Joey Sparks
3May/130

Why I Use Evernote As A Word Processor

Microsoft Publisher is more responsible than anything else for helping me see the value in using Evernote as a word processor.

Over four years ago, I switched to Mac (best technology move I've ever made). And while I bought MS Office for Mac, it does not come with MS Pubilsher. So I essentially lost access to years of Bible Class/sermon notes and packets/details for youth events.

(They're not lost altogether, I just can't access them easily. It requires loading them on a PC of someone else's--where I could then export as a .pdf--or trying to convert them. I've not tried the latter option, so I'm not 100% that would even work.)

Enter Evernote. It's cleanly designed and works smoothly. Here are the things I enjoy about using Evernote to type anything and everything:

1. Accessibility. I don't have to be on my computer to access the files. And I don't even have to install Dropbox or another cloud-based file management application.

2. Backup. Notes are automatically stored (and thus "backed up") on the cloud. If something happens to my computer, I can still access the files through the internet.

evernote.com

evernote.com

3. Notes > files. I prefer the ease of searching through notes as opposed to searching for files through Mac Spotlight (as awesome as Spotlight is). They're already open, so I don't have to open and close files until I find the correct one.

4. Powerful, extensive search. Evernote searches text inside photos as easily as it does notes.

5. Fewer formatting options. I'm a designer. I'm all about visual appeal. But words are words. When I'm typing them, I don't need them to be pretty. If I'm being honest, seeing only text while I type helps me to focus on the content as opposed to any decorations I use. I can then easily and quickly copy and paste the text into Pages, Text Edit, or whatever for easy formatting. Not only is this not a hindrance, I prefer to think of it as a strength.

6. Organization. It's been easier for me to organize with Notebooks and tags than it is for me to use file folders on my hard drive. Much easier.

7. Memory. I love finding older notes I've saved in Evernote but forgotten about. I rarely do that with simple files and file folders.

8. Connect-ability. I can create notes by sending an email or tweet, using the Evernote web clipper, sharing from Feedly or my mobile browser, or directly through the application.

9. Integration of content. Most anything that I've typed and need to reference should already be in Evernote for easy access. Examples: illustration references and ideas, related articles (tags are so helpful with both of these areas), event details, and personal memories.

There are plenty of amazing new advancements in technology, but for my needs in word processing, I don't need bigger, faster, shinier, prettier. For me, Evernote is the opportunity to simplify and integrate.

What other ways do you use Evernote?

25Apr/130

Writing Well and Writing How

I've been told I write well.

College professors complimented my writing style when grading my assignments. Rarely do I write a bulletin article that someone doesn't tell me "good job," or "I liked that one." Amanda probably praises my writing ability and style more than any single strength of mine. I've even had a childhood friend praise my writing style, though he disagrees with much of what I've written.

I wouldn't dare suggest that praise is proof that I'm a good writer. But I do think I've learned throughout the years how to communicate in a clear, smooth, and enjoyable style. On that level, my on-again/off-again blogging habits are irresponsible stewardship of an ability with which the Lord has blessed me.

But this alleged "writing well" also provides a different dimension in the world of blogging. I know a lot of good writers who write blogs that stink. There are very few blogs--including popular ones--that I actually enjoy.

The blogs I enjoy most communicate a specific purpose, but are not predictable and formulaic. I can think of at least one such blog by someone I don't consider a great writer. But he (or she) is a fantastic blogger.

So it's possible part of my struggle with maintaining consistency at blogging (to a lesser degree than this) is that I've never approached this space with a sense of purpose.

I still don't know what my exact purpose for blogging should be. I know a few things I don't want it to be. And I have some ideas about what I might like for it to be.

Above all, I want to be helpful.

I have no desire to get another "Thanks for that post," "great job," or "someone needed to say this" about posts here. But my prayer is that from time-to-time, someone does something based on what they read here and it influences the kingdom, the community, or the world for good.

Our greatest struggles often aren't determining what to do. But a lot of us struggle with figuring out how. So I want to write not to write well, but to write how. Writing well easily becomes about me; but I want to write how so that it's about you. And about that someone you can help.

