GTD® in Evernote

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement.” – Willard Pollard

goldfish jumping out of the water

Photo courtesy of ©

And when I had to port my Lotus Notes-based GTD® system earlier this year due to a career change, I was in total agreement with Willard Pollard … I shouldn’t have to change a single thing! I had a great system … there was no need for innovation. Creativity would surely just introduce kinks.

After weeks of much lamenting, I gave in and ported my system to Evernote. I should have done it sooner! My new Evernote-based system has improved my GTD® ecosystem in ways I could not imagine. This required change forced me to get creative and innovate my GTD® implementation. It tried 4 different configurations of Evernote but, in the end, I have a GTD® ecosystem that is far more fluid and cohesive.

Let me illustrate the basics of my Evernote GTD® implementation.

One electronic !nbox

Like most people I have many capture tools including a BlackBerry, Livescribe notebook or post-it notes, notepads or other loose paper, email, clippings from social media sites and other websites, and more. Unlike my separate Lotus Notes-based list manager, more of my capture and collection tools now point directly into my Evernote !nbox. And I can usually do this with one click. Sources include:

  • Gmail: An individual email or an entire email thread
  • BlackBerry: All on-the-go capture including voice notes, texts, social media posts or pictures
  • Livescribe: All meeting notes, brainstorm, conversation notes sync directly notes
  • Loose paper: Notes, drawings, receipts, and more are scanned or entered

Separate project files 

I then create a notebook for every project. Next actions, ticklers and waiting for’s not tied to a project each have their own notebook in a separate Single Items notebook stack.

All projects are grouped into notebook stacks that describe their status.

  • Active Projects = projects where I have at least one next action
  • Pending Availability Projects  = projects that I simply do not have the time for now but would like to work on if some free time opened up
  • Waiting For or Delegated Projects = projects that someone else is responsible for moving forward at the moment
  • Tickled or When Next In Projects = projects that are incubating, pending a date or location trigger

#2013-001 Evernote notebooks

The benefit of grouping projects like this is I can pull up next actions with a particular context for just my active projects, or just my delegated projects, simply by selecting the applicable notebook stack. I don’t have to see my @context list for ALL projects at the same time.

Customisation with tags

I use tags extensively to build out my project folders, GTD Support folders, Reference … and more. I have 9 categories of tags but usually have about 1-3 individual tags per note. For example: Each next action has at least one @Context tag. However, if it has an @Delegated next action it would also have a #People tag. @Agenda and @Waiting For items related to people I speak with regularly may also have a #People tag.

#2013-001 Evernote Tags


With this Notebooks and Tags setup, I am able to toggle with just a couple of clicks between my projects & actions, reference, horizons of focus, ticklers, checklists, someday/maybe lists, and more … within a single system.

What’s more, I am able to search this entire system – including scanned documents with a single search bar. And when I pull up the search results I know exactly which ones are projects, actions, checklists, someday/maybe items, reference items, and so forth.

I am no longer using multiple systems for my list manager, non-document reference systems, scanned documents, electronic read/review, blog management and horizons of focus.

What’s up next?

In the next blog post, I will start to delve more into how these sections are organised.

Do let me know if there are any areas you would like to know about, or if there are any questions you have.


GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. is not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Would be great to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “GTD® in Evernote

  1. I would recommend checking out for an online GTD manager.

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I did take a more detailed look at GTDAgenda and I am not getting enough additional benefit to make the switch at this point. But I will keep it in mind. Thanks!