or infographics use One Drive or Pinterest because that’s where you’ll eat up your data.

Remember, all this storage is free, and there is no advertising. I use Microsoft Outlook for my email and I have to put up with advertising in my email window because it’s a free service. Do you realize how annoying that is?

If I ever feel the need for more data storage, or more features, I’ll have no problem paying $3.99 a month for the Plus Plan. I can’t get a large cappuccino at Starbucks for that.

Evernote Plus Plan

With the Plus Plan, storage capacity goes up to 1 GB, you can sync across all devices, you can access notes offline and you can forward emails into Evernote. Anyone who is freelancing, or self-employed, would consider this a small price to pay for all the benefits that Evernote offers.

The Premium Plan is $69.99/year which is the plan with all the bells and whistles and would be the plan for a business. Heck, I pay my cable company twice that for only a month to be entertained while I sit and knit.

Before you start complaining, step back and put everything into perspective.

Look at the charges, evaluate the benefits and then decide if it’s worth it. If it’s not, DON’T PAY IT!

You are the consumer and you are in charge. Save your complaining for the tax bill where your only option is to move to Alaska and live in the wilderness.

If you decide that you want to leave Evernote, there are plenty of alternatives, but none come close to offering the features that Evernote does. PC Magazine reviews a number of them, including Google Keep and One Note.

As a company Evernote had to make changes so they could continue to stay in business. A business stays in business by making money so they can pay their employees. When they make more money, they can hire more people and grow their company. Companies don’t make money giving away everything. This is called capitalism. This is why we have so many choices.

Evernote still is a great product. For now the free version still works for me, but when the time comes, I’ll have no problem sending them coffee money once a month for even better benefits.

Are you an Evernote user? Tell me what you use it for and what’s your favorite feature?

10 Tips to Remember What You Read

For years I’ve carried around Clifton Fadiman’s book The New Lifetime Reading Plan as proof that I had taken the first step toward becoming a smarter person.

When I first bought the book, some twenty or thirty years ago, I went through the table of contents that listed all the books and started checking off all the books that I had already read. Boy, I was well on my way to being really smart.

I recently picked up the book and with great dismay realized I hadn’t checked off any additional books in all these years. What troubled me more was that I couldn’t remember the books that I had read so very long ago.

And then I got to thinking, is it too late in my life to become a better reader, to work on remembering what I read? I don’t think so, and if you agree, keep reading to find out how you can become a better reader too.

My list progresses from simple to it takes commitment. Pick and choose or do all of my suggestions. There is so much advice out there on the interweb, but I think these make the most sense.

1. Read every day.

Obvious, right? But I’m going to include it here anyway because I’m going to add, that you should read aloud every day. If you’re tackling an exceptionally difficult passage in a book, read it aloud. How about a poem? I’m not one to read much poetry, but I’m thinking of changing up my reading list. We need to read and hear different rhythms in what we read to spark new synapses. Let’s get out of the same old rut and try something new.

2. Buy books.

I used to buy a lot more books years ago. I could spend hours perusing the bargain bins of the bookstore looking for that special tome to add to my bookshelf. After moving these books one too many times, I decided that was enough. I’ve downsized and fallen in love with the Kindle. The point here is that if you own the book, you’ll see it on your shelf, on your table, desk and you’re more likely to read it because it’s yours.

I wholeheartedly agree with this when it comes to nonfiction. I buy most of my nonfiction because I want these reference books at arm’s length at any given moment. And since I started blogging I have also started to buy more books.

The only fiction that I’d buy would be the classics, something that I’m going to read more than once. Current fiction is best gotten from the library or borrowed from someone else paying for that bestseller. So please buy that bestseller and then let me know when I can borrow it.

3. Create a book queue.

I’m not sure if this will help you become a better reader but I liked the idea. Think along the lines of a movie queue on Netflix. Plop the books that you want to read for the next six or twelve months in your book queue. You can look at it as a goal to set and then when complete you can look back to see what you’ve accomplished.

4. Write a review.

Recalling what you read helps you to remember so write a review on Goodreads or Amazon about the book you read. If you know you plan to write a review, you’ll be more deliberate in your reading and remember exceptionally good passages that you might want to share in the review. It will also help with your writing skills, a nice bonus.

Good books-Adler

Along with slowing down, reading aloud and even reading multiple times, try some or all of the following ideas. Be sure to stick with them for at least three weeks, the magic number to make a task a habit. These suggestions are going to require more commitment so only the people who are serious about becoming smarter should continue reading.

5. Skim the book.

I know when I get a new book, I’m anxious to dive right in, but it’s important to go through the table of contents to see how it’s laid out. Discover what the main points are so you can put together a framework. Then, when you read, you put the pieces together.

6. Paraphrase what you are reading.

After a paragraph or two, say out loud what the writer is trying to convey. Can you put in your own words what the meaning is of what you just read. This is harder than you think. When you’re reading something you think you understand what you’re reading, but when you have to retrieve and process in your words, it’s more difficult.

7. Write in the margins.

Also known as marginalia, this act of writing notes in the margins has been practiced for hundreds of years. I suppose this is why it’s important to follow rule number #2. I don’t really like to mark up my books that much, but if you have a Kindle, all bets are off. You can make as many notes as you want, and later, you can export them into Evernote. I did this when I collected research for my book.

8. Think in pictures.

I’m a visual person, and I’m sure a majority of people are. This is easy to do when you’re reading a novel, especially if the writer is good. But what about when you’re reading nonfiction? I have yet to try to do this, so I will have to get back to you on this.

