Best setup yet?
My favorite GTD
Evernote setup
so far.

[Updated] GTD/Evernote System Inspired by Kelly Forrister, 40Tech, Zen Habits, and Experimentation (Part 1)

Update: Commenting has been restored after a problem with a new plugin. Thanks for letting me know, everybody!

At the beginning of 2011, GTD Times posted an interesting article called “Waiting For” Advice. Within that post was a screenshot of the GTD setup that Kelly Forrister (GTD coach at DavdCo) uses via eProductivity. Instantly I could see a killer Evernote notebook structure that would work great without the need for stacks (read: works great on all mobile operating systems).

Here’s the notebook structure:

This setup is stupid simple and has been fairly bullet proof for several weeks now. Every action is within easy reach, whether I’m on the web or viewing my notes on a mobile phone. Routines, a Kelly Forrister recommendation, is a notebook of checklists, marked as daily, weekly, monthly etc. When… is a list of actions I intend or need to take once something has happened or I’m in a particular place in the future (such as “When I’ve moved into the new apartment”).

Zen Habits also inspired me to add an M.I.T. notebook that reminds me of the most important tasks of the day.

But there were several things missing from Kelly’s setup I thought could be added to the Evernote setup:

  • Project support files
  • Ticklers
  • References

Project support files

As recommended by David Allen, we should have a list of our active projects. I accomplish this with notebooks, one for personal projects, the other for work. These notebooks DO NOT contain support materials, since that would clutter the view.

Instead I create tags that match the name of the project, assign the tags to the proper support notes, and store the notes in 04. Support (projects). Because Evernote allows linking between notes, I can even filter by tag then copy and paste the note links into the parent project note. Works like a charm.


For a solid Evernote based tickler system, I’ve turned to the setup that posted about a while ago. Requires tags for Days (1-31) and Months (January – December). I have a notebook called Ticklers so anything can technically be thrown in there, but assigning tags makes filtering (and obviously reviewing by day/month) a breeze.


For me, References are old files I want to keep. Based again on a recommendation by David Allen, I’ve created A-Z tags with the occasional subtags for further filtering. Everything is tagged alphabetically.

Obviously I haven’t tagged every note quite yet.

Other GTD needs

So far this seems to be the most straightforward and easiest to maintain GTD setup I’ve ever used in Evernote. Granted I’ve not yet covered all our needs; Areas, Goals, Calendar, and other topics still need to be adressed.

As always, feedback is welcome and I hope my ideas are helping!

Related Posts:


12 Responses to “[Updated] GTD/Evernote System Inspired by Kelly Forrister, 40Tech, Zen Habits, and Experimentation (Part 1)”

  1. 1
    Weszt | Reply
    December 6, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Comments have been restored!

  2. 2
    December 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    [...] GTD/Evernote System Inspired by Kelly Forrister, 40Tech, Zen Habits, and Experimentation (Part 1) [...]

  3. 3
    December 9, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Are you using any saved searches?

    • 3.1
      Weszt | Reply
      December 18, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Not currently, no. Have you found these to be useful?

  4. 4
    January 3, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Yes. Saved searches are great to pickup criteria. For example, I have saved searches to display all documents (Word, Excel, etc), notes with no tags, active tasks (with the Evernote Todo checkbox), etc.

    • 4.1
      Weszt | Reply
      January 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

      I started playing with saved searches after your earlier comment and found myself using them similarly. I’m a songwriter and I keep tons of audio files in Evernote – helped tremendously to have search specific to those kinds of notes. Also using them for Maps.

      I didn’t know you search for active/inactive tasks… interesting.

  5. 5
    January 3, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I like your idea of multiple notebooks- another take is do it all with one or two notebooks and use saved searches to display the data you want :-)

    However, I do like the multiple Notebook idea as it is mobile friendly for my iPhone and iPad.

    Please don’t stop writing about GTD, you have great ideas and I have been following you for a while.

    • 5.1
      Weszt | Reply
      January 4, 2012 at 6:40 am

      I’ve experimented with one or two notebooks but that didn’t seem to work well on mobile. Still find it annoying to drill through tag hierarchies on a phone where notebooks are one click.

      I imagine, though, there’s much left to try.

      Thanks for the encouragement. It does mean a lot.

  6. 6
    February 8, 2012 at 4:53 am

    I really dig your posts on GTD. I would find it sad if you decide to stop sharing your thoughts and experiments.

    Too see how much i like your posts see (no spam) :)

    • 6.1
      Weszt | Reply
      February 15, 2012 at 6:57 am

      Richard – thank you so much for the support! Glad I’ve been able to help.

      I’m considering my options at this point, gauging where I feel I and Hanami Design need to go. I’m still actively exploring GTD and Evernote, but need to pursue a related project to see what my next steps should be.

      I am writing, so hopefully I’ll be more ready to share soon.

    • 6.2
      Weszt | Reply
      February 15, 2012 at 6:58 am

      Great, post by the way! Looks like you’re doing a lot of exploring, too!

  7. 7
    February 28, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

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