Stop searching and start doing

I have read a lot of interesting posts so far this year about Evernote, OmniFocus, GTD, inbox zerogeneral productivity approaches, and now my friend Dan Gold is trying an experiment where he is going back to paper!.

When Mr Gold posted in Google Plus that he was trying this paper experiment and invited some of the productivity people to join him, I said no thanks, and good luck.

I touch so little paper these days I’m affraid if I went back to paper that I would break out in hives.

But based on his follow ups, he is having a lot of success with the paper system and it reminded me of something I have said before. There is no perfect system for everyone.

Just because I run my real estate business in Evernote does not mean you should or would want to. Just because I structure my day a certain way does not mean that is what will work best for you.

Some agents I talk to and help get into a system spend so much time thinking about things and trying to copy what others do that they forget the important thing.

Get the work done!

Stop overthinking it. This is not rocket science.

Here is what I suggest you do. If you are looking for a system that works for you read Getting Things Done, read some tips in this blog and other blogs about productivity then take the things that you think can work for you and create your own system.

Once you have a system, do it and keep doing it. Make it a habit. And if you find yourself getting on track and needing to get the habit back, there are good blog posts for that too.

There is no right and wrong way to do things. Do what works for you.

5 Reasons Students Will Love Using Evernote

Today, something a little different. I want to introduce you to Jordan Collier. Jordan, the author of Evernote Student Handbook, has agreed to share with my audience some tips on using Evernote for your children.

My daughter, who is in 8th grade, received a Fire Kindle for Christmas. She asked me to teach her Evernote, and as much as I love Evernote I had a hard time telling her how she may be able to use it.

So off to the web I went and I there I found Jordan. He shares with us some great tips that we can pass on to our kids. And if you like what you see make sure you check out his ebook.

Now join me in welcoming Jordan.


I surveyed my 8th graders to see what tech devices they could use at school if needed and the results were astounding:

98% of my students had at least one device.

The overall ratio was 2.1 devices/student.

If this is true, then why do students still prefer to hand-write assignments? Why do students lose notes and assignments? Why do students lug around bulging backpacks and have one unorganized notebook for each class?

I use my phone and iPad for just about everything. If it works for me, wouldn’t it work for the digital natives who think an iPhone has always been around? Students could use their phones and tablets to help them at school and stay organized, right?

But they don’t.

It’s not because they don’t want to; it’s because they don’t know how.

So this year I’ve tried my hardest to teach students (and other teachers) how using Evernote at school will help them stay organized, be less stressed, and be better prepared for school. I hosted a workshop, wrote a handbook, started a blog, and I use Evernote daily in my class to teach my students the benefits of digital organization.

Here are five reasons reluctant students may try using Evernote:

1. Search notes instantly. This is by far the coolest feature of Evernote. Type a note, snap a picture, or scan a handwritten document into Evernote and it becomes a searchable document (even handwritten notes). For students, this is a complete time-saver and great when studying for tests.

2. Keep a digital notebook for every class. By using Evernote, students no longer need a 3-ring binder for each class. Instead, by creating notebooks and notebook stacks for each class, students can keep all of their notes, assignments, and class papers in one place– Evernote. Say goodbye to this:

Use Evernote to stay organized

Use Evernote to stay organized

3. No more lost or misplaced papers. If students complete notes or an assignment on paper, they can snap a picture of it (or scan it) and save it directly to Evernote. I’ve had several students this year lose an assignment, but email me their scanned document when the assignment was due. Storing assignments digitally definitely saved their grades!

4. Share notebooks. When students work in groups, inevitably the student who has the group’s folder is absent or goes on a “unexpected” family vacation. It always happens. Using a shared notebook allows students to have one location to save and share information regardless of their physical locations. Whether they are working from school, from home, from Starbucks, or from Disney, each group member always has access to the shared notebook.

5. Text papers in class. Students are FAST at texting– ridiculously fast– and most of them hate handwriting anything, especially essays. So instead of physically writing an essay in class, many of my students use their phones instead of pencil and paper. They open an Evernote note, text their paragraph or essay, and then email me the note. If they don’t finish in class, their note is automatically saved and synced on Evernote, and the next time they open the note, they can pick up where they left off. No flash drives or computers needed.

Even though the digital natives are very tech savvy, they still lack confidence and know-how when it comes to using tech at school. At first, many of them feel it’s more work or takes too much time, but like anything, the more they try, the faster they become.

To get more ideas about how students could use Evernote at school, download the free ebook 19 Practical Evernote Ideas for Students.

Click below if you’d like to purchase the Evernote Student Handbook– a how-to guide I created for my students.

Start using Evernote to get ready for 2013 taxes today

2013 is here and many of us are starting to get organized for our taxes for 2012. We only have 4 and a half months, which will go by quicker than we want.

Are you organized and ready? I am. And I have already started getting ready for 2013 taxes using my favorite productivity app, Evernote.

My tax organization is easy, let me tell you about it quickly and see if there may be something you can take from it to help you be more productive and organized in 2013.

There are two different ways to go about this. First I will discuss if you do your own taxes, second how to set it up if you have someone else prepare your taxes for you.

Do-it-yourself tax preparation
For the do-it-yourselfer I recommend using tags. Set up tags for each category in which you will take a deduction for. Below I will use an example of different categories you may use and the tag I would use in Evernote:

  • Marketing – 13marketing
  • Travel – 13travel
  • Charity – 13charity
  • Meals – 13meals
  • Supplies – 13supplies
  • etc, etc, etc

Have a tax preparer
The first thing I do is create a new notebook called Taxes 2013. The reason I have a notebook here is because I am going to share it with my tax preparer.

Inside the notebook I will put all my receipts and use the following naming technique for my receipts 13–01–01 $240 Marketing

That example is a receipt I received on 1/1/13 for the amount of $240 for marketing.

The reason I use this naming technique, because now my tax preparation person knows what was added since the last time he looked at the notebook, how much it was for and what catagory I’m thinking it may be under.

I never have to tell my tax preparer when I add anything. Any time they log in, which could be weekly, monthly, or whatever works for you, they will see what was added.

For both groups
Here is the key I have found to make this system work for me. This will be the third tax season I have used Evernote to track taxes, and the second one I have done it for the complete year.

I have found this to be the key, as soon as I get a receipt it goes into Evernote immediately. If I get a receipt handed to me I take a picture of it with Evernote app on my phone. If receipt is emailed to me I forward immediately to Evernote. Doing so as soon as you get the receipt saves you from having to recreate things down the road.

I also highly recommend you get emailed receipts as much as possible. It really does make your life easier. When forwarding emails to Evernote I find using Powerbot a very useful tool.

Now is this the only way to track receipts, no, but it is what I have used for the last two years and I am very happy with how much easier it has made my tax preparation at the end of the year.
Photo credit rangerholton on Flickr

13 apps for a more productive 2013 Day 13: Evernote

Heading out of 2012 and into 2013 I am highlighting 13 apps that help me with my productivity. This is App 13 and today I’m going to talk about my favorite app to one ones surprise… Evernote.

When talking about productivity is it any wonder that I save the productivity wonder-app for my final in the series of 13 apps for a more productive 2013?

The amazing thing about Evernote is how flexible it is.

Evernote is a very simple and easy to use program. One of the problems I had early on with Evernote was it was so simple that I didn’t really see all the power Evernote had.

Evernote can do anything from store all your business cards and meeting notes, all the way to acting as a full transaction coordinator.

If I had a few pieces of advice for Evernote newbies looking to take it to the next level they would be:

  • Search what others are doing
  • Put EVERYTHING into it for 30 days to really get in the habit
  • Harness the power of note-linking

And of course if you are in real estate you may want to check out my “Complete Guide to Using Evernote for Real Estate” ebook.

That is it, that is 13 apps I think could make for a more productive 2013. Of course there are other apps, but these are 13 I am excited about right now.


Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

13 apps for a more productive 2013 Day 8: Sign Easy

Heading out of 2012 and into 2013 I am highlighting one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 8 and today I’m going to introduce you to SignEasy.

If you have been reading Productivity Agent for a while you have probably heard me talk about SignEasy before. I wrote about it in depth about a month ago so I am not going to rehash everything I wrote then.

Take a look at this post on SignEasy if you want more information but here is is the quick lowdown on who should be using SignEasy for a more productive 2013.

If you use Evernote, a tablet computer, and you need to either fill out information on PDF’s or get signatures often, then SignEasy is for you.

I love how easy SignEasy integrates with Evernote. But if you are not an Evernote user, and are a Dropbox or user, SignEasy works for you too!

How SignEasy really changed my workflow was with the ability to easily grab a PDF out of Evernote, edit and sign it, and put it right back into the appropriate Evernote notebook.



Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

13 productivity apps for 2013, Day 1: Everbot

EDITOR’S NOTE: Everbot is now Powerbot!

2013 is 13 days away. So for the next 13 days I am going to release one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 1 and today I’m going to introduce you to my newest app, Everbot.

If you have ever taken one of my Evernote classes, or seen my video on how I manage my task management in Evernote, you know I forward numerous emails a day from Gmail to Evernote.

Over time I have become very efficient at doing so. I have mastered the short cuts of adding @NotbeookName and #Tag to send the note directly where I want.

But now there is a new tool that will do that for me, and more.

Introducing Everbot!

Everbot is a browser extentension that works with both Google Chrome and Firefox. I hear it works with Safari too, but I have not confirmed it. And if you are an IE user… time to move on.

Everbot works directly with my Gmail account. I have the Google Apps version of Gmail and have heard some people have had problems installing it. It took me about 3-4 times of opening and closing Google Chrome, but eventually it installed.

And while it was a pain to get working the first time, it is a pain I would gladly go through again to get the final results.

What does Everbot do?

Send threads or individual emails

As you can see in the image above, Everbot will add two new buttons to your Gmail account. With those buttons you can either send (1) a full email thread or (2) just a single message from an email thread straight to Evernote.

Everbot will bring up all of your Notebooks and allow you to pick which you want to send the message to. You can also add tags and notes as seen below.

My one complaint about Everbot, I am not sure what they are using to order your Notebooks when they give you the list. I think the newest Notebooks are at bottom, but I am not 100% certain that is always the case.

The one thing they should change with the next release is at least putting the Notebooks in alphabetical order.

But wait, there is more…

Another great feature with Everbot is the ability to add a Note from your Evernote account into an email you send from within Gmail.

Insert Notes from within Gmail

As you an see, when you hit Compose you now have the option to Insert Evernote Notebook/Note.

Many times I will email a note to a client or cross agent or my broker from within Evernote. One of the drawbacks from this is Evernote does not have my email signature inside the program.

Now I can just go to my regular email account, select insert and select the note I want to send to someone.

This feature is fantastic for sharing!

Linking Everbot to your Gmail and Evernote account

If you are like me, you may have multiple Google Apps Gmail accounts. One of my favorite things about Everbot is it will link to all of your accounts.

When I was linking Everbot to my Evernote account I had to open in one tab of Google Chrome and log into my account. This was the only way I could get it to accept my account. Also I had to shut down and restart Chrome completely once during the setup, your results may vary.


So getting Everbot to work the first time was not the easiest thing in the world. But after a few little stuggles I have to say it was well worth the effort. I have only had Everbot for two days as I am writing this post, but already it is becoming one of my favorite apps.

Also Everbot is new, and with new comes some performance issues. If you run into any give a shout out and maybe the guys from Everbot can help.

Are you using Everbot? If so let me know if you are doing anything out of the ordinary.


Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

If you are an Evernote user and a real estate agent you will want this

Have you heard I have this little Evernote crush? Unless this is your first time here then of course you have.

One thing I really have not explored is signing documents in Evernote.

Sure I can pull them out on my iPad, open them up into PDFExpert and sign then get them back into Evernote. But there should be an easier way right?

There is. Let me introduce you to SignEasy.

SignEasy is an app for your iPad, iPhone or Android device.

As you can see in the picture below SignEasy does not only work with Evernote, but also Dropbox and


When you first log in you will want to set up your signature and initials for your own use.

Also in the image below you will see the settings wheel in the top left corner.

