In the last post we created notebooks; now it’s time to look at tags. There are two main categories of tags: tags for Reference Materials or Someday/Maybes and tags for Next/Action items.
Before taking an in-depth look at each of these categories, let’s talk a bit about creating and organizing tags.
There are several ways to create a new tag. In Evernote for Windows, you can simply right-click on ‘Tags’ in the left panel and select ‘Create Tag…’ or, when creating a new note, you can enter the name of the tag where it says, ‘Click to add tag…’.
Tags can be nested inside other tags, and you can create as many layers of nested tags as you want. If you create too many, however, you may end up in limbo. To nest tags, drag and drop one tag onto another.
Nesting allows you to organize your tags so they are easier to find, though it does not provide any functionality—it’s merely cosmetic.
Reference Materials & Someday/Maybe Tags:
The Reference Materials notebook is like a virtual filing cabinet to store anything you find interesting or useful. I like to organize it using two types of tags:
Primary/Category Tags (#) – These tags represent the ‘folders’ in the filing cabinet and are denoted by the # symbol. Examples: #Books, #Career, #Finance, #Food/Drink, #Health, #Movies, #Music, #Tech, #Travel. Tag names are arbitrary—feel free to use whatever symbol and names you desire.
Subset/Subcategory Tags – Many of your primary categories will have at least one subset of topics. These tags are not denoted by any special symbol. Again, tag names are arbitrary. Here are some of the tags I have nested inside #Tech:
Someday/Maybe items—things you may want to reassess in the future—are tagged in a similar manner. For example, if I find a book I would like to read, I’ll clip it into Evernote, tag it (#Books; To Read), and move it to the Someday/Maybe notebook.
Other tags that apply to Someday/Maybe items include the following:
- Future Projects
- Gift Ideas
- Wish List
These tags are nested under #Misc.
Next/Action Item Tags:
The Next notebook contains all of the Next-Action items, Waiting-For items, and any Read/Review materials, and the tags used for these items represent the second major category of tags used in this system.
A new note is created for each Next Action (single next actions, not next actions associated with Projects—I’ll discuss Projects in a future post), and this note is tagged @Action. Since most Next Actions require a specific location or tool, this note is also tagged with a context tag. Here a some examples of context tags that I use: @Agenda, @Anywhere, @Calls, @Computer, @Email, @Errands, @Grocery, @Home, @Shopping, @Work. I nest the context tags under the @Action tag:
Let’s look at an example. Perhaps my printer is running low on black ink. I would create a new note, give it the proper tags (@Action; @Errands), and move it to the Next notebook, as seen here:
Similarly, each Waiting-For item—things you’re waiting to get back from or get done by others—has its own note, which is tagged @Waiting For. Use context tags here as well if appropriate.
To-read items that have been clipped or scanned into Evernote are also placed in the Next notebook. I label these FYI-To-Read.
That covers everything you need to know about tags. In the next post, we’ll look at how to create lists to manage all your actionable things.