Evernote… do you love it or hate it?? For a long, long time I had Evernote but didn’t really use it. I couldn’t figure out how to really integrate it into how I work in a way that made things easier. I loved the concept, but my so-well-thought-out Notebooks were mostly empty and once notes were filed… they were never read again.

Over the last year, I’ve come up with a system that really works well for Evernote. I thought I’d share it, along with a few other tips I’ve gathered up along the way…

Notebooks or tags?

  • In general, I’m a fan of ‘flat’ filing (a Get Things Done/GTD philosophy!) and this goes triple for Evernote. Almost all of my notes live in one notebook called the Filing Cabinet. All organization is done via tags. Why this way?
  • Evernote limits the number of notebooks – tags have a much higher limit
  • No more searching through notebook stacks, trying to remember where you stashed the note
    Tags can be arranged into multiple levels if desired
  • Evernote only allows a note to be in ONE notebook, but some notes have multiple ‘applications’ which is much better handled with tags

Asana/Project Management, Evernote and Inbox Zero

I try to keep my inbox empty and use a mix of Asana (my project management tool) and Evernote to do that. Both Asana and Evernote have dedicated emails, so it’s easy to send an email from my inbox to the ‘next stop.’ It can be a little confusing if you are using both platforms… “where did I send that email??”

I used to wonder that a lot.

Now I follow a pretty strict rule. Emails that require action are sent to Asana to be added to the relevant project or to my general to do list (like video trainings I’d like to watch.) Reference emails that do not require action get sent to Evernote.

How I structure Evernote

There are two main ways to sort in Evernote: notebooks and tags. I’ve marked my notebooks below in pink and main tag types in green…



I don’t have a ton of notebooks anymore, less than 10. The main ones I use are…

  • Inbox – my default notebook where all unfiled/new notes go
  • Filing Cabinet – the main notebook where most notes end up living
  • Inventory – specific to my business, a visual reference/inventory of the fabrics and trims for Three Snugbugs Studios
  • Reference – receipts, invoices, contracts, etc.
  • Freebies – a special notebook that has all the freebies/lead generators that I’ve downloaded for reference. Until recently, these were only tagged as .freebie, but I moved into a dedicated notebook in order to easily share with others.
  • Memories – personal/family notes


Next up is tags. This might look a little complicated, but it really is helpful!

Basically I have three main types of tags, and each of those types has lots of sub-tags. The cool trick is each type (and sub-type) starts with a different punctuation mark which creates a sort of ‘drop down’ functionality when I’m adding tags. I just hit the punctuation mark (the asterisk, period or carrot) and Evernote pops up a dropdown list with all the tags that start with that mark (even works in the Safari browser Evernote clipper!) Using the punctuation marks to sort the main tag types helps me apply an animal, vegetable or mineral tagging discipline to my notes that really comes in handy when I’m searching for notes later on!

  • .type {all tags start with ‘.’} – used to tag more general information like what type of file it is (.PDF, .email, .note, .webpage, .blog post), the source (specific people’s names like .marie forleo, major websites like .medium, etc.) and then a few special ones like ‘.freebie’ and ‘.inspiration’
  • *topic {all tags start with ‘*’} – these tags have more to do with the content, things like… *offerings, *social media, *swipe (‘swipe’ files are reference files of good material I come across on the web) and then tons of sub-tags like *facebook, *etsy, *wordpress, *css, *quickbooks, *sales scripts, *swipe – sales emails, etc.
  • ^project {all tags start with ^} – these tags are specific to Snugbug Collective businesses (^PBC or ^SBM), some non-profit/board work (^SDDA) and client-specific material (^SGL).

You may also notice that there is an ‘:inventory’ tag type – again, this is specific to the fabric inventory that I keep in Evernote!

A few more tips…

  • If you have an iPad and like to take handwritten notes, try the Penultimate app. This is linked to your Evernote account and will be included in searches! As long as your handwriting isn’t crazy… you’ll be able to search your notes after the fact!
  • The browser clipper – I LOVE the Safari browser clipper! If I see a website I like for inspiration/design, an article that I want to keep or even a PDF download that pops up in the browser window I just hit the Evernote button, tag and file directly to the ‘filing cabinet’ notebook. The ‘punctuation-based’ system really comes in handy here, I don’t have to remember every single tag I’ve ever made, I just hit the punctuation mark and use the arrow keys to select the correct tags
  • Routine – I have a whole list of tasks that I do at the start of every week (my Sunday List) and filing all my unfiled notes is on that list…
  • Photo notes – Evernote has a great ‘scanner’ that works perfectly to file receipts. Just hit the photo button on your smart phone, lay the receipt on a table top and point the phone at the receipt. The receipt will get highlighted in green right at the edges. Great for tracking biz expenses!!

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