How to turn Evernote into an Insight Bank


We need tools to manage our thoughts, data, information and knowledge to be able to find insights. A bit of structure and system could benefit you when seeking new ideas – and keeping track of them!

Having a Brain Bank is very useful. I have one on my Evernote. But ideas are a dime a dozen. What you need is an ‘Insight Bank’.

What’s an Insight Bank?

For practical purposes, I’ll tell you how I use Evernote to store insights.

From Brain Bank to Insight Bank

For me, an insight bank is where you keep observations about customer/client attitude changes, noticeable problems and/or problems that are not there yet but you see coming. This helps you organize your thoughts and connect the dots. (P.S. A better tool would be a combination of Evernote + MindManager. If you want to partner to build one, let me know!).

I use Evernote as both an Idea and Insight Bank. Here’s my breakdown of the folders I have:

  • Brain Bank. This is where I store ideas of whatever pops into my mind.
  • Clip Screens. Here I store screenshots of things I notice on the web as well as pictures I take with my camera.
  • DailyNotes. Here I store text snippets from articles, blog posts, etd. Or notes I take about things I notice.
  • ToWatchOutFor. Here I store notes of things I think are emerging but are not necessarily clear that need my constant attention.

Every weekend I go over these folders one by one. I then synthesize all those notes and write them on my “WeeklyNotes” folder. This folder has less files.

This system is in Beta. It is a work in progress and I tweak it constantly. The system is not limited to Evernote though. The benefits of using Evernote are amazing. But it should not end there. I still think we need better tools.

For example, I’ve recently started using Storify to experiment with text snippets collection. I think it could become a great ‘dot connection’ tool if it were easier to use.

Do you have an Insight Bank? What tool(s) do you use? Evernote power user? Please share your thoughts.

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  • Until just recently, I was using MindMeister in a very similar way as what you’ve described above. But after doing an “idea bank audit” I realized that I had half a dozen locations for my ideas so this past weekend I just switched over to EverNote.

    What helped to elevate my system from Brain Dump to a useful Insight Bank was the following breakthrough: I had various stages from “cold storage” all the way up “do this week” but I created some parameters in order to ascend an idea from one stage to the next.

    For example, in order for an idea to go from “cold storage” to “warm idea”, it needed to fit within one of four spheres in my life. (There were several other parameters, too). And, in order for it to ascend from “Near Term” to “Do This Week”, the idea needed to be actionable and have an estimated expense and an estimated ROI.

    I guess this sounds a little anal retentive but I have a ton of ideas, plus I’m overly optimistic, and I needed a framework to act on only some of them at once.

    • Hi Aaron @aaronhoos:twitter ,

      That’s an awesome process. Criteria/parameters are definitely necessary. I haven’t really established mine, so thanks for the tip. It’s definitely made me think!

      I use Mindjet in conjunction with Evernote, but it’s a much more passive tool for me.

      What would it take to create an API (bridge) between Evernote and Mindjet? I think it would be a powerful dot-connecting tool!



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