Archives: Software & Tools

Airdroid 3 gives you Android “Continuity”

Airdroid 3 gives you Android “Continuity”

One of the selling features of Apple’s eco-system with OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 is continuity. It’s such a fantastic feature that I nearly dumped Android for iOS (because I have a MacBook Air).

It’s a lovely feature that when you’re writing an email on your desktop/laptop and move to your phone or tablet, you get a little icon on your screen which reminds you that you were writing that email, and you should probably finish. (This feature works vice versa too)

For me, the real fantastic thing was being able to make and take phone calls from my laptop. I was mind=blown. I needed to have it… That was until I actually test run iOS 8 and totally hated it.

The other night, my fiancé was playing with Airdroid 3, an app for Android which we used to drop music and photos from our computer to our phones and vice versa. But Airdroid has experienced a revamp.

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Using Evernote to Budget

Using Evernote to Budget

Evernote, traditionally, is a note taking application, but it can be used for many other things if you’re creative. One such way is budgeting.

But how can one use a note taking app for budgeting?

I’m glad you asked. Because I do it. I dislike having to use too many applications to do stuff, simply because I forget to use them. And that’s much more normal than I’d like to believe. So to combat that, I simplified my life by simplifying my applications.

I’ve been a big Evernote fan since I discovered it about three years ago, but it’s only in the last year or so I’ve been really using it, and now, I’m a premium user, because I use it literally for everything now.

So how can one use the green elephant for budgeting?

Please note that I’m using Evernote for Mac for this article.

Wish Lists

Recently, I moved all my Amazon wishlist items to my Evernote, with some help of the Evernote Clipper for Safari. I was amazed by all the stuff I’d like to purchase, but completely forget to because I don’t really use my Amazon wishlist.

So now I have all these items in a notebook called ‘Wishlist’. I even have stuff that I find in local shops in there using Evernote’s quick shot and location services. If I wanted to get something at the end of the month I’d just add a reminder to it.

Which brings me to monthly budgeting…

Month to Month Budgets

So by now you’re probably wondering how this fits into budgeting. It’s really simple. Some like to plan months in advance, others (like me) prefer a month-to-month plan.

Create a notebook called budget (just so that it’s separate from everything else); this is where all your monthly budgets will live. Name them by the month they are for (January, February, etc. ). I just have one note which gets recycled every month, but everyone works differently.

Set a reminder to that budget’s note for the first of the month it’s for. This will ensure it’s always at the top of your Evernote when you’re viewing all notes (great for getting to it quickly) and if you’re using multiple budget notes then it will be in order of date. If you use Evernote for work and other things, it will be separated from everything else in Notebook view.

So, I have a checklist for all the monthly fixed expenses (rent/mortgage, utility bills, car loan, etc.). Make sure this is at the top of the list, because that is what you have to pay first. Then your second tier of priorities will come in.

Remember all those notes you saved in your wishlist? This is where they come into play. Go to your wishlist and select the notes containing the items you’d like to purchase for this budget. Click create table of contents note. Now go to that note, select all, and past it under your checklist in your budget note. Then highlight that second tier list and add checkboxes to it. You can even rearrange them into an order of priority, and add a numbered list (even with the checkboxes).

Now you have your monthly budget plan done. Complete with checkboxes (stick that to Excel spreadsheets!)

In terms of calculating figures, you’ll have to do that manually. Evernote does not have functions for its tables (yet!). I just have a cost next to the item on the note. If you want, at the top of the note you can put in your income figure, savings figures (because you need to save money for a rainy day), and expense total figures. This will give you a brief summary of what you have to spend that month.

Planning for the Future

When you’re using one note for budgeting, it’s important that you separate the second tier of priorities by month. Around the 20th of the month, I’d (try to) sit down and plan my second tier of expenses under my current month’s budget and put in a horizontal line so I won’t mix it up.

