How to use Evernote as your primary GTD system and reference filing system?

File folders

Some people think of Evernote as your external brain and in a sense this is true. Over the course of the last 4 years I have learned to use Evernote in more ways. It is far more than my external brain.

Getting Things Done setup

I have written on this blog about setting up Evernote for GTD. I still use it the same way as I did four years ago. In the GTD and Evernote users group I am still advocating using notebooks over tags for the different list in GTD. Also contexts have separate notebooks in my setup.

Others like Ruud Hein and The Secret Weapon are using a tag based system. My initial reason not going for this approach was the buggy implementation of tags in earlier versions of Evernote. And allthough those times are behind us I still kept away from tags for my GTD setup. The new reason for this is that I use tags as a way of implementing a rock solid A-Z reference file system in Evernote.

Filing is a problem

In my home office I do have a reference file system that is setup as David Allen describes in his book Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-Free Productivuty. For those of you that have the book at hand: check page 96 evv. Ever since I started using GTD I have experienced the many great benefits of having a filing system that just works. I have one simple A-Z indexed set of folders. I can add new folders in under one minute and adding papers to existing folders is even quicker. I have a labeler within arm reach and plenty of fresh folders. Administrative tasks are done in a fraction of the time because everything is in place and easy accessible. I cannot imagine that I have lived without this simple setup. Filing is a problem for a lot of people.

In my own experience and in coaching people I have found that handling the digital realm is even a bigger struggle for a lot of people. Digital information tends to spread around hard drives, email programs and cloud services. And even though computers have strong searching capabilities the stress factor of not knowing where everything is bothers people. It did bother me.

Evernote as your digital archiving system

And in comes Evernote. I use the tag system in Evernote as my A-Z reference file archive. I can easily add physical paper to Evernote with my ScanSnap scanner, add all kinds of documents, emails, tweets, basically all digital info that enters my life. And is worth keeping. I use a tag as a hard copy file folder. And I already have many, many tags.

How to setup Evernote as your GTD system? Start here: Evernote and GTD Part 1

How can I help you using Evernote even better for GTD? Post your comments below….

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://alphaefficiency.com/comments Bojan – Alpha Efficiency

    This setup is outdated kinda, as the new Evernote for Mac is breaking it badly for The Secret weapon. It’s still the best filing system out there.

  • Fokke

    Hi Bojan,

    What part exactly is outdated? This setup is still working very well for me. Both for GTD and as Reference file system.

    Best,
    Fokke

  • Christina

    Thank you for these informative posts. I would love to know more about how you use tags to create a “rock solid A-Z reference system in EverNote.” Could you share more about that, please?

  • Fokke

    Hi Christina, basically I use tagging just like I label my physical file folders. Because I use the same A-Z approach I use for them filing in Evernote is very easy. — Fokke