How I ‘Get Things Done’

Might be a little early for this, seeing as how I don’t have a steady schedule with uploading posts, but here it goes anyway. I wanted to share my system for staying organized. Heavily influenced by this book by David Allen Green:


Great thing about this program is that you can fall off the wagon and jump right back into the saddle fairly easily. The big takeaway I had from his book was to pull everything around you that does not have a ‘place’, including your thoughts/ideas,  and lay it on the table. From there we can see everything together and then start one by one ‘processing’ each item. You can read much more about this process by reading the book, I would butcher it if I tried to explain, but what I wanted to do here was to simply describe how I use this process with Evernote.

I am not the first to do this, and got some inspiration from other posts but I wanted to share my own in case it could help someone on their way. Here is a clip of my Evernote notebooks and tags section:

Tags Image

My tags section in Evernote.

I use only 4 notebooks in Evernote:

1. Collection
2. GTD
3. Reference
4. Someday Maybe

Collection: My default notebook to store incoming notes to be sorted later. My virtual ‘table’ to layout my junk.

GTD: Notes that will be used currently, such as project materials, next actions, and things to read/review.

Reference: Notes that you want to reference at some later point.

Someday Maybe: Just not right now, notes that sit on the shelf for a later time. Current notes in this notebook are ‘booklist’, ‘future project list’, and ‘tv show/movies to watch’.

The real gem of this system is the tags, which help to process those notes into ways you can easily find them later. It may be confusing at first without reading the book, but once you read it you will see that my Evernote setup is a digital version of the folder system described by David Allen Green.

When a new note gets made it starts in collection. Then when I do my weekly reviews, or daily schedule making unloading, I ‘process’ those notes. And I label it with a tag. So it will leave collections and be moved to the appropriate notebook.  To better illustrate my system, I will provide some examples:

– I write a note to make sure and upload my latest project to github. When I see the note in collections, I know that the note is simply a to-do, and add the tag ‘next action’. Next I change the note’s notebook to ‘GTD’. Now my note is in my ‘next action’ list, so I have it tracked to be tackled later.

– I wake up in a cold sweat because of a nightmare, so I log my dream into my phones note section. Later in the day I transfer that note to Evernote. When I check my collections notebook and see the note, I tag it with ‘Dreams’ and change the notebook to ‘Reference’. Now when I click on my ‘dreams’ tag the new note is there along with all my other dream notes.

– I just listened to a podcast and a book recommendation was mentioned, but I am too busy. I dictate a note to my phone, which later gets sent to Evernote. Upon entering Evernote it starts in my notebook ‘Collection’. At a later time I go through to process this note which says ’48 laws of power- robert greene’. I copy that text, go to my notebook ‘someday maybe’ and paste that text at the end of my ‘booklist’ note.

I admit that you have to read the book to get the full context of my system, but for those that have I believe this will help them to implement the GTD process in the digital world. I still write notes on paper, and I still have a file folder system at home, but it is more efficient to have your data with you on the go from anywhere. I am still breaking it in at the moment, and will provide an update at a later time.

©Larry Buffaloboy