Never Note

I’m so irritated right now I could spit nails.

I use Evernote. And by that I mean I use Evernote for EVERYTHING… over the past decade the Evernote platform has become the de facto operating system of my life.

I scan receipts into it. Every statement from every service I use gets received & organized there. It contains my TODOs, my FYIs, my research, my scripts, my ideas… almost EVERYTHING I do, more or less, winds up in Evernote.

Which is why for the past year I’ve watched with mounting horror as the Evernote team has systematically fouled up their platform from one end to the other.

Evernote used to be tight, small, fast, and bulletproof. It synced immediately, flawlessly, everywhere. These days, the iOS app in particular is a nightmare. It is slow. It has serious sync problems. The search function just doesn’t work any more.

And just in the last hour, the final straw…

I spent an hour after lunch writing a post on my iPad for the Tribify blog. It was long, detailed, and sort of time critical as we are throwing an event tomorrow. As usual, I was drafting the article in Evernote.

I’d worked my way through 90% of the first draft when the phone rang. I spent 20 minutes on the phone, popped back to the iPad, and… the freaking article was GONE. It had rolled itself back to the first paragraph, the note history had never updated, and nothing I could think of could bring back the thousand-odd words of missing prose.

Abandoning Evernote would NOT be trivial for me. Undoing my dependency on it would be nearly as onerous as it was ESTABLISHING that dependency in the first place, over the course of a decade! But I’m getting started.

Case in point: I’m drafting THIS article on my iPad in Apple Notes. The app is lightweight, fast, and by all accounts NOT prone to losing stuff.

And I find I care a lot more about that right now than I do about having to deal with a second app.

Have you recently dumped Evernote? Got any advice for me? Please share it in the comments!

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  1. I don’t have advice, Jason, but I want to add a question to yours: are there any good alternatives to Evernote that anyone can vouch for? I haven’t started to consolidate my work yet and am looking for a good place to do so. 

  2. Sounds like a great opportunity to reach out to a principal at Evernote, explain their problem, and then work as a consultant on the solution. Oh wait, you wanted to get out of that kind of work!

    Take two: write a journal-like article about the Evernote tribe and why you’re leaving the tribe, and tools that are out there for finding new tribes! ;o)

  3. Not a developer myself but I used a well know technology that does exactly that and I stopped using it after several issues I had with it. I am using an outdated technology now for the finances. So long as you are tracking your finances – thus gets the job done then you are safe than sorry. Maybe the answer is find the alternative. A good CPA always matters too. 🙂

    1. No argument there, Marty. But the use case I’m talking about is more the wholesale information manager. The think I like about Evernote is that it is easy to dump things into it from every direction and then find them via search, handwriting recognition, etc. Or at least it WAS.

  4. Jason,
    I know your frustration first hand, and I’m sorry you have to deal with it! Many years ago I started using Microsoft’s onenote. It came with my Office subscription so why not (full disclosure, I’m a recovering Microsoft employee). It sync’s seamlessly across PC/MAC/iOS devices and the web interface isn’t half bad either.
    Switching platforms is a bummer. I’ve tried evernote and can see some nice features, but none were good enough to entice me away from onenote.
    Microsoft could screw it all up tomorrow, but for now it’s a great product.

    Good luck!

  5. Jason, as you may know, I worked in Silicon Valley for well over two decades. I’ve seen my share of hardware, software, apps, enterprise platforms – you name it – come and go because of the same issues you are experiencing with Evernote. I do have used Evernote since it’s inception. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: techie entrepreneurs are not the best at building and scaling companies. I use my example of Scott McNeely being the only CEO sun Microsystems ever had from its humble beginnings to it’s not so humble endings when it was sold to Oracle. The only thing that I use digitally that I will never give up his Kindle, as I read many books a year and fly all over the world. I will never take a bunch of books with me again. But all other software is up or grabs as long as the people building and developing them understand about scalability.

    1. Amen, brother! I’m hyper-aware of the scalability issue as we scale Tribify from zero to one to–at last!–SOME.

      This might be an odd thing to say, but I really mean it… once you’ve convinced a bunch of people to architect their lives around your product, you kind of have a MORAL obligation not to screw it up for them. If that means you have to scale more slowly until you can get it right–or at least right ENOUGH–then so be it.