You are going to want to click on the settings wheel and enter your Evernote email address in the auto-forward signed files. This way whenever you or a client sign a document it will automatically be sent to your Evernote account too!

SignEasy will save your signature, and if you are concerned you may lose your device and an app has your signature saved, you can add a passcode for added security.


To sign a document you head to the My Documents section on the main page.

You will notice a few sections on the left hand column. “Add a document”, “Original Documents” and “Signed Documents”.

We will get to them all, but let’s start out with Add a document.

From here it will ask you if you want to grab the document from Dropbox,, Evernote or from your email.

When you select Evernote it will give you a list of your Notebooks.

When you pull in a document it will save it into your Original Documents section.

Notice in the upper right hand corner is the “Sign” button.

When you click on Sign, if it is a multi-page document it will ask you what page you would like to sign.

Once the page is selected in the upper right you will see a pen, that is your signing options icon and you can enter

  • Signature
  • Initials
  • Date
  • Text
  • Checkbox
  • or an Image
When you select Signature or Initials it will ask you if you want to enter your signature (the saved one you have for you), signature of a 2nd person, or signature of a 3rd person.
When you select Text, enter your text, select done and it will place the text on the top of your document, from there you drag it to where you want to place it. Notice below, if the text is not the size you want, there is a button you can drag left or right to increase or reduce the size of the text.
Also when you select text notice the clock icon on the bottom right here. That is a history icon which will show you the last 25 things you entered for text. Great time saver!
While we are on the topic of timesavers take a look at the person icon in the image above. That is a short cut for saved information. In the settings sections of the application (mentioned earlier in this post), there is a section for Personal Details and Custom information. In the Personal Details section you can add your name, email and company and with this section.
In the Custom Information you can add any text that you may use on a regular basis that you want to save time typing. some examples may be cell phone, office phone, fax, real estate license, office address, or anything else you may need often. This can be a great time saver.


When you enter Text and click on the person icon for personal information here is what you will see. Notice the information in the drop down menu is the same as the information I entered above.


When you are entering text, after you place it on the document you where you need it to be you will press Save, then click the pen icon if you need to enter more text.

After you are completed with any text and signatures needed you will click on Finish in the upper right corner.

You will be given the option of completing signing or saving as a draft. This saving as a draft is a great feature if you happen to be somewhere without an internet connection. This way you can save it, then when you have your connection it can be saved and emailed out and placed in your Evernote or Dropbox account.

Original Documents vs Signed Documents

Under the Documents section I mentioned there is an Original Documents and Signed Documents section.

Notice above I now have a “3rd party” and a “listings” document in both sections. Think of the “Original Documents” section as a template section.

The “listings” document you see above is a MLS printout of some houses. Am I ever going to reuse that with new clients? No, not those same houses. I can then hit edit, select “listings” and delete that from Original Documents.

Now the “3rd party” is a document I will use with multiple clients.  I want to save the 3rd party in my Original Documents so each time I use that it is waiting for me right there, and after I have my clients sign it, it will save to Signed Documents.


When I save the signed document I just did, notice it saved it named as 3rd party in the Signed Documents section. What I need to do now is in the lower section do a long press, or a press and hold on 3rd party and rename it. So next time I use the 3rd party it will not overwrite the one I just did because it has the same name.

Also you will notice when you hit the Edit button and select a file you will have the option to either delete the file or send it via email


The app is currently on sale until the end of 2012 for $9.99 a year. I highly recommend if you are avid Evernote user and you need to sign documents from your Evernote account often (like me) you get it now!

No, I do not make a penny off you getting it, I just love the service and think you will too!

Can you see yourself using this? If so, how?

My new favorite reason to go with Evernote Premium

Most of you probably know I consider myself somewhat of an Evernote-a-holic. I have looked for 12 step plans to cure this addiction, but I have not found any yet online that I can clip with my Evernote webclipper and add to my Evernote to-do list.

There are two versions of my favorite app, a free version and a premium version. The premium version is $45/year or $5/mo. I would gladly pay significantly more than that, but dont tell Evernote founder Phil Libin that :).

So what do you get for only $45/year?

