I’ve been using Evernote for a few years now, and as I am writing this article I have 3722 notes in my account and about 600+ in trash. I know there are more heavy users than me out there, but even in my case as the notes count grew, I found finding the stuff I needed started to become a problem.
If you think about it, Evernote as useful as the information you take out of there and not what you put in.
In this article you will find 5 ways to organize Evernote. Over time I got the chance to experiment with all of the 5.
1. Just don’t – one notebook, no tags
Let’s face it, most of us start this way, we put all of our notes into the default notebook that bears our name (in my case: Radu’s notebook).
The good part about this approach is that you don’t need to worry about which notebook to place your notes into and how to tag them. Putting stuff in is very simple.
On the other hand, getting stuff out is not as simple because in this way you create a “black hole” in which information tends to vanish into oblivion. 🙂
I’ve been here, my first approach was to experiment with notebooks.
2. Around notebooks
My next steps was to create a bunch of notebooks, you can see a sample bellow.
The image above is just a sample, people use notebooks to organize information around:
- Areas of responsibility
- Clients, etc.
This surely helps and it’s better than having a single notebook. However there is just a thing, notebooks can be nested on only one level into stacks. No further nesting is possible and this can pose problems.
Moreover, because you can have only 250 notebooks, at least at the present time, this organization style is a bit limited.
3. Around tags
I believe because of this limitations people turn to tags instead of notebooks.
Simply put, create only a notebook or two, and use tags to classify your notes according to:
- Area of responsibility
- People involved
- Status, etc.
Because a note can have several tags, this method can help you really find everything fast, with only one condition, that you take the time to add the proper tags.
You can nest tags on many levels, unlike notebooks, this is also a plus.
Lately I’ve seen lots of people having this approach. I am not so sure about that, it feels like bypassing notebooks altogether.
4. Around notebooks and tags
If you want to use both notebooks and tags, maybe this is the way you should go:
- Notebooks for areas of responsibility
- Tags for projects and whatever you may think of
This structure is close to the previous one. It also offers a more clear separation between areas of responsibility as the notes are in different notebooks.
5. Around tasks – Evernote GTD
The first 4 ways were all about areas or responsibility and projects. The last I am going to cover is about tasks.
Getting things done by David Allen was a very popular book on, well, getting things done. It is also called GTD.
GTD became a methodology for structuring activities according to projects, time, place and people.
Because GTD is not a tool but a methodology, this means that you still needed a piece of software to implement it and guess what, Evernote is a n obvious option.
You can see in the image in the left how GTD in Evernote looks like.
Open tasks go into the “Action Pending” notebook, and as we complete them, they get moved into “Completed”.
GTD takes effort and discipline, to proper tag the notes and to move them. Some complain of being a little bit to bureaucratic and time-consuming. I don’t think it’s for everyone, for me it’s not, however there are people who like working this way.
Bonus: the most important notebook
This is so simple, and so useful. I am talking about the Inbox notebook.
Create a notebook name is inbox and set it as the default notebook. All the new notes will go into this notebook and after you are done with a note, you can move it into your archive, no matter how that looks like.
Yes, it’s like email.
This notebooks helps you differentiate the notes you are still working on / have not archived yet and the archive.
This is it
I don’t thing that there is a right way to organize Evernote. It’s about finding the right one for you. Hope this was useful, tell me in the comments section how you organize your Evernote.
Want to learn more about Evernote?
If the answer is yes, you should take a look at my Evernote course. Here is a discount link, because you made it this far in this article. 🙂