In GTD, a project is defined as “any outcome you’re committed to achieving that will take more than one action step to complete”. I’ve created an Evernote note template that I use to plan each and every project that I take on. The template is based on the “Five Phases of Project Planning” (see Getting Things Done Chapter 3), and it looks like this:
You can download a copy of this template using the link at the bottom of this post. Use the information from the previous two posts to easily import the template back into Evernote.
Before continuing, I suggest you re-read Chapter 3 of Getting Things Done—”Getting Projects Creatively Under Way: The Five Phases of Project Planning”. David Allen describes how to tackle projects much better than I can.
Now that you’re familiar with the process, I’ll use a simple example to illustrate my GTD project workflow. Let’s say I need to plan a dinner to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday. The first thing I do is open up Evernote and press the Windows key + t to import my GTD Project Note Template into my Inbox. I open the note and fill in the project name: “Birthday Celebration Dinner”. Next, I fill in the Purpose/Principles: “To socialize and celebrate with friends”. Then I fill in the Outcome: “Sitting in the restaurant with my girlfriend and our closest friends eating some great food”. Once that’s out of the way, I take a minute or two and write down everything I can possibly think of about the project in the Brainstorming section. When my mind is clear, I decide on the Next Action and fill in that section of the template. The Next Action will most likely have a context associated with it. If it does, I’ll tag the note with the appropriate context tag (i.e. @Calls, @Computer, @Waiting For). Unlike single next actions that are stored in the ‘Next’ notebook, next actions for Projects do not need the @Action tag.
Once the template is filled in,
I move it into the *Projects List notebook tag it ‘*Project’. Create a new notebook in the ‘3. Projects’ notebook stack and give it the name of the project. Move the project template note here.
I can use this new notebook to store any information I collect along the way (project support materials). For example, I could use it to store restaurant reviews, directions, a guest list, gift ideas, phone numbers, etc.
I can access all of my projects and get a quick overview of all the next actions using the *Projects List saved search:
The project template note will also show up in the context tag saved search that it is associated with.
During the course of the project, I continually update the next action and its context. I also add new information to the brainstorming section whenever a new idea pops into my head.
Once the outcome has been achieved, I go through the project notebook that was created and archive/delete the notes as I see fit. Once all the notes are processed, I delete the notebook along with the project template note.
That wraps up the basics of my Getting Things Done with Evernote system. The process is a little hard to explain on paper, but, with a little practice, it is quite easy to implement. In time, you should be able to build a GTD system you can trust where all the information is easily accessible from your computer or your mobile device. When that happens, you can free your mind to focus on the things you truly value.
Click the link below to download a few sample files that may help you get started (updated 10/22/2012):