Saying I have a lot going on would be an understatement. Between working 50+ hours per week, keeping up with my blog and Instagram, being an active member of the Junior League, managing marketing for Michael’s private chef business, getting things done around the house and of course spending time with Michael, our family and our friends, staying organized is critical for me to ensure I don’t let anything slip. I’ve always been an avid to-do list-er, but I’ve recently stepped up my to-do list game with a system that’s been life changing for me.
It All Starts in Evernote
First, I use my own adapted version of the “Action Method” and keep my master to-do lists in Evernote. I discovered this method in the book, Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky and made it my own. Basically, it boils down to this:
- Everything is a project. Literally everything. Each client I have has a note in Evernote. My blog has a note in Evernote. My personal life has a note in Evernote. These notes are how I manage all of my life’s projects.
- In each project note, I have two key lists: Action Items and Backlog. If something has a deadline, it goes in my Action Items list. If it does not, it goes in my Backlog, and it’ll move up to Action Items once I have a timeline for it. Action Items are noted with checkboxes, and Backlog items are noted with a bullet. You’ll see why that’s important in a minute.
- Everything I need to do in life is added to a project note as either an Action Item or a Backlog item, no matter how small. Unless I’m taking care of it right away, it gets added to a list to ensure I don’t forget it. This includes even mundane things like replying to an email.
- Depending on the complexity of the project, I may also have a third list called Awaiting. This is a bulleted list of anything anyone else owes me. These items are not necessarily actionable for me at the moment, but they are things I’m waiting on to move to a next step.
Syncing Evernote to My To-Do List App, Remember the Milk
I could keep this entire system in Evernote, and I’m sure it would work. However, I’ve found greater success by syncing my Evernote Action Items lists into my go-to to-do list app, Remember the Milk (RTM). Here’s how to set this up like I did:
- Create Lists in RTM. I have two: Work and Personal.
- Set up Tags in RTM. I have a bunch of these: one for every client I have at work, one for Work|Wear|Wander, one for Michael’s business, one for home, the list goes on…
- Set up the TaskClone connector. TaskClone is what I use to actually connect Evernote and RTM so I don’t have to manually add my action items to both platforms.
- Add action items in project notes in Evernote. Be sure you’re using actual “to-do” items in Evernote (they’ll have a check box next to them). You can find these in Format > Insert To-Do.
- Add RTM “smart add” codes to your action items in Evernote. I use ones for due date, list and tag, as shown below.
- Once you’re ready to sync your list from Evernote to RTM, simply add the “taskclone” tag to the Evernote note, and within a few minutes, you’ll see it in RTM!
A quick note on the sync: It’s not automatic. Evernote will only sync to RTM when the “taskclone” tag is added to the note. If you add new tasks, you need to add the tag again (you’ll see it goes away once items sync). I prefer it this way, as it enables me to clean up my task lists before I sync them over and actually make them actionable. I often throw things in there throughout the day and only organize them at specific intervals.
Maintaining Lists Daily
As I go through my day, I check tasks off in RTM as I complete them. At the end of every day, I review my lists in Evernote to remove anything I’ve checked off in RTM (the sync is not bi-directional) and add any new things that have come in, or move things from my backlog up to my action item list. I use this quieter end-of-day time to get reorganized, as I often “throw” things into these lists through the day as they come up.
I’ve been using this system for a couple months now, and it’s been life changing! I hope it works for you too!