I work in Corporate America. I invest in real estate on the side. I am married with no kids. I am quite OCD, especially about organization. I have spent countless hours researching how other people use Evernote to 'remember everything' and 'get things done'. I have spent significantly more hours setting up this system than I have saved using this system. Hopefully that will change.
Anyway, I wanted to share how I organize Evernote, which is really just The Secret Weapon (TSW) slightly tweaked for my personal needs. This system, in my opinion, limits decisions points (i.e., where should I put this note and how should it be tagged?), effectively tracks action items through to completion, and allows me to save and organize everything else.
I will try to keep this explanation clear and concise; here it goes...
Limited number of notebooks. I have four:
!inbox - Everyone seems to have this one down. This is my default notebook where all notes start before being filed and tagged. Work and personal emails, webclips, random notes and ideas, etc. Case in point, I am writing this in a note that is currently in my !Inbox folder.
Action Items (2) - This is a notebook stack for my notes that require action. There are two notebooks inside: Open and Complete. I'm sure you can guess what's in each.
Cabinet - Essentially, this is a notebook for all notes that don't require action. I put meeting notes, receipts, webclips, etc. in this notebook.
Contextual TaggingI only use tags for context. The tags answer where, when, and what.
where - All notes get a where tag. This answers what part of my life the note pertains to (e.g., @work, @home)
when - All Open Action Item notes get a when tag. This is how I prioritize notes requiring action. Each of these tags are mutually exclusive. Once the Open Action Item is completed, I remove the when tag and move the note to the Complete notebook. Below is a description of each when tag:
what - I use this tag for notes that go in the Cabinet folder. It helps me quickly find things like receipts, meeting minutes, templates, webclips, etc. Not all notes in the Cabinet get a what tag, but many do.
1-now - get it done today / tomorrow
2-next - get it done this week
3-later - get it done within two to four weeks
4-someday - get it done someday
5-waiting - getting it done is dependent on action by someone else (e.g., you are waiting for someone to reply to your email)
TSW recommends a who context as well, but for me that was spiraling out of control quickly, so I nixed it. If a note is associated with a certain person, I usually just try to make sure their name is included in the note itself.
Here is a screenshot of my system:
I hope this helps at least one person out there!