How can I use Evernote to GTD, or should I use a separate task manager for that?

What would you suggest?


4 Answers 4


If Evernote isn't easily GTD-able, don't try and force it. You'll spend more time adapting your system rather than actually using it. The important thing is to find something that works for you. Many people tweak GTD to fit their own needs, and only you can determine if a system will fit for you.

Things like having the same tagging system represent tags, contexts, and status (as it seems from the little I've looked at Evernote) is not something I would consider easily usable for GTD.


The easiest way would be to create tags for your contexts (e.g. @Home, @Work, etc.). This, in turn, requires that each individual action is a separate note. That's the basic principle that all systems will share. As far as how you organize your system, many people recommend different ways of doing this:

  • Darren Crawford: Recommends 3 notebooks: Inbox, Next Actions, Reference. [.Projects] tag is used for the project list.
  • bluecockatoo: Recommends the tag [next action], and one for each project, including sub tags for larger projects.
  • ruudhein: Relies heavily on saved searches.

I'll update this list further, as I'm very interested in the topic as well.

One way to make the system have each note represent a project rather than an action is to have the context tag only refer to the project's next action. So if you had a project "clean the garage" with an action "call bob", you would create a note for "clean the garage". Then in the body of the note, write "call bob" as the next action, and tag it as [@Calls]. This means that you will need to retag a note every time you complete an action.


I found another topic on the subject here http://www.40tech.com/2009/08/25/getting-things-done-gtd-in-evernote-with-only-one-notebook/

At first, when adapting Evernote into my GTD system, I used multiple notebooks. My default notebook was used for my Inbox, and I created several others others for specific GTD folders and separate projects, each with their own category and sub-category tags. It was effective but a bit unwieldy when I needed to find something in a hurry, and I found it difficult to keep my tags in line. I started thinking more about tagging. Then I thought a bit more. Ever so slowly, my overstuffed filing cabinet of a brain realized that multiple notebooks were unnecessary for what I needed Evernote to do! All I needed was one notebook and a highly organized nested-tag structure.


I use a separate task manager, and I recommend you do the same.

I use Evernote as a reference filing system, which is also where I store my project plans. I use Asana to track all my next actions, the Waiting For's, the Someday Maybe's, Tickler files list of Projectsand Calendared entries. Thus, using Evernote and Asana, you can setup the entire outer ring of workflow management with clean edges

The highlighted phrases are David Allen terminology. If you have the book on kindle, you could just look them up in search. The goal of an electronic system for GTD is to have placeholders from the 8 items at the periphery of this diagram. Also, you need an in bucket. The first paragraph describes how I distribute these 8 items across Asana and Evernote enter image description here

Here are further details about how I set things up inside Asana

  • For Next actions list in GTD, I use the upcoming section of My Tasks on Asana. I also compartmentalize these items into sections denoting various contexts. Eg. At computer, Phone calls, Errands, etc.
  • For the in bucket, I use the New Items portion of My Tasks on Asana
  • For the SomeDay/Maybes in GTD, I use the Later section of My Tasks on Asana
  • To tickle items, I simply create a new task, assign it to me, add it to calendar for the desired date, and mark it as Later. This way, the item disappears until on the due date, when it shows up on your day's tasks. You also get an inbox notification.
  • Projects list is easy. Asana allows you to create projects easily. Just look at the left hand side of the web interface.
  • Calendared items - Again, simply press TAB + D and you will be able to add the task to the Calendar.
  • I monitor waiting for under a dedicated tag (Yes, you can use tags in asana. It's great.). Similarly, I have tags for specific items - Agenda for Joe, etc

Asana has a phenomenal interface that allows you to do things quickly. They have great keyboard shortcuts. Also, this allows you to have two different apps on your phone. This way, you don't end up with one giant bloated app that is messy and complicated to use.

In a nutshell, I use Evernote for storing knowledge, and asana for storing Action items, or ToDos.

P.S. Further tips -

Use Asana's Chrome extension. Assign it a keyboard shortcut. With this, you will be able to capture items very fast. This is extremely important. If it isn't quick and easy to capture items, you will simply will not do it when under pressure.

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