Tools for Translators: 10 ways to make Evernote work for you

Most people who spend time online have come across Evernote with its green elephant logo at this point — it’s a hugely popular service that routinely appears in the top downloads of every app store on the web. But just as often, I hear from people who tell me that “they really ought to figure out Evernote” or wish they understood it better. Which is a real shame because Evernote gets more useful the more time you spend with it — and as a freelance translator, I couldn’t imagine my life without this essential tool.

Here, then, are ten tips on how to make Evernote work better for any translator. Try them and see what I mean when I say that it’s changed my workflow and completely and increased my productivity immensely.

1. Collect and Store Your Translation Research

Translators deal with vast amounts of research, and the beauty of Evernote is that it can handle just about any type of information you can throw at it. Whether it’s text, Office documents, image files, PDFs, audio or webpages, you can store it in Evernote and easily retrieve it with a powerful search function. There are many ways to import documents: by hand, from your mobile device, with an automated watch folder, by email, and of course there’s the web clipper to easily store articles and web pages.

2. Keep Notes Organized with Tags and Notebooks

Stackable notebooks and a great tagging system make it easy to keep your projects organized. Personally, I’ve learned that it’s most efficient to keep it simple by using a combination of tags and notebooks and rely on the search for the rest. Depending on the size of your average translation project, you could create a notebook per project or client, or simply use one catch-all notebook for your research and use tags for individual topics.

3. Track Clients, Invoices, and Hours

With Evernote, it’s easy to create tables and checklists within notes, so one master note can keep track of invoices sent and payments received — or you can import your invoices individually and tag them “paid” when your money comes in. Create a saved search for untagged invoices to find out who isn’t paying on time.

4. Go Paperless

Life for information workers, including translators, is increasingly moving into the cloud. Evernote is a great way to the completely paperless office by keeping all your important documents online and available at all times. You can set up your scanner to import directly into Evernote — but you can even use your cell phone camera to transfer important paper documents and keep them at your fingertips. No filing cabinet required.

5. Use reminders to stop on top of deadlines

Evernote’s reminder feature lets you create notes that will trigger a notification at a specified time — a great way to warn you of looming deadlines.

6. Keep a notebook for fun stuff

In my own translation work, I often come across interesting tidbits that I want to follow up on later, when I’m not on the clock. Whether it’s a movie, book or website I’m interested in, I simply drop it into the “fun” notebook. Later, when I’m done with the deadline and the project is squared away, I look through my “fun” notes and check out things I would surely have forgotten about without Evernote — like this archive of 98 free Korean movies.

7. Use Evernote in different languages

Not everyone likes to work in an English environment. Evernote is already available in languages as diverse as Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Korean, Spanish, Thai and Turkish. If you feel inspired, you can even volunteer to make it available on more platforms in even more languages.

8. Go Global, Go Mobile

Translators are often also travelers, living between countries and cultures. With excellent mobile apps for all platforms, Evernote is perfectly suited to this lifestyle. Notes are always tagged by location, and by using the Atlas, you can easily search according to where a note was created or updated.

9. Collaborate seamlessly with others on your team

Shared notebooks and the new work chat feature allow you to collaborate with others on individual notes or entire notebooks. It’s an easy way to stay synched and share research, finished files, and cat pictures with your co-workers.

10. Go Premium

Basic Evernote functionality is available for free, but the premium plan (starting at $5/month) offers more upload space, PDF full-text searches, offline notebooks, presentation mode and other great value-added features.

How do you use Evernote for your translation work? Which features and tricks did we overlook? Which tools for translators would you like us to discuss next? Tell us in the comments!