Getting Things Done with Evernote–Notebooks

by Brandon on September 29, 2011


Now that you have Evernote installed and ready to go, I’m going to walk you through setting up the notebooks we will be using to GTD with Evernote. I will be using Evernote for Windows, but the process should be similar if you are on a Mac or the web.

When you first open Evernote, you’ll notice in the upper-left corner that you have 1 notebook already created. Rename this notebook to ‘1. Inbox’. This is your default notebook. It will serve as an in-basket, capturing self-generated input as well as any information you clip from the web, send to your Evernote email address, etc.


ScreenClip [1]

Next, right-click on ‘Notebooks’ and select ‘Create Notebook…’. Name this notebook, ‘2. Next’ (all of the notebooks created will be synchronized notebooks; leave the ‘make this my default notebook’ box unchecked). The ‘2. Next’ notebook will contain all of the Next-Action items, Waiting-For items, and any Read/Review materials (more on this in future posts). Note—the numbers before the notebook names are there to ensure that the notebooks stay in the proper order.

ScreenClip [2]

Create another notebook called, ‘*Projects List’. Once it is created, right-click ‘*Projects List’, select ‘Add to stack’ –> ‘New stack’. Rename the newly created Notebook Stack to ‘3. Projects’. Your notebooks should now look like this:

Create another notebook called ‘Example Project’. Once it is created, right-click ‘Example Project’ and select ‘Add to stack’ -> ‘New stack’. Rename the newly created Notebook Stack to ‘3. Projects’. Your notebooks should now look like this:

I’m going to write an entire post on Projects, but I’ll give you a brief synopsis here. The ‘*Projects List’ notebook acts as an index and contains one note for each project that you have. This note details the project’s name, next-action, purpose, outcome, brainstorming notes, etc. For each project, I create a new notebook (give it the name of your project, i.e. ‘Example Project’) in the ‘3. Projects’ stack. These notebooks will be used to store all of the support materials that you may need as you work on your various projects. Each project folder also contains a note that details the project’s name, next action, purpose, outcome, brainstorming notes, etc. These notebooks are temporary, and they can be deleted once the project is completed.

The next notebook to create is called, ‘4. Support Materials’. Before Evernote introduced notebook stacks, I used to use this notebook to store all of my Project Support Materials. Now I simply use it to store any temporary/transient stuff (such as confirmation numbers) and any supporting information for things that aren’t projects. You may want to turn this notebook into a notebook stack and have separate notebooks within the stack for work, personal, banking, school, family, etc.

The final two notebooks to create are, ‘5. Reference Materials’ and ‘6. Someday/Maybe’.

The ‘5. Reference Materials’ notebook acts like a virtual filing cabinet. I’ll describe how it will be organized in my next post on tags.

The ‘6. Someday/Maybe’ notebook is for Someday/Maybes—things that you may want to reassess in the future.

And we’re done! Stay tuned for more posts on how to Get Things Done with Evernote.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Richman June 25, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Once I’ve completed a task in “2. Next”, where do I move it? In Gmail, I would put a label on it, and then just archive it. Is there something analogous in Evernote?


Brandon June 25, 2013 at 6:02 PM

I just delete the note. If there is something important about the task that you may want to reference later, you can put it in your reference materials notebook.


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