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You Must Remember This

Evernote will help you organize your life, at last. Now if only you can remember what it's called...

Author Tom Samiljan Illustration Gracia Lam

PITY THE DISORGANIZED. Not only must they (fine, we) go through life—school, work, grocery shopping—in unrelenting befuddlement, they’re constantly being tempted by new gadgets that promise to deliver them from chaos. First came the Trapper Keeper, with its endless array of folders (so you can lose every scrap of homework at once?), then PDAs, with their damnably easy-to-misplace styli.

The latest product promising relief to the organizationally disadvantaged is a free piece of software called Evernote. While it’s still too early to tell if Evernote is going to put Post-It notes out of business, the early numbers look very promising—1.2 million users signed up for the service in its first year, a bigger debut than either Twitter or YouTube.

Evernote’s main function is allowing users to take notes in any form—by snapping pictures, recording audio, capturing web pages or typing words.

And unlike a fancy Moleskine notebook, you can’t lose it no matter how hard you try. Thanks to what’s known as cloud computing, every file sent to Evernote is uploaded to a “cloud,” essentially a server farm somewhere. From there, files are accessible on just about anything connected to the web—your home or office computer, your laptop, your cell (and eventually maybe your brainstem!). Say you’re browsing for recipes at work and find a good risotto. Clip it into Evernote and view it on your phone while you shop for ingredients. Back at home, pull it up on your laptop and start stirring.

But what really distinguishes Evernote is its uncanny ability to “read” text contained in images, which allows you to, say, take a shot of a business card and send it to Evernote, which will index the information and render it searchable.

The program’s early adopters are fanatical in their praise. But they’re the hard-core efficiency fetishists, the type who’ll cheerfully snap a photo of their car on their way into the Apple store, so Evernote’s geo-tagging feature can help them find it later on.

But what about the rest of us?

Those whose idea of organization is a 2005 day planner with the first three weeks of January filled out, or those who’ll eagerly sign up for the service and promptly forget the password?

Time to admit the obvious: We’re doomed.

New York writer TOM SAMILJAN actually thrives on chaos.

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