Again, I thank you for reading. Let's commit to helping one another. It is difficult to purposefully and consistently be helpful. But we all need it.

22Apr/132

Why I Don’t Blog More Often

"Joey has a good blog, but he doesn't update it often enough. Is that fair?" 

Words from a good friend while he was teaching ministers about blogging. It was and is a fair statement. I'm certainly aware that I don't post regularly. Not as regularly as I want. Nor as regularly as I should.

I'm not writing to apologize. And I'm not writing to make excuses. All I'm doing is telling you why:

I lack the self-discipline required to write and publish regularly.

That's not a new problem for me. And it's not reserved just for of blogging.

Like you, I'm well aware of both my strengths and weaknesses. I love to create. I love being artistic and how technology makes it easier to create art than ever before. And I enjoy writing because, for me, it is art. This is why I want to maintain a blog.

But I struggle to create the self-discipline I need to make it happen.

And I'm pretty certain God doesn't want me to stay this way. "The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks, and there is nothing." Proverbs 20:4

I'm not committing to doing anything in this post. I'm simply stating why I don't update it enough.

I know the Lord continues to open doors of opportunity and influence and I pray I use godly courage to commit to them. For now, it's my prayer this space continues to be such a door.

Thanks for your encouragement and for reading.

7Feb/130

Short, Helpful, and Transformational

In 20,000 Days And Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Now, Robert D. Smith gives us a short book so as not to waste much of our time, and what's better, he also writes in an entertaining style that makes the content digestible. I love that Smith's focus is upon practical, actionable steps to help us make the most of our days. I'm still getting comfortable reading books on my Kindle Fire, but the style and formatting made it an enjoyable experience

20000Days&CountingCover

I resonated most with the section about starting the day off with forward momentum and energy. Making the most of the morning really does have the power to transform the rest of the day. I am more of a "night" person instead of a "morning" person. Smith's encouragement challenged me to reconsider *how* I start my days instead of focusing upon (and coming up short) *how early* I start them. I especially love the idea of asking, "What does God have to say to me today?" to focus in the morning with Scripture.

I also appreciate how Smith opens up into his own life without being too prideful about himself or his successes. He earns your permission and builds his case so that it benefits you, not a personal agenda of his own.

You would do well to read the book. Even better to highlight helpful thoughts & quotes. Best to put into action his advice. But even if you don't read it, be sure to count your days (Psalm 90:12).

By the way, I've lived 10,846 days thus far.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

9Sep/110

To Each Is Given For the Common Good

Tim Cook at Apple: “This is the most focused company I know of, am aware of, or have any knowledge of... We say no to good ideas every day.” Cook then pointed out to analysts that every single product the company makes would fit on the single conference table in front of him. “And we had revenue last year of $40 billion." (courtesy Seth Godin)


One of Apple's primary reputations is simplicity. At first glance, this quote seems to support the notion that "less is more." And maybe it does. But notice his assessment of the company is "focused." Cook (Apple's new CEO & Auburn University Alum) implies that saying "no" to good opportunities frees them up for the best opportunities. It allows them to focus their efforts on what they do best, not everything they can do.

As members of the Lord's church, while we're expected to do as much good possible, we're not expected to do everything possible. Several times in the New Testament Paul develops the connection between the church and the body of Christ. The most developed of these passages is in 1 Corinthians 12:4-31. In the immediate context, he's discussing the church's use of spiritual gifts. But the main principle in the heart of the passage is for everyone to do his/her part. It's a glaring temptation to try to be well-rounded and raise our children to be well-rounded. Doing so to the detriment of our strengths causes the whole body to suffer.

Isolate what you do well. Give it and your life fully to the Lord and His work. And don't feel guilty for not doing something that is someone else's strength.

6Jun/080

How to Be on Time Every Time

Lifehack.org ran this back in the middle of May. It has some good helpful advice. I still struggle with being on time and with estimating how long tasks will take. Have a great weekend.

How to Be On Time Every Time (Lifehack.org)