My GTD + Evernote system for getting stuff done

My GTD + Evernote system for getting stuff done

When it comes to attacking my to-do list, I like the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach. Based on the book by David Allen, this productivity philosophy is focused on getting tasks and projects out of your mind and recording them externally. Once you've recorded a task, you need to break it down into actionable items and define the next action.

You can choose any method of recording tasks that works for you - as long as they're out of your head. Although I use notebooks a lot (I have a black Moleskine one, which isn't very daring of me), my main system is in Evernote. Here's my process for making it work, which is very much inspired by The Secret Weapon.

I have four notebooks in Evernote:

  1. Tasks - all of my active tasks (current and planned) go here
  2. Cabinet - here I store articles I'd like to read, copies of documents, that kind of thing
  3. Clippings - my Kindle highlights and notes are automatically synced here
  4. Complete - I move tasks here once complete


Clippings is probably my favourite notebook of all: I love being able to find what I've highlighted in Kindle books and keep track of what's inspiring me. To export my Kindle clippings and integrate with Evernote, I use the app.


Within Tasks, I rely a lot on tags to keep things organised. My tags are grouped into four main categories:

  • .What
  • .When
  • .Where
  • .Who

.What is probably the busiest of them all. It's broken down into:

  • .Active Projects
  • .Inactive Projects
  • .Knowledge
  • .To Read/Review
  • .Buy

Each of these has a few (ok, a lot of) layers beneath them:

  • .Active Projects
    • Active.Business Projects
    • Active.Creative Projects
    • Active.Life Organisation
    • Active.Personal Project
  • .Inactive Projects
    • Inactive.Business Projects
    • Inactive.Creative Projects
    • Inactive.Life Organisation
    • Inactive.Personal Project
  • .Knowledge
    • Business Knowledge
    • General Knowledge
    • Science Knowledge
    • Reading
      • Action points from books
      • Life lessons from books
  • .To Read/Review
  • .Buy

If something applied to General Knowledge, I wouldn't also tag .Knowledge. I only choose the tag that's lowest down in that hierarchy.

Once I've assigned the correct .What tags to a task (normally just one or two), I decide .When:

  • !Daily
  • 1 - Now
  • 2 - Next
  • 3 - Soon
  • 4 - Later
  • 5 - Someday
  • 6 - Waiting

As every task has a time frame, this means I can then easily see what I need to get done that day or week by clicking on the relevant .When tag.

Once a week, usually on Sundays, I'll look at .Active Projects and decide on my tasks for the week, ideally with some sort of balance behind it and a focus on my current priorities.

Next up is .Where, which is simply:

  • @home
  • @work

The GTD + Evernote system that I based this on – The Secret Weapon – also has a .Who tag, but I never needed to use this (which might say a few things about me).

Does this system look like madness? Perhaps! But it helps keep my head a lot clearer, which in turn allows more important stuff to happen in it. Try and find a system that does that for you, no matter how simple or complex you want it.

Scratch your own itch with at least one side project

Scratch your own itch with at least one side project

My XYZ system for habits and productivity

My XYZ system for habits and productivity