Evernote is like Twyla Tharp’s Boxes

Banker BoxIn the perennial productivity book for creatives, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Twyla Tharp explains her filing organisation /creativity project starter system:
“Everyone has his or her own organizational system. Mine is a box, the kind you can buy at Office Depot for transferring files.
“I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippins, CDs, videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me.
The box documents active research on every project….
There are separate boxes for everything I’ve ever done. If you want a glimpse into how I think and work, you could do worse than to start with my boxes.
The box makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet.
It also represents a commitment. The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I’ve started work.
The box makes me feel connected to a project. It is my soil. I feel this even when I’ve back-burnered a project: I may have put the box away on a shelf, but I know it’s there. The project name on the box in bold black lettering is a constant reminder that I had an idea once and may come back to it very soon.
Most important, though, the box means I never have to worry about forgetting. One of the biggest fears for a creative person is that some brilliant idea will get lost because you didn’t write it down and put it in a safe place. I don’t worry about that because I know where to find it. It’s all in the box….
They’re easy to buy, and they’re cheap….They’re one hundred percent functional; they do exactly what I want them to do: hold stuff. I can write on them to identify their contents… I can move them around… When one box fills up, I can easily unfold and construct another. And when I’m done with the box, I can ship it away out of sight, out of mind, so I can move on to the next project, the next box.
Easily acquited. Inexpensive. Perfectly functional. Portable. Identifiable. Disposable. Eternal enough.
Those are my criteria for the perfect storage system. And I’ve found the answer in a simple file box.”
Wow, I thought, as I read this. That’s why I like Evernote so much. It’s exactly like Twyla Tharp’s boxes.
  • Allows me to feel connected to a project.
  • Allows me to backburn (archive a project) knowing it’s still there. *
  • Evernote means I never have to worry about forgetting. No brilliant idea can get easily lost.
  • Easy to buy and cheap – actually, it’s free.
  • Do exactly what I want it to – hold stuff.
  • I can label, tag, move notebooks and notes around.
  • Portable – available on every mobile device I can think of.
  • Identifiable – with notebooks, stacks, notes, tags, word search

*This is a vitally important point not resolved by a cardboard box – cloud storage and backup.

Right now, New South Wales is suffering terribly with bush fires, the air outside is full of smoke all across Sydney, and there’s been no rain for weeks, with little forecast. Many people have lost their homes, one lost his life, and things are predicted to get worse. This is something an entire nation is watching, praying over, and also something I’m personally very aware of, given I live beside some bush which had a fire very close by this time last year.

My own Bush Fire Emergency Plans include what important items, and legacy items I must pack for emergency evacuations. Would that include hauling big cardboard boxes around in one car? Not likely. If you count the irrecoverable family photo albums, personal documents, and perhaps a laptop and external drive or flash drives containing important data, clothes, toiletries, and the pets –  that’s a car load already.

Evernote keeps my files backed-up on web servers. Those are memories from years ago also. At least I will know those will be safe.

Credits: The box image via Austin Kleon‘s tumblr post: Twyla Tharp’s Boxes. Austin says several times that he uses a box for organising his creative projects. Austin credits this post by Paul Harrill at  Self-Reliant Film for the full quote above from The Creative Habit, and got his own ideas from Merlinn Mann at 43Folders, also into Twyla’s boxes.

Evernote ReferralEvernote is a free cloud-based note-taker available across multiple platforms. If you don’t have it already, click on the Evernote links. This will also give you a free premium month of the service – so try out the sharing of notebooks and things available to you during the month. If you decide to move back to the completely free versions, you will still have many worthwhile functions for writers and creatives.

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