The more your learn to use a tool, the better the results you get. The constant stream of the 'latest application for this' or 'the next better tool for that' unfortunately created an environment where people change the essential components of their workflows far too often. While it might not be entirely comparable, the best craftsmen never change their hammer and the best chefs their knife unless it is broken. Over the years they mastered these tools, know their weight, centre of gravity and balance providing them that "feeling" when they have them in hand.
Craftsmanship In The 21st Century
Today, if you are not using the latest tool you are under the impression of being a laggard, left behind and definitely not up-to-date with the latest buzz. It feels like mastery is no longer a desirable goal in the age of knowledge working. At least that's what it seems on the surface.
Than again the people that are truly successful in some form or shape have developed mastery with and a feeling for their tools. Just because you are not a craftsman in the traditional sense, chef, developer or graphic designer does not mean you should not aim to develop mastery of your tools. As a project manager, sales rep or community administrator you can differentiate yourself by knowing your tools of trade better than the next one. Look at it as the craftsmanship of the 21st century! That is not to say that the traditional craftsmanship has disappeared or is no longer needed, the opposite is true.
Today's applications are the knifes that cut the overwhelming information for you. Your information knife should be sharp, i.e. provide the features you need, but you also need to learn how to use it. You may cut yourself in the beginning or you may initially think that it is too heavy or too light. But if you give it some time you might find that you have actually found the tool that is made for you. Changing your information knife every week will not make you a better knowledge worker – learning to master the current one will.
One of my information knifes that I heavily rely on is Evernote. It is my primary storage for reference material and I reflected extensively about what Evernote excels at and at what not, at least IMHO.
For me lots gets stored in Evernote and lots gets retrieved. While I have liberated my "capture" process from Evernote, everything else the application offers is used. Even most things I capture outside of Evernote, be it with pen & paper, structured with OmniOutliner or casual with a brief entry in Drafts end in Evernote once they are no longer actionable (if it ever was), but can serve for current or future reference. I even use Scanner Pro to get my handwritten stuff into Evernote.
There were times at which I have been critical of Evernote, but for years it is now my weapon of choice to store copious amounts of information which I (might) need again at some stage.
Consequently I have tried hard to master the application and resisted many urges to switch to a different application, system or philosophy. Evernote has been good to me and in return to my loyalty continued to develop the service and it's features. The last release that overhauled the entire iOS user interface and took Evernote into the iOS 7 era is just one example.
Mastering an application like Evernote involves a lot. You not only need to make keyboard shortcuts muscle memory, you also need to decide for certain conventions and methodologies (e.g. single or plural when defining tags).
I have come a long way with Evernote and owe most of it to my mate Brett Kelly and his wonderful and useful book 'Evernote Essentials' (affiliate link). It recently received a major 'free' update to version four covering all the latest functionality and catching up with the evolution that Evernote went through since the last version of the book. While it still amazes me that we have arrived in a time where books can be 'updated', it amazes me even more how much effort Brett puts into each of his releases and how much additional value it delivers every time, even for a reader like myself who is already onboard since version 1.
Evernote Essentials is also available in the iBooks Store as of version 4, but until Mavericks and iBooks on the Mac arrives (and maybe even beyond that) I love the PDF version.
If you want to master Evernote you really want to get Brett Kelly's Evernote Essentials (affiliate link) book. I cannot recommend it enough.