Using Evernote to Get Things Done: CEP 810 Week 4

My Dresser
My Dresser

I always have good intentions about taking notes during workshops, seminars, meetings, etc. The problem is that once I take these notes, I lack a system to organize them. I tuck them into my bag. I set them on my dresser in my bedroom. I put them into a drawer at school. You get the picture (well, in case you don’t, here is a picture). Since I don’t really remember where I stuck the notes and handouts, I never get around to reviewing them. It doesn’t take long before all the good ideas, information and plans are a distant memory.

This week in CEP 810 I learned about Getting Things Done (GTD) according to David Allen. After being introduced to many different tools that can help improve the efficiency of my workflow, I spent most of my time experimenting with Evernote. I have fallen in love with programs that sync across multiple platforms such as my computer, iPad, and phone – this is probably why I have jumped aboard the Google Drive bandwagon over the past few years – and Evernote has this same syncing capability while allowing me to organize notes, pictures, websites, documents, and even audio all in one place. These items can then be searched for and retrieved from any other web-based device.

This fits well with Allen’s five stages of mastering workflow. Step one says that it is necessary to have a place to COLLECT all the information coming in. Since Evernote allows such a variety of media (notes, pictures, audio, webclips, documents, etc), it seems like it is a great place to “dump” what Allen calls my “open loops.” Step two is to PROCESS the information and decide what should be done with each item. Evernote allows me to create a to do list (something I love to do but before now I didn’t know of a to do list that could sync between all my devices). Also, if I decide that the action is not immediate, I can use Evernote to send me a reminder at a later date. Step three is to ORGANIZE. Evernote allows me to create separate notebooks as a first level of organization. So far, I have created both a personal and professional notebook. As I get more familiar with Evernote, I will decide if two notebook are enough. Because all notes are searchable by keyword, I think step four – REVIEWING – will be pretty easy. Allen recommends reviewing at least once a week so that open loops can be processed and lists can be updated. Finally, step five is the all important DO. Without this step there would be no “Getting Things Done!” Now that my work will be collected and organized, I will be ready and able to make good choice about what needs to be done and when I need to do it.

I am excited to use Evernote to put these five steps into practice! Hopefully I’ll find it to be a great way to manage and improve the efficiency of my workflow. I have some meeting to attend this week and I will give Evernote an official test run.

If you are interested in learning more about Evernote, check out the video below. Enjoy Getting Things Done!

Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done: The art of stress-free productivity. New York: Penguin.

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