Evernote is an easy to use free program and app that lets you keep track of all kinds of information in one place. It’s like a notebook that’s kept online “in the cloud” if you will, so in today’s connected world, you pretty much always have it with you. Don’t worry if you’re not someone who’s always online, your Evernote notebooks are also saved on whatever device you have the program installed so you can access them even without an internet connection. Evernote can be a pretty handy tool for a volunteer organization like a church. How you may ask?
Here are 7 simple ways to use Evernote for churches.
1) Keep all your login in information and passwords in one place
As we get more and more accounts for all the cool services available online, it’s easy to forget or misplace one or more of them. One of the great ways churches can use Evernote is to record all the login information for online accounts, so you always have it in one place. Admittedly you do need to remember the login and password for Evernote to do this.
You may be thinking, “I can use a word document to do this.” True. Evernote however stores the information online in “the cloud”, and this is where Evernote really shines if you ask me. Now you can access that password list from wherever you are, provided you have internet access, which if you have a smartphone is pretty much everywhere. (See way 7 for simple smartphone ways churches can use Evernote.) Now if you want to update the churches twitter feed from home for example, you have the login information right there. Or if a great new event is planned that you want to put up on the church website right away, but you’re on vacation, you have all the information you need to do the update right there with you. Cool eh?
2) Organize all the important church policies and documents in one place
Many churches create policies for all kinds of things, and then promptly forget exactly what they are once the situation that required the policy has been dealt with. When a similar situation arises again someone is bound to say “I’m sure we have a policy about that.” and then have no idea where to find said policy. In my experience this situation usually leads to a bunch of time spent creating a very similar, if slightly different policy. Personally I find this quite frustrating to be a part of.
Churches can use Evernote to keep all their policies in one easy to find and access place. If someone thinks there is a policy on something they can just use the search function in Evernote and if there is a policy they will find out right away. Evernote even lets you attach documents to notes so you don’t have to retype, or even copy and paste, policies you have e-versions of, just attach them to a note. For premium users Evernote has the capacity to search within PDFs, which can help you to find exactly what you are looking for.
3) Keep track of meeting agendas and minutes
My recent decision to try and go paperless at meetings has meant I often had to bring my laptop just to have a copy of the agenda with me. I could email it to myself, but then if I need to look at a copy of older minutes or a policy, I was out of luck. That is until I started putting all my church documents in Evernote. Now, I can access everything from my smartphone, or tablet (Android or iPad available). This makes life way easier as even my relatively small, light laptop was annoying to bring just to have an agenda. (And I felt like people were always thinking I was going to break out power point or offer to take minutes or something.)
By having all my meeting agendas and minutes in Evernote, they’re always with me, and I can use them on the device of my choosing. This is also great for being able to look up past minutes and agendas to see what was going on the last time the group got together.
4) Have a master list of who has a church key and other important information
It isn’t easy to keep physical lists of who has what keys, or where different keys are kept. It seems to me the list, along with the keys, are always going missing. With Evernote you can create a document style note with who has what keys, or create a table in your note to keep track of key numbers and who has them. You can also note where specific keys, like to the notice board, are located so you don’t have to replace the lock every year when someone forgets where the key is. And while church keys are a good example, it’s only one. Churches can also use Evernote to keep track of when the microphone batteries were last changed, where to find the extra boxes of matches and candles, and whatever else you can think of.
5) Share notes with others
Once you have all your church policies and meeting minutes in Evernote, wouldn’t it be great to be able to share that with other people so they always have access as well? Good thing you can. It’s easy to share notes or notebooks with other people, whether they also use Evernote or not. (Obviously it works better if they do.) As a premium user, you can also give other Evernote users permission to edit notes. That way it doesn’t always have to be you adding new policies to the policy notebook. This is a great way to make sure the list of who has what key for example can be available to everyone who needs to know, even when they aren’t at the church. It also lets you make sure everyone coming to a meeting has the most current agenda, without flooding their inboxes every time you make a change.
6) Make sure you always have those ‘wider church’ documents with you
In many denominations church work doesn’t stop at the local congregation. Often people are also involved in work of Presbyteries, Synodes, Conferences, National Offices, or whatever names your denomination has for these larger bodies. In my experience these other meetings also come with a reasonable amount of paperwork. By putting it all in Evernote not only will you have it with you at your next meeting without needing to bring one, or more, giant binders of paper, you’ll also have that National Office document with you when a board meeting drifts to discussion of it. There’s no better way to calm peoples nerves about a power grab for example, then by reading directly from the document rather than having to remember what it said.
7) Having Evernote on your smartphone
Having Evernote on my smartphone has saved me a number of phone calls and trips to the office. It’s also given me copies of meeting agendas that I can easily print for others who have forgotten and would like a paper copy. Having my documents with me wherever I go seems unnecessary, but it really can be helpful. Being able to give someone that piece of information they are looking for right away, means I don’t have to remember to do it later.
There are many other ways to use Evernote that I didn’t get into here, including tagging notes to make them easier to find, as this post is about simple ways churches can use Evernote. If you are interested in learning more, here is the overview video from the Evernote website, which you can also take a look at for more ideas.
Remember to be creative about using technology, and think about combining different programs and devices. For example, make the most of Evernote by having an inexpensive tablet in the church office that people can access for use in the building. This is a great way to bring Evernote to those that don’t yet have a smartphone or their own tablet.
Do you use Evernote to help organize your church or your life? What are some of the basic ways you’ve found Evernote to enhance the way you work? Are there any easy to implement ways churches can use Evernote that I’ve missed?