My workflow is a mess.  On Friday, I shoved an unorganized stack of folders, Post-It notes, loose papers, and journals into my briefcase (not to mention over one hundred and twenty e-mail messages in my inbox) and headed out the door, pretending that somehow I would spend the necessary time this weekend to get it all organized.  Yeah, right.

During my work days, information seems to come at me in all directions, and I currently do a pretty miserable job of collecting, and managing, the bits and pieces.


Phone calls, meeting notes, tweets, paperwork, student referrals, conversations, ideas I have, and, of course, e-mail, all become a cluttered mess in my briefcase, and in my mind.  Something has to change.

That is why, for the remainder of our second quarter, I have decided to go “all-in” with Evernote.  I already use Evernote on a daily basis, but for the next month and a half, I am going to collect everything in this space, and process items from my Evernote notebooks.  In order to do this, I am going to rely on a specific notebook organization, as well as some third-party apps.  Here is my plan.


I will keep things simple, with a relatively limited number of notebooks.  A while back I read about how Christopher Mayo uses an Evernote system with a single notebook, and saved searches to stay organized.  I like the simplicity of this, but think I will need a few notebooks to keep my daily life sorted out.  However, Christopher’s method of naming notes drastically reduces the need for tags.

My work notebooks will include:

  • Inbox (a default notebook to be reviewed weekly)
  • Email (I am able to save directly from Outlook to Evernote)
    • Actionable
    • Reference
  • Things to Do (next actions)
    • Work Stuff
    • Home Stuff
    • Other Stuff
  • Active Projects (notebook stack with all current projects)
  • Calendar (notebook stack, by month, with daily journals)
  • Archive (completed, or reference items, will be filed here using Christopher’s system)

In addition to the web, desktop, and mobile versions of Evernote, I will also be using several apps to add functionality to this system.

If This Then That (IFTTT) – an AWESOME application that allows for the creation of algorithms that automate many actions (such as saving Tweets, articles, photos, etc. to Evernote).

Drafts – a very light, and simple note taking application.  This is a fantastic iOS app for making quick notes and dropping them into Evernote (or other applications).  It can be connected with Evernote, Twitter, Dropbox,  E-mail, Google+, and more.

Gneo – an iOS task app with Evernote integration.  Tasks created in Gneo are synced with a notebook in Evernote.  Awesome.

Of course I will also be using Evernote Web Clipper, and Clearly to save things of interest from Chrome.  In addition, I am experimenting with a new iOS app called Lightly, to do the same from my iPhone.

So here I go…thirty five days of Evernote.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.  I’d love to hear from others (including school administrators) about how you use Evernote (or related applications, like IFTTT) to manage your workflow.

Wishing you all a productive week!

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  • Sam Patterson

    Just saw an ifttt that transcribes voicemail into evernote, so many options

    • azjd

      IFTTT seems to have endless possibilities for automating, and recording information. It is a great tool.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Sam!

  • Yves Mainville

    Been there… :)

    Juggling information and where I stored, accessed and managed it became nightmarish for me as well. Then through course study I had come across Evernote, webclipper, skitch, etc. and was amazed with the simplicity of the tool

    Anyways, I ended making a course assignment out of it. Should it be of any help to you, feel free to read / use / share as you see fit: http://etec.ctlt.ubc.ca/510wiki/Evernote_as_an_Educational_Tool

    • azjd

      Thanks for reading and commenting Yves. Your course assignment is fantastic! I shared it on Twitter, and have saved it for future reference.


  • buistbunch

    I love using IFTTT and Evernote. Right now I have two recipes turned on for Evernote. One is brand new and haven’t used it yet. It creates a meeting note in Evernote whenever I add a meeting to Gmail calendar (https://ifttt.com/recipes/128934). I think this will be particularly useful for me, because I fumble around early in meetings setting up the note (title, tags, notebook, etc.). The other recipe is sending articles from Pocket to Evernote (https://ifttt.com/recipes/128935). I use Pocket to read articles and Evernote to save them. There is some redundancy to this, but it’s working for me right now.

    • azjd

      That’s awesome Michael. The “meeting note” recipe will be particularly useful for me.

      As always — thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great week!

  • http://www.anytodo.com/ Tatum Keane

    Great blog Jeff! One option could be to move your ‘Things to Do’ notebooks into the Gneo Stack on Evernote to sync your tasks with Gneo if you haven’t done so already! Also, if you use the Inbox notebook created in the Gneo Stack on Evernote rather than a different Inbox notebook you can sync these with Gneo also.

    Another IFTTT recipe you might be interested in adds any Reminders you add to Apple’s Reminder’s app to Gneo through Evernote. https://ifttt.com/recipes/124073

    Good luck with your next 30 days of organization!

    • azjd

      Thanks for the suggestions Tatum. I have already eliminated the redundancy of having a “things to do” notebook, and I took your suggestion of using the inbox in the Gneo stack. I am just processing out of Gneo. Great idea! So far, I am really liking Gneo and the way it complements Evernote.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Stephen Pottage

    Hi Jeff,

    If you are really serious about moving to an “all-in” Evernote workflow, take a look at the Livescribe pens. I’ve been using one for a couple of years and can’t imagine working without one.

    • azjd

      Hey Stephen…I actually have a Livescribe pen, but haven’t used it too much. Charging it up, as we speak :)

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  • http://www.jasonfrasca.com/deconstructing-tech-blog/ Jason Frasca

    Hi Jeff,

    Nice post! Nothing is better than Evernote to get yourself organized! I have been using IFTTT to connect my Google Calendar and Evernote. Reach out if that interests you. My importantly, I just wrote about how I am now using Gmail URLs to connect my Gmail with my Evernote Notes for simpler and faster productivity, perhaps this will help you out a bit:http://bit.ly/1bzLmSK

    Good luck!!

  • Bart Miller

    I’ve found tagging to be the most important tool in Evernote. Considering how I am likely to use and search for information later has made my growing collection of notes very useful and interconnected. I shared some thoughts on using Evernote to facilitate inquiry learning and teaching at Inquire Within: http://inquiryblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/inquiry-with-evernote-vol-1/

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