This is helpful because some months, I can afford to get something from the list I have for next month. Most months, I’m just bad with spending regardless of what budget tactics I use. This does help me, but only to a point; after that, it’s entirely up to controlling my impulsive shopping habits (I NEED that additional *insert random tech/gaming thing here* because it will *insert stupid excuse I will regret at the end of the month here*).

Note: when you get something from your wishlist, remember to delete it from your wishlist. By leaving it there, it will do is clutter your notebook which will then become less efficient to use, and you might just stop using it altogether.


Tracking Expenses Month-to-Month

Like Excel you can track your expenses in Evernote too. To do this you need to create a table.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 2.03.59 AMI am not the best at math, not even with a calculator, so don’t sue me if the total figures are wrong.

This is helpful, especially if you like to see how much you really spent and how much you saved against your income. It’s an eyeopener for a lot of people.

In conclusion…

Now the most important factor, with all tools, is remember to use it, and use it often. If you’re not an Evernote user, then this post would not make a difference to you. But you can apply the same concept to another application and get similar results. The point is, whatever you use, you have to use it efficiently for it to be effective.

Good luck and happy budgeting!



If you have any questions or comments, you can send me a note via the website contact page or tweet to me (@desireroberts).
Using an Evernote @inbox Notebook to Get Sh*t Done

Using an Evernote @inbox Notebook to Get Sh*t Done

If it wasn’t completely obvious, I use Evernote a lot. And with using Evernote a lot, you get to develop a lot of tricks to keeping yourself organised.

At the time of writing this, I have 1800 notes in my Evernote. It’s not a lot because I delete a lot of notes when I’m done with them (I’ve got over 1000 in the trash right now) and no longer need them (like published blog posts). I use Evernote to help me plan my days ahead, and projects. The native reminder system is very good for that.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 1.45.36 AM

While I’m writing or working, I remember little things that I have to do, or article ideas, or things I need to follow up on. Instead of stopping what I was doing, looking for a pen and notepad to write these things down (I’m usually on my laptop) I just use the Evernote Helper and it goes straight into my Evernote, without having to close any programs.

More so, I use the global keyboard shortcut for it to increase efficiency.

Also, while I’m reading on Feedly or the web, I clip/share things to Evernote all the time. From articles, to clippings of articles I want to blog-response about, to items I want to purchase, everything gets clipped and set to the green elephant for sorting.

You must think my Evernote is a mess! Actually it isn’t. I created a notebook called ‘@inbox’ as my default folder which I sort through every day. For each note, I make any further notes, add reminders if they need to be actioned, delete them if I already did them, and move them to the appropriate notebook.

Appropriate notebook? What?

I use Evernote for work, blogging, school, budgeting, personal planning, wardrobe ideas, et cetera. Each of these are actually a notebook stack, each comprising of various notebooks of subset topics. It’s like inception: a note in a notebook in a notebook stack. Once you start using Evernote more, you’ll see the benefit of this model, but that’s the catch 22: in order for it to be useful, you have to use it often.

Within each of these notebook stacks or aspects of my life, I have an ~Inbox: *insert stack name*. This contains the stuff which needs to be done; it’s high rotation, meaning, stuff in there usually gets deleted when the task is done. When I notice that I have a lot of tasks for one thing in particular (say, website maintenance) then I’ll create a notebook just for that, under the appropriate stack.

This should help you visualise my madness:


So, if the note in @inbox has a task which is personal, it will get put into my personal stack’s ~Inbox, and if it’s work related, the work stack’s ~Inbox.

So why ‘@inbox’? Why not just inbox?

The @inbox folder is not inside of a stack, it lives alone. The purpose of the ‘@‘ sign is to ensure it’s at the very top of the list at all times. Remember that Evernote sorts things alphanumerically, so special characters are up top, then numbers (0-infinite), then letters (a-z of course).

How to you manage tasks in Evernote? Send me a note or tweet to me @desireroberts 🙂
Why I love Evernote

Why I love Evernote

Have you ever had a thought and then when you went to jot it down it’s all gone? Well, my thought train moves so quickly it gets pretty hard to keep up, which I why I started using Evernote in the first place. I have an Android phone, which means I get an Evernote widget on my homescreen, and because it’s been rooted and hacked ten ways to Sunday, I also get a widget on my lockscreen, ensuring that I can jot down my thoughts as fast as my brain moves.

