Executive Hacks: 12th March 2017

I have been a firm fan of Evernote for years. I have recently ditched Dropbox in favour of Google Drive, which integrates better with my various Android phones and tablets. However I have recently revived my Pocket usage, and added Feedly for the first time. How can you use Evernote, Pocket and Feedly together to multiply value?

Of course, all three services link together. Strictly speaking, Evernote links directly to Feedly but not to Pocket. Although on a mobile platform, it is super easy to send content from Pocket to Evernote using the normal ‘share’ button. But anyway, Pocket does connect to Feedly. If you want to bridge the small gap that exists between Pocket and Evernote, you can fall back on IFTTT which can link all kinds of other services as well. Still with us?

So there are some odd gaps in which services link to others. It is worth now reviewing the main purposes of each service, as specified by themselves.

Evernote

I think of Evernote as my external brain. It contains all those notes and scraps of information you cannot live without. I use it to organise all my personal and work projects, particularly research work and my writing jobs. But it can also clip and store entire web pages. And it can store full documents in PDF and other formats. So it has overlaps with…

Pocket

Pocket started life very simply. To store web pages you want to read later, possibly while on the move. In a way that Evernote does not, it provides a very strong mobile reading experience and its own browser. One of the vital links between your laptop or desktop research and your mobile phone or tablet, it is very, very strong at this. Its main rival is Instapaper which is now completely free. But you will already know what we think about ‘free’ these days.

Feedly

So if Evernote is your brain and Pocket is your mobile reading tool and web page archive, what is left for Feedly? The killer use here is RSS feeds. If you have to consume a lot of information for work, chances are the sites you use provide content in the form of an RSS feed. For years it looked like RSS would die, but it never did. Feedly is the only true RSS manager of these three. However it can also be used to store web pages for later, and it works as a news and current affairs aggregator, just as Pocket does.

Can You Manage Without?

The killer question is which would I choose, if only one were available? Evernote. Without hesitation. It has a web clipping tool and does a passable job of providing a human-friendly mobile reading experience. But it lacks proper RSS support. Another feature I use all the time is the ability to send emails direct to your Evernote account. Pocket does this too.

How Do They Work Together?

If you are any kind of knowledge worker, journalist, writer, researcher, student, you will find uses for all three tools. All of them have a free option, but you will soon be enticed by their premium options if you love them as much as I do.

Their core offerings do not overlap, and if you start in this way you will gradually learn how to fit each tool best around your approach to work. I use Feedly only for arranging my regular RSS feeds, and not for storing web pages. I use Pocket for that. For everything else, including first drafts of articles and for clipping information from my research, I use Evernote.

Mobile

All three services provide apps for Android and iOS. I am an Android fan and can recommend all of them. However, it is Evernote’s Android app that seems to be lagging the others. It does a passable job, but its bright green colour scheme is starting to look dated. They have totally rewritten their excellent Windows and iOS apps, so I am certain that an Android refresh is on the way. Pocket and Feedly just feel more modern and more slick to use, especially on Google Pixel.

Go forth! And don’t believe me. Ever. I found this very nice article when I was researching this topic. It has a neat diagram which helped me a lot. Read here…

And here is the nice graphic. No doubt someone will comment that the new Dropbox Paper app is a really great alternative, and it is. But it is very new, and closely tied to Dropbox. Which, as I use Google Drive mostly, is a slight concern. Evernote seem to be cosying towards Google in a way that is beyond just a partnership.

One workflow that makes a lot of sense