Use Evernote to Organize Your Troubleshooting Efforts

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The next time you're troubleshooting a problem, create an Evernote notebook to store related data.
A while back I mentioned a vexing problem I was having with my speedy new HP desktop: Once a week or so, it would slow to a crawl. I spent weeks trying resolve the problem, but nothing worked. Eventually I threw in the towel, at least for a while.

A few weeks later, when the slowdowns had driven me insane enough to revisit the issue, I couldn't remember what troubleshooting steps I'd tried, what online forums I'd visited, or what promising leads had turned into dead ends. I was more or less back to square one, largely because my problem-solving efforts lacked organization.

Enter Evernote, which I'm rapidly starting to recognize as one of the Web's all-time best services. Though it's really nothing more than a tag-based note manager, it makes capturing and synchronizing those notes a breeze. And that makes it invaluable for all kinds of organization.

(I'm not the only one around here who loves it. Check out David Coursey's mash note to Evernote.)

The service provides several ways to add a note to one of your notebooks. You can create text in a Web form (or paste text into it from another source). You can "clip" portions of Web pages using the Evernote bookmarklet (or, if you're a Firefox user, the Evernote extension). You can use the Evernote desktop app (available for both Windows and Mac). Finally, you can add notes on your iPhone or Windows Mobile smartphone (which also allow you to upload snapshots, a very handy amenity).

You can assign each note to one or more notebooks and apply one or more tags. But the real beauty of Evernote is the way it keeps all your notes in sync between desktop, Web, and mobile device.

Anyway, back to PC troubleshooting. During my second attempt to fix my problem, I used Evernote every step of the way. While browsing user forums, I "clipped" posts that offered potential solutions. When I made a change to my system, I made note of it in a new note. And holy guacamole, did all this make life easier.

Thus, I highly, highly recommend using Evernote the next time you troubleshoot your own problem. Certainly the service can be used for countless other tasks, but I found it invaluable for this one. Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it, Evernote is free.

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