Getting Things Done with Evernote

December 20, 2012 — 2 Comments

In a previous post, “Getting Things Done with the GTD Method,” I provided a brief overview of GTD and why this is my preferred work/time management method. I promised that I would provide a post that shows how I implemented the GTD method. I have decided to create this implementation guide into a six part series because there is just too much information to cover in one blog post. Here is Part 5 of the series – Evernote.

Getting Things Done Six Part Series:

  1. Getting things done workflow overview – This is an overview of the work flow contained within the GTD system and will serve as a foundation to build upon so you will understand my daily actions and the tools that I utilize.
  2. Getting things done daily processing overview – This is an overview of how I organize my stuff into buckets and how I process those buckets based on the GTD workflow.
  3. Getting things done Software and Tools overview – This is an overview of the software and tools that I use in my GTD system.
  4. Getting things done and Apple Mail – How I setup Apple Mail and process my email within the GTD workflow.
  5. Getting things done and Evernote – How I utilize Evernote in my GTD system.
  6. Getting things done and Things for Mac – How I utilize the Things productivity software in the GTD workflow.

I can’t act on this

In the Getting Things Done system created by David Allen there are only three possible outcomes for an actionable item. Do it, delegate it, or defer it. What if the item isn’t actionable? Well, you also have three possible choices to make:

  • Trash/Delete it
  • Put it on your Someday/Maybe list
  • File it for future reference

The last option, “file it for future reference,” is where Evernote really shines. I use Evernote to store all of my reference materials.

Why Evernote?

I hate nothing more than filing. It is tedious, time-consuming work that is almost pointless. You know you need to save the document for future reference, so you have to create a file for the item, go to your file cabinet, and physically file the item. Not to mention the decisions that must be made on what topic to file the item under.

Weeks or months later, when it comes time to pull the file because you need the information, how much time is wasted trying to find it? If you took the time to file it correctly the first time, you might be able to find it fairly quickly…other times it just seems to have grown legs and walked away. What a waste of time!

By dumping everything into Evernote you can automate the finding part. You can search every note in your Evernote database by using keywords. Evernote even indexes your PDF files so each word, even handwritten notes, can be searched for your keywords. This helps in quickly locating the file you are looking for. This has saved me tons of time.

How to get your stuff into Evernote

Physical paper

  • Scan it.I have gone completely paperless with Evernote. However, not everyone in my organization has gone paperless, so I still must deal with paper. If I get an item that I want to save I simply scan the item into Evernote.There are a number of good scanners available. However, I would recommend one that scans directly into Evernote. This simplifies the process and ensures you will use the system. Evernote recommends a Fujitsu ScanSnap or a Doxie Scanner. Both are admirable choices.
  • Take a picture. Evernote has a mobile app available on just about every smart phone. Within the app is the ability to scan a document by taking a picture of it. The program creates a scannable PDF from the picture of the document. It dumps this PDF into a new note.

Email

  • Forward email to Evernote.When you sign up for a Evernote account you get a unique email account. You can use this email account to forward your email directly into Evernote.
  • Drag and drop.If you only want the attachment that came with email dumped into Evernote, simply drag and drop it. I keep the Evernote program in my dock on the Mac. When I want to dump a file into Evernote, just drag the file to the Evernote icon and it will automatically open a new note with the file attached.
  • Paste it. If you only want a snippet of information from an email, just select the text and copy. Open a new note in Evernote and paste the text into the new note.

Internet

  • Clip it. Evernote has browser extensions available for all the major web browsers. This extension makes it simple to get important information from the internet into Evernote. When you come across a piece of information that you want to save, simply click the Evernote extension in your browser. This will allow you to save the entire page, just the article, or the URL into a new note.

Print it

  • Save PDF to Evernote. On a Mac you can convert just about any file into a searchable PDF for Evernote. Format the document same as you would to print a copy. Select File, then print. Instead of printing to paper, select the PDF drop down options and select print PDF to Evernote.

Conclusion

Evernote makes it simple and efficient to get important reference material into your database of notes. It makes it even easier to find information that is filed away. An important obstacle to implementing the GTD system is developing a system that just works…one that you trust fully.

The ability to handle non-actionable items quickly is paramount to a successful GTD system. Thus, Evernote is a huge cornerstone in my GTD system. It has become a program I rely on daily. If you’re not using Evernote, I strongly suggest you give it a try. Once I did, I never looked back.

How do you use Evernote?

CJ Fritsch

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  • Therese Recent Subscriber

    I’m looking forward to #6 re using “Things”

    Coming soon?

    • http://www.cjfritsch.com CJ Fritsch

      Hey, Therese! Thanks for the comment! “Things” is definitely in the pipeline and I hope to have this posted within the coming few weeks. I am also working on an e-book about “Things” that will provide a more detailed look into the program.