Cross platform GTD in Evernote

I got a request on Twitter recently (hi, @girvo!) to update how I use GTD now that I’ve switched platforms. It’s pretty simple, and if you’ve been reading my stuff recently, it should come as no surprise that I’m doing it almost entirely in Evernote.

I have everything in one big notebook now in Evernote, using tags and saved searches to find things (a la Gmail). For things in my GTD system, I have two tags to use: “!GTD” (the intial bang sorts it at the top of the tag list and distinguishes it from the tag “gtd” which I use for notes about GTD) and “Context”. If I bring up notes with the !GTD tag, I see at least eight notes, sometimes more:


This is a list of projects, outcomes I want to achieve that consist of more than one action. For example:

Write Titanus first draft

Write Revelation first draft

Post to at least once a week

Paint bathroom


This is a list of things that have been on my mind, but I have no commitment to accomplish them in the foreseeable future:

Stream media from PC to TV

Use Wii Fit for workouts

.Waiting For

This is a list of things I have on hold until someone else gets back to me. I consult this once a week to see if I need to ping people.

All of the lists that begin with an at sign are contexts, and tagged as such so that I can have a saved search called “Task Lists” that shows only those notes.


This is for next actions that require some kind of computer/internet access, but no specific resources (like my iTunes library on my home desktop or the ticketing system we use at work). Basically this is stuff I can do with my iPhone if necessary.


Both housecleaning and computing tasks that require a computer at my house (iTunes and gaming stuff, mostly) go on this list.


This is for stuff I have to do at the office.


This is mostly for errands or things involving my car.


And lastly, a list for phone calls I have to make. This is usually a pretty sparse list as I avoid voice calls as much as possible, preferring less intrusive and time asynchronous SMS and email.

I currently also have a couple projects I’ve removed from the .Projects list so I can do “back of the envelope” planning. For example, I have a note called “Fix Neon” consisting of:

Get engine diagnostic

Check heat issue

Replace windshield

Replace taillights

Fix dashboard short

Replace driver door

Replace passenger mirror

Replace steering column

(yes, there’s a reason my friends refer to my car as the Millennium Falcon)

Next actions in Google Calendar For things that are time-sensitive, I schedule the next actions on my Google calendar. For things that have to be done at a specific time, I put them at that time, but for most things that have to be done just on a certain day, I schedule them as free, all-day events.

For collection, I can have any number of notes, all tagged with “Inbox”. These can be pictures, voice notes, text notes, even clipped web pages. Every so often, I go through my Inbox saved search and process these, adding new projects or next actions to my core lists as necessary.

When I’m on the go and looking for something to do, I’ll bring up my Task Lists saved search in Evernote and open the appropriate context. When I’m done with a task, I simply delete that row. Evernote supports adding checkboxes to notes, but doing so means I can’t edit those notes on my iPhone, something that’s vital to my system. So I keep it simple, my notes in Evernote not all that different from the paper note cards so many GTDers use.

To me, the real advantage of this system is that it will work anywhere. Windows PC, Mac, Linux (through, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile or just about anything else that can use either the full or mobile versions of the Evernote website. As long as I have an internet connection, I have GTD. And even when I don’t have an internet connection, I have the cached versions of my lists that I’ve marked as favorites on my iPhone, so I at least have older versions to work with.

How are you using GTD?

2 thoughts on “Cross platform GTD in Evernote”

  1. Thanks for both the shoutout and the brilliant post! I’m tempted to give evernote a go!

    Im currently using your “fast GTD in winmo” system with some tweaks for my Omnia. I couple that with a physical inbox at home and im set 🙂

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