Are you sick and tired of all those sticky notes and loose papers on your desk? Are you tired of forgetting the most important item you were supposed to pick up at the office supply store? If so, there’s a great solution that will make a huge difference in your business for 2011.

One of the most frustrating parts of being a Realtor is tracking all the paperwork. For example, how many times have you misplaced a document, a business card or a note that you wrote on a piece of paper? More important, how much time did you waste searching for that item? Evernote makes it possible for you to always have access to what you need to remember.

Evernote vs. OneNote vs. Springpad
Regardless of what type of computer or smart phone that you own, Evernote is a tool that is well worth downloading. The first reason is that this powerful tool is free vs. the $100 price tag for Microsoft’s OneNote that integrates only with Windows products.

According to LifeHacker: "Evernote wins the mobile war with support for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Palm Pre; OneNote, on the other hand, supports only Windows Mobile devices. Both can perform optical character recognition (or OCR) for translating your handwriting into searchable notes."

There’s a third competitor for Evernote and OneNote called Springpad. According to the Springpad website, their application provides "a place to quickly and easily save anything you want to remember. Take a note, create a task, scan a product bar code, or look up the book your friend mentioned.

The best part is that no matter where you are, Springpad is there with you to make sure you don’t forget something worth remembering."

What was exciting about Springpad is that it recognizes what you have just entered. If it’s a movie, it will display show times. If it’s a product, it can display coupons. They regularly send you "deals of the day" as well as notify you when prices of products you are tracking drop.

The main drawback of Springpad for Realtors is that there is not currently a desktop version. Consequently, Evernote is the best option.

Handwritten vs. cloud notes
At the latest National Association of Realtors conference, I took my iPad rather than carrying a notebook to capture important ideas. I have had a tablet PC for almost six years, but the battery is good only for about three hours. It was easier to take handwritten notes than to lug around a computer in search of an outlet at a conference.

The problem with handwritten notes, however, is that you have to go back and read through them to locate the key points you want to remember. Furthermore, if you wanted to share the information you had to either re-enter everything on your computer or scan the information.

The power of Evernote
The power of Evernote derives from being a "cloud"-based real estate application. This means that you can access your Evernote files from any device that has the Evernote program and an Internet connection. What’s great is that whatever you have stored is instantaneously available on any of the platforms where you have installed the Evernote software.

You can also use Evernote on your phone to snap a photo of a whiteboard, business card or wine label. Evernote automatically makes the text in your snapshots searchable.

How to use Evernote in your business
Evernote obviously shines as a solution for eliminating much of the paper from your business. For example, instead of taking handwritten notes on a property’s condition when taking a listing, you can take the notes on your smart phone, iPad or tablet PC. You can then send them to your client’s e-mail or forward them as an attachment to their smart phone.

Evernote is also an incredible time-saver. To illustrate, suppose that you are reading your Tweets on your phone. You find a great article that you would like to share with a client. In most cases, you would have to cut and paste the address of the URL into an e-mail to send it to your client, provided your phone even has a cut-and-paste function.

The other option would be to bookmark the site, but that’s not possible with most phones. Furthermore, managing hundreds of bookmarks can be a daunting task, even if you organize them into lists.

With Evernote, you can click anywhere on the page that you want to save. Evernote automatically enters the note into your account. You can then tag it for future reference making the document simple to find. You can also search within the documents. 

One of the most important uses for Evernote is tracking receipts. Since Evernote records the date you made the note, you have a built-in record of what you spent and when. Furthermore, because the storage exists in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing your receipts. Just photograph each one, tag it, and you have the documentation you need at tax time.

While there are plenty of new technologies to try, Evernote is a simple solution that will go a long way in simplifying your life in 2011.

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