- create an Evernote account
- create 3 notebooks1:
- “Next Actions” or “To Do”
- “Maybe” or “Someday”
- “Projects” or “Dependents”
- make Next Actions your default notebook
- delete the example notebook
- create two tags:
- create a bunch of context tags in the form “@place”; drag each under the Contexts tag
- as-needed, create project tags in the form “.name”2; drag each under the Projects tag
You have a few inboxes in your life: email, voicemail, face-to-face discussions, your imagination, etc. When a task idea comes up, figure out what the action is:
- If you can do it and want to do it, put it in Next Actions.
- If you’re not sure whether you want to do it, put it in Maybe.
- If you need to do something first, put the original action in Projects, create the prerequisit action in Next Actions, create a Project tag and tag both actions with it.
Throughout the day, check your Next Actions list filtered by context. (Evernote allows you to create tag union and intersection saved searches by Control-clicking tags.) Review your Maybe and Projects lists weekly or as often as you feel necessary and move actions to Next Actions as appropriate. My Maybe and Projects lists are very small but I think it’s important to have somewhere to park things.
There are three other notebooks that you might want to create after you’ve tried this system:
- if you’re using Evernote’s clipping or message-receiving features, you won’t want to dump everything directly into Next Actions
- when you delegate tasks, GTD advises putting them on a list for regular review; I don’t do much delegation, but I suspect it’s better to create follow-up triggers in your calendar
- you’ll have some tasks that aren’t strictly time-dependent but must be done every once in a while, I find it useful to store these in a notebook
1 You could have a single notebook and use tags for status, but since any given action is only going to have one status, I don’t see the advantage of this.
2 Other naming conventions have been proposed.