How-to: Manage your tasks with Evernote
Manage your tasks with Evernote
You probably have lots of tasks to keep track of, for all aspects of your life. For maximum productivity and for sanity’s sake, it’s critical to have a system that helps you keep on top of all the to-do’s in your life. Evernote is not just your workspace for tracking ideas and projects, it can also be the central spot for organizing and monitoring your tasks. Here’s how.
Basic task management
If you have relatively straightforward task management needs, a simple list or two of your tasks may be all you need. For instance, if you want to create a checklist of your work or personal tasks, just add a new note by clicking +New Note, and rename it 'Personal Tasks.'
Once you have created your new note, it’s time to add your tasks. Click on the checkbox icon, then start typing your first task. When you hit return, Evernote will automatically add a new checkbox for your next task.
Continue adding all your tasks to this note. If you have broad categories of tasks, separate them with titles in bold or in a different font color.
If some of your tasks relate to other notes you have in Evernote, you can access them with a single click by linking your notes together. For instance, a grocery list may be too long to include directly in a task list (the task itself is actually Go grocery shopping), but you’d want quick access to it directly from the task. To do so, we’ll create a note link.
Find the note that you want to link to. In this case, it’s the Grocery List note. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac), and select 'Copy Note Link' from the menu.
Go back to your Personal Tasks list. Highlight the Go grocery shopping task. While the text is selected, Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac), and select ‘Link' or ‘Hyperlink' then ‘Add' from the menu.
In the pop-up window, just hit Ctrl+V (Windows) or Command+V to paste the note link, then click OK.
Once the note link has been added, you can simply click on the task with the underlined text, and you’ll go directly to the related note. You can navigate back to your task list by clicking the back button in the toolbar.
After you’ve added all your tasks, you probably want to access your task list pretty frequently so you can stay organized and on track. For quick access to your task list, drag it to the Shortcuts section in the sidebar.
Now you have one-click access to all of your tasks.
As you complete tasks in your list, you can simply click on an item's checkbox to mark it as completed. You can also do this on your phone or tablet as you complete tasks on the go.
Enhanced task management
For more complex needs, such as keeping track of detailed project or task status, seeing which team member is responsible for a specific task, or managing tasks across many notebooks, you’ll need a different approach.
Start by considering how you want to filter or view your tasks. You may want to view them by status (to-do, doing, done), by project or customer/client (‘Newsletter' or 'Smith Account'), or by team member (Josh, Chris, Emma) - or by a combination of those characteristics. Spend a few moments considering what your filters might be. The list could look something like this:
- Project name
- Customer name (last name, first name)
- Company name
- First name
- North America
- South America
Once you’ve determined what your filters should be, you’ll use your list to create tags, which will let you filter your notes by those characteristics. A very useful feature of tags is the ability to find tagged notes regardless of what notebook they are in, letting you filter your notes across your notebooks.
To add a tag, first open a note for which you’d like to apply a tag. Click the tag icon at the top of the note, and enter the name of the tag.
You’ll see the tag applied at the top of the note. If you want to add additional tags, just click next to the one you just added, and start typing the name of the next tag, then hit enter or return when you’re done. You can add as many tags as you need to - for instance, task status, along with who on your team is responsible for it.
After you’ve added a tag to any note once, as you start typing in the tag entry box to add a tag to a new note, any tags you previously created will pop up automatically. In Evernote Business, anyone on your team who has access to a notebook that has one or more tags applied will automatically have access to those tags.
Continue adding tags to your notes that contain tasks you want to monitor.
Reviewing your tasks
Once you’ve added tags to notes that need them, you’ll next want to be able to filter your notes by one or more tags. There are a couple of ways to do this.
To view all of your tags, click 'Tags' on the sidebar. You’ll see all your tags, and if you’re using Evernote Business, you’ll also see all the tags that are applied to notes in business notebooks you have access to.
When you click on a tag, all the notes that have that tag applied will appear in your note list, regardless of what notebook they are in. You can quickly see all the tasks assigned to a given team member or for a specific project. In this case, we've clicked on the tag ‘John' and are seeing all the notes assigned to him.
If you want quick access to specific tags, just drag the tag or tags you want to Shortcuts in the sidebar. Anytime you click on the shortcut, you’ll see just the notes that have that tag applied. This is especially handy for a quick view of status for tasks. For instance, drag the tags for 'To-Do,' ‘Doing' and ‘Done' to Shortcuts, and you are only a click away from seeing the status of all your tasks.
In some cases, you may want to filter by multiple tags at once - for instance, if you want to see all the tasks that a team member is currently working on. In that case, you’d want to filter by their name (in this example, John) and status (To-Do).
Windows: Click ‘Notes' in the sidebar to view your note list. At the top of the note list, click to filter by tag, and choose the tags that you want to filter by.
You can choose more than one tag - in this case, we’ll add the tags for ‘John' and 'To-Do' to monitor the tasks that are on John’s plate.
As you add each tag, you’ll notice your note list filtering your notes by the tags you’ve added. This way, you can see just the tasks (represented by notes) that correspond to any combination of status, person, or project. In the example above, we can now see all the tasks that John has yet to do.
If you want to reuse this combination of tags in the future, simply create a saved search. To do this, make sure the search box reflects the combination of tags that you want, click in the search box, then click 'Save Search.' You’ll be prompted to enter a name for your saved search.
Once you save it, you’ll see it in the drop-down list anytime you click the search box. You can add saved searches and shortcuts for any of the tags or combinations of tags you’ve created to filter your tasks.
Just drag the saved search from the drop-down menu over to shortcuts.
Mac: Click ‘Notes' in the sidebar to view your note list, then click the search box. At the bottom of the search box pop-up menu, click 'Add Search Option,’ then select ‘Tag.' Choose the first tag you want from the list, then click ‘Add.' In this example, we’ll first add the ‘John' tag, and then we’ll add another for 'To-Do.'
We now see our notes filtered to show just John’s to-do items.
To save this search for reuse, we can create a saved search. In the menu bar, click 'Edit > Find > Save Search,' then enter a name for the search.
Your saved search now appears in the search box. For one-click access to it, just drag it from the search box to Shortcuts.
Adjusting task status
Over time, your tasks will change. Team members will move from project to project, status of tasks will change, and so on. Make sure to update your tags over time to reflect the changing nature of your tasks.
To update your tasks, open a note that contains one or more of the tags you’re using to filter your tasks. You can delete a tag by selecting it and then entering delete on your keyboard.
Once the no-longer-relevant tag has been removed, add a tag to indicate what the update is. For instance, if a task that was in the To-Do stage is now being worked on, remove the old tag and replace it with a tag for ‘Doing.' If you’ve used a tag before, it will show up as soon as you start typing.
Maintaining your tags is essential for effective task management. Get in the habit of adjusting your tags as you tasks and projects change. If you’re working on a team, make sure everyone understands how and when to adjust tags for the notes and tasks they are working on.