Using Evernote to manage my team and me

I’ve been implementing my own version of GTD using Evernote, and have come up with a good way to stay in touch with management of my team.

Action / Context tags

One aspect of my Evernote system is context tags. These all start with ‘@’, which keeps them near the top of the tag list, and tells me what type of note it is. I started off just using @action, which told me I had to do something. As I got more comfortable with Evernote I realised I could expand this to include other types of activity. I now use 5 context tags:

  • @action – something I need to do
  • @waiting for – something that someone else (not in my team) is doing for me
  • @delegate – something I have given to my team to do
  • @feedback – specific feedback that I want to give to my team members
  • @discuss – something I want to discuss

These have really helped me stay on top of things. It’s easy to forget what you’ve asked your guys to do, and easy to forget specific feedback you want to give. Using these tags allow me to get closer to Dave Allen’s ‘Mind like water’.

Name tags

I tag each note with the name of the person that it relates to. I have one tag for each member of my team, and a tag for other key stakeholders (eg wife, boss, mother-in-law etc…)

So when I’m preparing for a one to one with a team member I pull up their name tag, and use the context tags to remind me what I’ve delegated, what needs to be fed-back and so on.

Trusted system

Now my team management is completely out of my head, in a trusted system. I add notes as they occur, and then can forget about it until the appropriate time. Dave Allen would be proud (I hope…!)

For info on my notebook and tag setup, check out this post, and for an honest appraisal of my first ever GTD attempt using Evernote, click here

My big fat Evernote and GTD fail

If you’ve been following my blog you will have noticed that I have attempted to implement GTD and Evernote in order to become more productive.

Sadly this attempt failed! This blog is going to share the reasons for the failure in order to help me (try again), and help you (avoid these pitfalls)…

Too busy

As I began the implementation of GTD and Evernote I was entering a really busy time at work (budgets and pricing) and at home (selling and buying a house). Looking back this was a bad idea…

The first 2 weeks were like a honeymoon; the new processes were shiny and exciting and I found time to make sure that I prioritised them. Sadly I found myself struggling to hit deadlines as the weeks rolled on so I needed to focus on the ‘must do’ actions.

The learn from this is that I need to find a quieter month to allow the new system to embed itself in my life and become second nature. GTD and Evernote will have become my way of working so that when I’m really busy again I’m already up and running.

Didn’t finish reading David Allen’s book before I started

This is me all over – not reading the manual and diving straight into the processes. The main issue here is that I ended up partially applying the themes and processes of GTD. Anyone who knows anything about GTD knows that that’s not a good way to approach it!

The learn from this fail is that I need to finish the book, and then probably read a second time before attempting to implement it.

Didn’t do a weekly review

A key feature of GTD that you hear experts (such as Daniel Gold) recommending is the weekly review. Hands up, I just didn’t do this.

The outcome of this was to end up building a really big pile of crap (ie lots and lots of notes) that just gets bigger every week and started to make me feel like I didn’t know where anything was. Even though it was ALL in Evernote!

The learn for next time is to prioritise and schedule my weekly review. I’ll probably sneak off at lunch time on Friday to do this 30 minute activity.


In short, implementing GTD is hard enough – but doing it at the same time as Evernote during a really busy time is not smart!

If you want to give GTD or Evernote a try, then I hope you learned a bit from my fails. Don’t forget to check out David Allen’s original GTD book on Amazon, and Daniel Gold’s GTD and Evernote book on Amazon.