9. Ask yourself questions as if you were writing a quiz.

I like this one because of my teaching background. I would also include the answer to your question.

10. Take notes.

This is the probably the toughest one to make a habit, especially if your reading time is when mine is, right before bed. I like to read to wind down from the day and often my reading is for entertainment not education.

To take this one seriously, I’m going to make it fun by treating myself to a new Moleskine  and new pens in various colors. I’ll feel like a child again going shopping for school supplies. Remember getting excited to start another school year with all your new notebooks, pens and pencils?

Let’s get that feeling back by creating a commonplace book.

You know what this is but you probably didn’t realize it had a name. It’s a book where you keep quotes, notes, anecdotes, facts, anything you want to record. Remember the “diary” in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade?

These days, I use Evernote as a digital commonplace book, but this lacks a tactile characteristic and the learning that takes place when you physically write something down. Although I like to think of Evernote as a modern-day commonplace book, in reality it’s one big digital filing cabinet.

I’ve been a life long reader. I don’t ever remember a time when I haven’t carried a book with me, had a book on my nightstand or had a bookshelf full of books.I could look back with regret and wish that I had started these habits 30 years ago and imagine having Moleskines filled with all my musings that I could now read, remember and probably laugh at. Instead, I’m going to look to the future. If I have enough time to fill one book to leave to my children, that’s one book that they wouldn’t have had.



Exposing the Follow Your Dream Hoax

Statistics show that every minute 145.6 blogs are created that will help you follow your dreams. Don’t believe me? I wouldn’t either because I made that up. But if you did check the real statistic, I’ll bet that it’s higher.

Helping people follow their dreams is big business.

I searched under “follow your dream books” and over 3 million results appeared. If you have ever read a self-help book, and I must admit that I’ve read a few for research purposes only, every expert will tell you all the benefits you’ll receive when you follow your dreams. They tell you that with some hard work, perseverance and their book you can make your dreams come true. And, it will be soooooo worth it.

Open your eyes people!

If you didn’t listen to that advice giving, navel-gazing, know-it-all, because I wrote a bestselling book on how to follow your dreams writer, he’d be out of a job. And I feel it’s my duty to expose the scam that has perpetrated our book shelves, our internet waves, our radio and TV shows urging us to quit our barely tolerable 9-5 jobs to take a leap of faith and pursue our passion.

If you haven’t heard, hard work is the leading cause of high blood pressure, over-eating, under-eating, diabetes, anxiety, increased desire to gamble, erections lasting more than four hours, depression, hyperactivity during and after full moons, uncontrollable napping and failing to come to a complete stop at stop signs.

My dear reader, I’m here to tell you that following your dreams is not worth it. I’m here to debunk these benefits and get you off the hook. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you don’t want to follow your dreams. You can still be happy. It may take a few more beers and a couple more episodes of “Friends,” but you won’t have to work for it. And that’s the beauty of it.

The more success you experience the more it's going to cost you.

Here’s what you won’t be missing.

1. When you follow your dreams, you are an inspiration to others.

If the hard work isn’t enough in following your dreams, now you’re put on a pedestal for everyone else to look up to. Why not add some more pressure? If I was busy following my dreams, I don’t want people watching me waiting for me to fail. I’d want them to look the other way, wait until I’m done, and then admire me, sing my praises and then plan a nice tribute.

2. Dreams make life worth living.

I think lounging on the couch, jumping between watching the latest cat video on You Tube and following your friends’ vacation meals on Facebook while they’re following their dreams should be plenty to make you feel that life is worth living.

3. Dreams will spark more dreams.

Just what you need.Even more dreams to pursue. You don’t have enough time to pursue your current dreams. And it was hard enough convincing your spouse that the only way to follow your dream of becoming a rock star at 48 was that you had to quit your job and use your pension to buy the tour bus. I doubt the spouse will be sticking around for round two of dreamland.

4. Dreams encourage action.

So, that getting up every day to go to work, battling traffic both ways, deciphering cryptic emails from management, listening to complaining co-workers, taking the kids to school, picking them up, feeding and clothing them isn’t action? If you add any more action to your life, you’d have no time to stop and smell the roses which is probably the advice these experts will be touting in their next book.

5. Following your dreams makes you step out of your comfort zone.

I like being in my comfort zone because it’s comfortable. Our lives are hectic enough, and as far as I’m concerned I don’t enjoy my comfort zone enough. My comfort zone is in front of the television, on the couch, curled up eating chocolate ice cream, watching a Christmas in July marathon on the Hallmark channel.

6. You can laugh at the naysayers when you follow your dreams.

Seems like an awful lot of work for a few laughs. Instead, why not invite all those naysayers over for a little pizza and beer, slip in your favorite comedy, (Mel Brooks is always safe; you’ll insult everyone in your PC crowd) and then everyone can laugh together. That way all tensions are eased and there won’t be that uncomfortable moment at the next company picnic when they’re all whispering, “Oh that’s so and so, she’s following her dreams.”

Dream followers believe that if you do what you love, the money will follow.

Whoever came up with this one, was probably able to follow his dream on someone else’s dime. I love to sit on my front porch watching the world go by, but I don’t see anyone sending me a check to do this.

Life is hard enough without having the pressure of experts screaming “follow your dreams.” You don’t need this headache. Get a job, have a family, take a few vacations, have some grandkids, retire, use your pension and die. What’s wrong with that plan? Nothing, if you ask me.

But, if you insist on reaching for the stars and doing what you love so you never have to work a day in your life, then you’ll probably need one or two bestselling books to get you started. And as soon as I check my PayPal account, I’ll be able to tell you which one will help you the most.

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