Create the ultimate reference library in Evernote

Paul Boag

The chances are that if you are reading this, you are a knowledge worker. In other words you are paid for the things you know. The question is how do you effectively maintain and organise that knowledge?

People hire me for the things I know about the web and digital strategy. They expect me to be the fount of all knowledge in this area and be absolutely up to date with latest innovations. The problem is my memory stinks.

I regularly read something and then forget it or see an amazing site and find myself unable to recall where I saw it. When your livelihood is based on your ability to recall information this isn’t good enough.

Using Evernote to enhance my memory

If you have read some of my previous posts you will know I have solved this problem by using Evernote. If I read an article that contains useful information I clip it to Evernote. If I hear a quote or statistics it gets added to my Evernote reference library. If I see a great site I take a screenshot and drop it into my inspiration gallery.

Then when I need to remind myself about a particular subjects or want some stats to back up a hypothesis it is only a search away.

I have become a horder of valuable information and Evernote is where I keep my stash. It’s indispensable and I am amazed more people don’t use it.

I think part of the problem is that people don’t see it’s potential. They cannot imagine what a valuable resource it becomes. So in the spirit of the open web I am going to show you. I am going to give you access to just a portion of the data I have collected in Evernote and tell you about some of the rest. Hopefully this will give you a taste of the kinds of information I am collecting, reviewing and referring to on an ongoing basis. Perhaps then you will see why we should all be collecting and organising the knowledge we build our careers on rather than trying to hold it all in our heads.

Reference imagery

One of the biggest uses of Evernote for me is to collect imagery that inspires me and could be used on a design project. I have organised these into a number of notebooks that I want to share with you. These are:

Reference subjects

I also have numerous notebooks on different subject material from Agile and mobile to business strategy and psychology.

To give you a taste of the kind of data I capture, checkout the information on Agile I have collected.


It’s often useful to quote other experts when working with clients. I therefore keep a notebook of quotations which I use for this purpose but also as a source of inspiration I review occasionally.


We all keep bookmarks of web pages with valuable content. However these are often distributed across multiple devices or on a service like delicious. By keeping them on Evernote they are searchable alongside all of my other reference material and I can also add considerably more details than a normal bookmarking service would allow.

Tips, tricks and tools

Finally I also have notebooks dedicated to tips, tricks and tools. This contains all kinds of little snippets of code, life hacks and business processes that can come in useful from time to time.

But why stop there?

Creating a library of reference material doesn’t need to stop at work. You can also build a library of personal material too. For example I have notebooks dedicated to:

So if you are employed not for the things you build, but for the knowledge you have, then I would encourage you to build a repository of that knowledge rather than just keeping it all in your head. What I have shared with you above is just a fraction of what I have collected and hopefully even that small glimpse has inspired you.

If you already have a similar repository why not share what you can of it and perhaps post a link to it in the comments below.