How to set up your own basic GTD system inside of Evernote


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How to set up your own basic GTD system inside of Evernote

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How to set up your own basic GTD system inside of Evernote

  1. 1. 1 How to set up your own basic GTD system inside of Evernote* *(you don’t HAVE to use Evernote, you could use another tool as a GTD container but I like Evernote)1. On your Mac and/or PC(s), go to to set up an account, download and install the software a. Optional: Install the Evernote App on your smart phone or mobile device b. Optional: Use the Web browser client for your Desktop computer rather than the software download c. The FREE version gets you everything you need; After you get into this you may decide you want the Evernote ‘premium’ features -- subscription for $5/month or $45/year2. OK now that Evernote is installed, let’s start setting up some GTD notebooks: a. Under File > choose “New Notebook” (not new Note just yet—we want to first create Notebook as containers to put your notes in). You can choose whether it’s a “local” notebook (resides on that computer ONLY and does not synch with other computers or devices) or a “synched” notebook which will, when connected ot the Internet, keep your notes current across all devices (extremely handy!) b. Name your first notebook: !nbox i. (I recommend the exclamation point for the name !nbox so that this stays sorted at the TOP of your list of notebooks) c. Next create the following Notebooks i. @Work-Next Actions ii. @Work!Waiting For… iii. @Work-Agendas iv. @Work-Reference v. @Work-Someday/Maybe d. Now I recommend “Grouping” (“stacking”) the @Work notebooks together so you can expand/contract (much like Group layers in ArcMap). Do this by RIGHT-clicking on one of the @Work notebooks you just created, and then choose “Add To Stack” > New Stack > . Name the new stack simply “@Work”. This will make your notes easier to use when at work, or at home, etc. e. Then RIGHT-click on the rest of your @Work notebooks (@Work-Reference, etc) and simply “Add To Stack” to put them into the “@Work” stack. f. Optional: Currently, I also like to put my @Work-Prj-____ (Projects) into notebooks. The steps or tasks I come up with for each project is ‘brainstormed’ or identified in other ways, and then I put them into the Prj notebooks (perhaps first the !nbox if I think of something on the fly)…As it comes time to move a project forward, I simply move the note(s) by dragging & Dropping into the @Work-NextActions notebook. These things are done during my Weekly Review. I like the Prj (projects) listed out this way because it gives me this “overview” of the different projects currently going on at work…Not all items are necessarily “Next Actions” right there and then. You may not want to make your “Projects” as separate Notebooks; You may want to track those just as a list in a single Note… It’s up to you.
  2. 2. 2 Here’s my screen shot, with the @Work stack ungrouped and the@Work-Next Actions notebook active (the notes within this notebook are then listed on the right)Again, YOUR GTD system does not need to be like mine..I’ve developed this over 3-4 years…but I started out withsomething much simpler.
  3. 3. 3The other key “GTD” notebooks that you’ll need besides the “!nbox” and those listed above could include: @Home stack o @Home-Next Actions o @Home-Reference  Things like owner manuals, warranties, project plans, etc o @Home Someday/Maybe  Things I might want to do someday, but not now or anytime soon o NOTE: I do NOT put mundane, super obvious things like “Do Laundry” or “Wash Dishes” in my GTD system – there’s no point. Those things will be obvious. Instead, I reserve the bigger projects for the GTD system – things like “Build Fence” or “Purchase Computer”. *Read/Review stack o I like to keep notebooks in here that contain things I want to read or review at a later date. For example, I dump articles in here (perhaps from online), forward in emails that I didn’t have time to read at the time I got it (but want to); links to blogs I like, various reference information that I would like to review someday. o In addition, this is where I put the GTD “Horizons” (read the book)—These are things that trigger things that I need to take care of (when I’m brainstorming). For example, my 20,000 foot view (Areas of Responsibility) has about 7 or 8 items; the 30k view has my 1 to 2 year goals; my 40k view (three to 5 year vision) etc. I don’t look at these often, but once in a while it’s good to review these (read the GTD book and you’ll see why) o Other misc reference--- This is EXTREMELY handy for docking things you’re interested in, but may not be “high priority”—hobbies, etc @iPhone: o People I need to call ASAP (useful esp if I put the phone number right there—on the road or have 5 min I can knock off some quick calls) Finished! notebook o Here’s my “note graveyard”. When I’m “done” with something (like a note containing an action item, an email, anything that just MIGHT be useful for future reference…but probably not..) I don’t delete the note, I dump them into “Finished!”