How to use TextExpander to conveniently timestamp every thought in Evernote

tl;dr: Set up a time stamping snippet in your automatic text expansion software (e.g. TextExpander).

I use Evernote as an electronic lab notebook, and I have extolled its virtues as an ELN in a previous post. While it is important to organize my thoughts by theme, for example, by logical steps in a procedure, it’s also important to timestamp them to help us get a sense for how our thoughts are progressing. Sometimes we will end up non-linearly editing a note. For example, I might have a computational experiment where I record my thoughts as I go along for the first few steps, but I decide later that the earlier steps need revising. If I were to just go back and edit the earlier steps, I have no historical record of what I had done earlier, which makes it tough to disentangle my original thoughts and the changes later made.

To get around this, I have opted to timestamp every thing I type into a note. However, it gets troublesome when I have to type 05 February 2015 11:28:AM every single time. How do I get around this, then? Thankfully, TextExpander (or any other automatic text snippet expansion software) can help.

I set up a shortcut, in my case “;dtime”, which TextExpander then expands to
%d %B %Y %1I:%M:%p.

And so anytime I want to type in the current time and date, all I do is type “;dtime”. Try it!

05 February 2015 11:31:AM

05 February 2015 11:31:AM

05 February 2015 11:31:AM

The convenience is addicting at first, and after a while, it becomes second nature – I’ve tried to do text expansion on computers without TextExpander, and found it to be quite frustrating (an understatement).