So, with all the apps out there, why Evernote, right? Well, for starters, I’m typing this article (as with most of my articles) on my Macbook Air, with my Evernote application… but I sometimes write on my tablet, or phone, both with Evernote for Android. But what if I changed operating systems? Oh! No worries, Evernote has apps for Windows and iOS too. And if all else fails, there is a web application I can use from a browser. And there is more… it’s FREE. F. R. E .E. 🙂

I need to say that the new Evernote for Android app looks and feels great… I love it.

I’m a big fan of Google (who isn’t?!), and used to love Google Drive and Docs, but there is a place for that. Evernote is my secret haven, where I have just about everything, from my blog notes, to my projects, and my shopping lists. Google Docs I use for collaboration, when I’m working on something with other people, since you can clearly see who edited what, where and when. Evernote has a collaboration tool I think, but I’ve never used it, I don’t think it’s free and from what I heard it’s not as easy to use as Google Docs for everyone. I try to keep it simple with people who are not as tech-savvy as I am.

Evernote is my most used application.

Evernote has clean, almost distraction free writing, although, WordPress actually has distraction-free writing, which I would love to see here. But what I do like is the ability to quickly create a new note while I’m writing something. No thoughts go lost any more.

There is this wonderful thing called Notebooks, where I can organise various notes on the same topic into notebooks and then I can stack those notebooks into a notebook stack and group them all together. Oh, the possibilities… It’s an OCD haven. It may sound complicated but it’s not really, once you start using it exclusively. You need to get a few notebooks together before it really starts taking shape.

Reminders are relatively new to Evernote, but it was the best addition they have had for a while. With reminders, I can now add a date to a note, and keep track of it, making Evernote more of a project management tool than it was before. This was a great addition to my blogging too, which now allows me to sort of “flag” an article, and place a date to publish on it, keeping me on top of all my tasks.

What I do want to see on Evernote is a visible word count. I’m certain they have been asked this before, but I’ll have to say it again: a visible word count should be made available on the apps, because I can just glance up and see how close I am to my word limit without having to move away from my writing and click on the little ‘info’ icon. With writing essays, any distraction can derail you completely; so a visible word count would be ideal. With blogging, I have to write in Evernote, then when I get to WordPress I edit to stay within my desired word count. I would like to just write here, then copy my work and slap it on WordPress, put in the final touches and hit publish. It should be so that when I leave Evernote, it is just to Bold, Highlight, make Header, add Read More Tag, etc. in WordPress and no real editing.

I can’t write 600 words on why I love Evernote, it’s just not enough space (and there is a world of people who agree with me on this). But, I’ll write an Evernote series, and show the different ways I use Evernote for just about everything. And if someone from Evernote is reading this, please remember the visible word counter; it will change the way I write forever!

Organise & Simplify your Life

Organise & Simplify your Life

With all of today’s technology, we’re spread out over at least three devices; the work computer, your personal laptop/desktop and your smartphone, not to mention tablet(s), some people have multiple phones, etc.  Then you have a million apps. For tasks, you have Remember the Milk, Out of Milk, Wunderlist, etc. For notes you have Google Docs, Google Keep, Evernote, Mac Notes, etc. This list can go on and on. 

I’ve found a way to simply MY life, which (if you know me personally) really needs to stay as simple and as organized as possible. I use as little apps as I can, because honestly, who remembers to check the fifty-something apps you have in your app drawer. I know I don’t. Notifications don’t always work for me; half the time I ignore them. I use a few applications to manage my crazy life: Calendar, Evernote, Mail, Google Contacts, and GeekTool to make everything wonderfully efficient. I am not a write-things-down kinda gal because I will leave that list on the table where I wrote it – but my smartphone is always with me no matter what. 

Most people spend half their day using tools to get organized, than actually being organized.  <—Truth! 

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