  • 1GB of upload a month vs. 60mb on the free version
  • Access to your Notebooks offline
  • Your PDF’s become searchable (worth it for this reason alone)
  • Your processes jpeg images are searchable quicker
  • The customer support inquiries receive priority responses
  • You get a PIN lock for your iPad and phone
  • The service is add free
  • The sharing Notebook functionality allows others to edit and collaborate better

But wait, don’t order yet because you will also receive…

Clearly text-to-speech!

Have no idea what I am talking about, well then read on because it is worth it.

Evernote has a program called Clearly which is a browser extension that allows you to clean up a page so when you save it to your Evernote account it is a lot cleaner. Here is an example of the same story before and after Clearly was applied.

Before Clearly applied

After Clearly applied

Same story from the same site, but obviously the second one with Clearly is much easier to read.

Now enter text-to-speech.

You will notice on the right of Clearly there are controls to hit play, fast forward and rewind.

After you hit play Clearly starts to read the article to you, you can go do something else while listening to it, or just sit and listen.

I am very much an auditory learner, so for me this is huge. I am in love with this new feature and just one more reason I am willing to be a premium user of Evernote.



Evernote 5 issues fixed with new release of 5.0.1. Upgrade now!

When Evernote 5 was released for Mac I watched the promotional videos like everyone else and I was excited. The new layout design looked much nicer than the old design. Many of the new features looked great.

Then I actually installed the Beta update and played with it.

Happy I was not (said in my best Yoda voice).

In my estimation Evernote messed up big time on functionality with a few of the changes, and I made note in a few Facebook groups, including the Evernote for Real Estate Group, I was not a fan and even urged some to wait until the issues were fixed.

Well one of the things I love about Evernote, they make changes and they make them quickly!

I was notified this morning there was a new 5.0.1 version of Evernote for my Mac and here are the fixes:

  • Drag-and-drop Notes onto Notebooks and Tags in the Sidebar (yeaaaa, one of my big complaints)
  • Added an option to show Not counts in the Sidebar (yeaaaa and see below for directions)
  • Added a Trash button to the Note Editor

Now there is one thing I still wish they would fix that they have not fixed. I still cannot on the left sidebar drag a Notebook on top of another Notebook to create a stack. Nor can I drag a Notebook from one stack to another. But I can easily do that now in the second column after I select Notebooks on the left column. The functionality is much better than it was yesterday!

To get your note count back on the left sidebar to go Evernote in the toolbar, click on Preferences and then check ‘Show note count in sidebar’.

I now fully suggest users of Evernote for Mac upgrade to 5.0.1.

How to auto-import into Evernote

One of the great things about Dropbox is you can set a folder right on your desktop and quickly save anything into your Dropbox account by moving it to your Dropbox folder.

Did you know you can do something similar with Evernote? Well you can.

There was a conversation about this subject this morning in the Evernote for Real Estate Facebook group (join it here) so I thought I would share how to set this up for both Mac and PC.

If you have my e-book Complete Guide of using Evernote for Real Estate you can find this starting on the bottom of page 37 in version 1.2.

The directions for setting this auto-import feature up on PC’s is pretty easy. Much easier than it is for us Mac users.

Once you create an auto-import folder, any time you save anything into that folder on your PC it will save automatically to your Evernote account.

PC Users

  • Create a folder and name it “Add to Evernote”
  • In Evernote go to Tools -> Import Folders -> Add
  • Select “Add to Evernote” folder and hit OK
  • You can now select if you want to include subfolders
  • Select the notebook to import to in Evernote
  • Choose if you want to delete files from the Add to Evernote folder after they are imported

Note: You can create multiple auto-import folder and have them all import to different notebooks if you like.

Mac Users

There is a hack that allows Mac users to create something similar on your machines. I will give you the link, but I take no responsibility if anything goes wrong.

I did use this and found it easy to set up, but everyone’s ability level is a little different.

Here is the link with directions to set it up on a Mac.

Here is a video I found very helpful when I set mine up.

This is not the exact same as the Windows auto-import, but this does allow you to right click on any file and just send the document directly to Evernote and create a new note. It will add it to an “Auto Import” notebook in your Evernote notebooks.