How To Switch From Pen And Paper To Evernote

It might feel odd at first.

It might feel strange.

Switching from a pencil and paper notebook to Evernote. Where to get started and what to look out for?

I personally love Evernote. If you are like me and you have trouble remembering stuff (Is it me or is there just too much to keep track of?) than Evernote might be for you

This free digital tool can become one of your best productivity tools. It can hold your to-do lists, wild ideas, cooking recipes and so on. It’s great. You have all your notes in one place.

Best of all, Evernote syncs with your mobile device so you can take your digital notepad with you. No matter where you are.

But, switching from a pencil and paper style notebook to Evernote is not easy. I frequently switched back to writing some to-do’s on paper and then checking Evernote to see more to-do’s. If you ask me, you need one place for all your notes and to-do’s.

Let me explain how this worked for me.

Getting started with Evernote

I am a big fan of two time management techniques, namely Getting Things Done and Stephen Covey’s Quadrants. Those two combined are what really drives my productivity through the roof.

As such, I implement a lot of GTD (short for ‘Getting Things Done’ ) tactics. This means I really love to tackle incoming, new tasks straight away. Everything that I can complete within 2 minutes will be completed right away. But there are also tasks that can’t be completed in such a timeframe. I usually write down these new to-do’s on a sticky note. But wait… I do use Evernote, but not just yet.

Then, when I have completed my most important to-do’s (usually somewhere around the beginning of the afternoon) I look at this sticky note. Usually there are a couple of new to-do’s on there. So I take this sticky note and write down all new to-do’s in Evernote.

In this way all of my to-do’s are collected in Evernote. Whenever I need to check my priorities I have one place to look at. Whenever I have some spare minutes, I can check one place to see if I have any small to-do’s (e.g. making a short phone call, sending an e-mail etc.).

How to use Evernote with GTD

Personally, but this might not work for you, I like to create various lists in Evernote. Despite what is recommended in David Allen’s ‘ Getting Things Done’ I don’t use contextual to-do lists. That is, I don’t have a list for ‘ people to call’ , ‘ documents to read’ etc. I have actually two main notebooks in Evernote, which are ‘Work’ and ‘ Personal’. I also have some notebooks for (large) sideprojects.

In my Work notebook I have several tags, namely:

  • !-Daily
  • 1-Now
  • 2-Next
  • 3-Soon
  • 4-Later
  • 5-Someday / Maybe (for ideas and to-do’s that are not yet actionable, but that might become actions later)
  • 6-waiting (this is may ‘waiting for’-list, used for keeping track of any delegated tasks or responses I am awaiting.)
  • 7-Weekly
  • 8-Monthly

In this way I can easily map my to-do’s based on priorities. I usually work form my Daily, Now and Next list. I see Evernote as my Master To-Do list, it holds all of my things I need to do. I see my tags as separate to-do lists, based on priorities.

Full disclosure, I have not created this system. It’s actually called ‘ The Secret Weapon’ and I just happened to discover it mid 2015.

I highly recommend checking out their website. It contains all kinds of information about this system and how to set it up.

What about you?

And, what do you think? Would this digital approach be suited for your needs? Would it be a painful process to switch from pen and paper to digital tools?

Leave a Comment: