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How to Get More Done with Less Stress Using Evernote

Evernote is one of my favorite cross-platform note-taking apps, but it is so much more than that. Truly, Evernote is the key to not only keeping my life organized but helping me get more done with less stress.

Let me show you how you can get more done using Evernote too. Read on.

#Evernote is the key to keeping my life #organized but helping me get more done with less #stress. #productivity Click To Tweet

The Evernote Learning Curve

I have to confess right off the bat. At first, I didn’t fully grasp the possibilities and functionality of Evernote, though I’ve used it since around 2008 when I had a Blackberry.

Initially, I used Evernote as if it were a glorified private Pinterest app. I saved and sorted distinct notes on different topics.

Before long, my Evernote app looked like the top of my desk — random notebooks and notes everywhere with no sort of order.

All of this changed the day I attended a Webinar on using Evernote. Oh, mama. Where has this been all my life?

My life changed the day I attended a Webinar on using Evernote. #productivity #evernote #organized Click To Tweet

Setting Up Evernote According to Priorities, not Topics

How to get more done with less stress with Evernote

My set up at the time was notebooks based on topics. The idea behind the webinar was a notebook of priorities. This would prevent things from getting lost in the massive void that was random Evernote notebooks and notebook stacks.

Exactly what you title the notebooks is irrelevant. The most important thing is how you use them. If you want to get more done with Evernote, set them up according to priority so the less important doesn’t distract you.

The new set up of priorities meant that my notebooks were now:

  • Incoming
  • Now
  • Next
  • Later
  • Someday

Actually, Someday was set up as a Notebook Stack, as it contains notes and notebooks full of possibilities and random ideas that I don’t have time to enact at the moment. Someday I may decide that this business, blog or project idea should get done, but for I’ll remove the thought from my brain, and put it into the Someday stack.

I periodically go through the Someday pile after I have caught up on urgent matters, but mostly I just use it as a holding folder until I can deal with it.

So let’s talk about how the other Evernote notebooks work for me.

The Incoming Notebook to sort what I want to get done

Later I set Evernote up based on priorities. This prevented things from getting lost in the massive void that was random Evernote notebooks and notebook stacks.

Like most Evernote power users, I have the Evernote web clipper installed on my web browser, which allows me to store bookmarks in different formats in my Evernote app. This is how I had been primarily using Evernote for many years until I started prioritizing my notes.

Now, when I use the Evernote web clipper, everything goes into “incoming”.

This way, I don’t get lost prioritizing what I’ve found or sidetracked in some other way. Each day I take the time to go through everything in my incoming folder and prioritizing it for the next day. The same is true for emails I have set up go to Evernote. I have this set up through IFTTT, which is super handy. All of my starred Gmail emails go to Evernote.

Essentially, “Incoming” is the landing pad for all notes in my Evernote. From there, I assign them a priority or a project.

Incoming is the landing pad for all notes in my #Evernote. Next they are assigned a priority or a project. #productivity Click To Tweet

The Now and Next Notebooks to get more done

The notebooks I have labeled “Now” and “Next” are fairly self-explanatory. Anything I am getting done right now is in the “Now” notebook. I put anything I want to get done Today in the “Now” notebook.  The “Next” notebook is full of those things that I need to do soon after anything in “now”.

The challenge for me is keeping “Now” and “Next” realistically small enough to manage.

I felt like I can get all the things done. Newsflash: I can’t.

An Evernote Case Study

How do the Now and Next Notebooks in my Evernote work in practical terms?

Let me give you an example.

I was updating one of my website’s pages when I realized I didn’t have a clear and concise post about how I use Evernote for project management (that is, the post you’re reading right now). So I created a note in my “Next” notebook that said, “Write about Project Management with Evernote”. Then I scribbled down (figuratively) the major points that I wanted to include. Once I finished, I hopped back on rewriting my page. Once I finished with the page rewrite, I moved this note into the NOW notebook and started working.

The Benefit of the Now and Next Evernote Notebooks

For me, the tremendous benefit of using this priority system is that this keeps me on track, focusing on one issue at a time.

As soon as I “download” the idea into a note, and prioritize it, I can then continue focusing my mental energy on what I was working on when the thought came to me.

My kids’ art teacher used to always say,

“An Eagle that chases two rabbits starves.”

Well, for many years (perhaps the nature of being a mom of many with a stack of responsibilities), I was an eagle chasing about a dozen squirrels running in all different directions, and catching none of them. This system, which is a changed version of my Bullet Journal, helps me to stay on task and complete what I started. It’s huge.

As I moved from having notebooks based on topics to notebooks based on priorities, I did some major digital spring cleaning in my system. I went through each notebook stack, notebook, and note, either assigning it a priority or deleting it. Once I finished, my Evernote no longer looked like a cluttered up virtual mess of notebooks and stacks, which is ironically what it was physically replacing for me.

As a kid, I would drive my mom nuts by my desk in my bedroom, which contained stacks of cheap notebooks, each containing project ideas that I hoped to accomplish but never did. Arranging them by priorities makes my brain and body work on just one thing at a time, thus getting things done.

The Later Notebook

Later is more for things that I will deal with soon, but not urgently. Someday is for project ideas that seem cool, but I’m in no position at the moment to spend brain space on them.

Moodboarding Projects with Evernote

Later I set Evernote up based on priorities. This prevented things from getting lost in the massive void that was random Evernote notebooks and notebook stacks.

I also still use Evernote for mood boarding my projects too.

For example, when I am doing work for a client, I usually create a notebook for them full of ideas they had and bookmarks and simplified articles based on their project that I need to refer to.

However, the principle remains the same. The to-dos do not stay in the project notebook, but in the priority notebooks so I know what I’m working on and when.

From there, I link to the relevant notes from the to-do list, so that this information is always at my fingertips. You can learn more about linking notes in Evernote here.

New to Evernote?

If you’ve not tried Evernote, I’m a happy power user of this app. I have written an ebook on using Evernote to increase your productivity, which you can learn more about here.

You can find out more about Evernote’s free and premium versions over here on their website.