. o Why? Well, a couple reasons –  1) I can. Evernote has no limitations on how many notes I keep, and makes searching them so easy…this “finished’ notebook is tucked away at the bottom of my notebook lists so it doesn’t really clutter anything up  2) I do staff reports. I like to query evernote with things like, “Show me all notes I did in the last 30 days at work”. It’s super easy to pull stuff back out to put my staff report together.  3) It’s not real LIKELY to be useful as future reference, but often these things are. This “Finished” notebook (where I currently have over 6000 notes) has saved me a lot – I’ve been able to pull out contact info, emails, jog my memory on something I did for so-and-so 3 months ago, or 2 years ago, etc.
  4. 4. 4 OTHER HANDY EVERNOTE functions you’ll want to set up:Note View optionsThe View > menu has various ways to view your notes..I like the “Snippet” view personally, but you can experiment withothers.Screen Clipping:Working on a project where you want to keep a log of the steps? Perhaps you’ll have to repeat this again next year, andyou don’t want to forget the steps or the output, etc.An easy way to do this is to use the Evernote “Screen Capture”Go to Tools > Clipping Preferences > I set the “default” notebook to my !nbox (GTD principle)Go to Tools > Options > and click the “Hot Keys” tab. I set my “PrintScreen” key to be my “hot key” that brings up myscreen clipper to grab screen shots to dump into my !nbox.Merge Notes:After you’re done grabbing your screen clips, they’ll likely be several notes in your !nbox. When you go to process these,select them all in the list and choose “Merge”. That will take multiple notes and append them together into 1 noteEmail stuff into Evernote: Your account comes with an email address to make it easy to simply forward stuff fromyour other email account(s). It’s super easy to forward emails into Evernote. However, I strongly suggest you do NOTsimply forward EVERYTHING into Evernote and your GTD system; Rather, process your email inbox like you would in theGTD system – Filter out the junk before it hits Evernote/GTD..trash all the crap most people get in email. Instead, lookfor just the important things—action items, or items potentially useful as reference, and forward THOSE things into yourEvernote inbox.Tags:Tags give you awesome ways to pull notes out of your system. You can set up a list of “tags” (or easily create new oneson the fly). My tags include: Energy Level: When I’m planning out a project and note some steps that I know I can knock off even when brain dead at 4:25 PM on a Friday, I’ll sometimes “Tag” those as “Energy: Low”. Anytime I’m not feeling like doing much, I can just find all notes with that Tag and go ahead and get those things done. Departments. I do work for various departments – some notes are “action items”; others are “reference”, others may be “Finished” but if the notes all relate to the same Department, I can pull them back out if I “tagged’ the notes with the department name. Key Projects: Some key projects have notes that get stored in the various notebooks (reference, next actions, projects, finished, read/review, etc). I may “tag” them with the project name just to keep a common thread between all of the notes that relate to that project. Not usually necessary to pull out ALL project notes, but for some projects it is handy.
  5. 5. 5MOBILE APPSEvernote can be set to synchronize your notes between your PC and your mobile devices. If you have a smart phone,get the Evernote app (free).I’ve found my smart phone to be an AWESOME tool for the “collection” phase of GTD – Take snapshots with your phone’s camera (Evernote has a snapshot button) The photos can be set to go right into your !nbox Evernote will automatically index the image so you can search for text within the image (like OCR) I’ll take snapshots of paper documents (the iPhone has a good camera for this) and that’s how I quickly “scan” many documents into EvernoteA few words on using PAPER notesI almost always take notes on paper in meetings and even just jot down little ideas or thoughts I have on paper. It’s justquick and easy and doesn’t interrupt the thought process if you do it on paper (as opposed to fumbling with a computeror device).Then, I simply take a snapshot with my phone, or scan my paper notes into EvernoteIf you don’t feel like imaging your paper notes; DON’T DO IT!Instead, before you file your paper notes into your folders (or the trash!), simply scan for any important items—particularly “action items” (per the GTD method) and just note those things into your Evernote account – type them in.Usually it’s not too much typing to jot a few action items down, so they’re in your trusted system so you are reminded atthe right time and place.~~~ GOOD LUCK~~~ (read the GTD book by David Allen for more if you’re interested). Note: I have noaffiliation with GTD or Evernote…I just LIKE the process and the product!! Let me know if you have questionsHope you got something from this– ~~Jeff DuMez – May 2012.