Didn’t I save this to Evernote?
I’ve wondered about that question many times and after some tinkering with Reflect (reflectapp.io) I can say that, yes…I have.
Reflect lets you review your Evernote notes on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. A great thing about Evernote is that it keeps everything organized for me. The bad things about Evernote is that it’s like my junk drawer. Stuff is in there, if only I can find it.
One of those messy notebooks is my Common Place one, inspired by Ryan Holiday. It’s the notebook I put any notes about anything interesting. There are book reviews, podcast notes, articles, and long quotes from interviews, stand-up, and more. I put things there to reference while writing, but with 200+ notes it was a case of; you don’t know what you don’t know. If I couldn’t remember that I saved something, I wasn’t going to find it.
Reflect is a web-based review system. To get started you create an account, connect your Evernote account, and then set up a new filter. A filter is where you choose what notebook to review notes from, what tags you want, and the frequency. For my Common Place folder, I review five notes a day and it’s been a great help.
The interface on the app is nice and clean. No distractions, just the content. There is a Google Chrome extension for Reflect which opens in a layer over your browser and if you choose to do the review it opens a new window. There are also email and pop-up reminders which makes forgetting to review your notes difficult.
Here’s one of the ways I’ve used Reflect. A current writing project I’m working on is about Stoicism and the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ve been clipping stoic ideas and articles for two years, which means some of the good ideas are buried in the middle of that note-stack. The regular review process helps me find those ideas and also shifts my attention toward things I wanted to write about but haven’t yet. Reflect draws me towards all of that, which is incredibly convenient.
Besides the convenience of reviewing my notes for writing and a dose of serendipity for some long sought idea, there is good science behind the idea of regular reviews. Dr. Barbara Oakley wrote the entertaining and informative A Mind for Numbers about how we learn to learn, and one key part was building neural connections. Essentially, think of going to a website. First you have to type in the URL, then login, then set up your account. After the first time you probably know the URL and the login process will be easier. After enough repetition you’ll be scrolling through the site, cherry picking what you want. Dr. Oakley suggests that’s how we learn everything: do it, take a break, do it again, take another break. She suggests to not let things go untouched for more than a day. Reflect can help you with that (at least when it comes to dealing with Evernote).
If you want to make sure you keep on top of Evernote or are new to Evernote and are concerned will grow into an unwieldy mess, then give Reflect a try. It may very well help you create a more effective and efficient Evernote experience.