How to Use Email and Reminders to Power Productivity

Tips & Stories

How to Use Email and Reminders to Power Productivity

Posted by Mike Vardy on 15 Feb 2015

Posted by Mike Vardy on 15 Feb 2015

Evernote provides many different tools to power your productivity and fuel the success for all your projects.

Mike Vardy is a writer, speaker, productivity strategist, and recently wrote about how he uses Evernote features like notebook organization, email, and reminders to help him tackle his monthly writing and an upcoming book project.

This post is an excerpt from a post published by Mike Vardy on the Productivityist blog about how he uses Evernote to power his productivity. Here’s the steps Mike uses to organize notebooks into common threads, review monthly themes with reminders, and trigger specific emails to be sent to his Evernote account. 

I’ve long used Evernote for my resource and reference materials. all of my research is stored there, along with notebooks that contain living documents that I want to share with those who are helping build Productivityist and my virtual assistant. Pretty much everything that is any source of reference material is kept there, and even ideas for blog posts and other content spend some time in Evernote before making their way to Scrivener for bigger projects or Desk.pm for blog posts.

Todoist has been my task app for nearly a year, although it seems much longer. The majority of my tasks live in Todoist, with the exception of those being the ones in Asana (which I use for some of the projects I’m working on with others, including the Do Better With Asana project I’m part of with Jeremy Roberts of Cloud Productivity). All of my personal, professional, and Productivityist tasks otherwise live in Todoist.

So how do I use Todoist and Evernote together to create a workflow that is as frictionless as possible? While there are some automation tools you can use to link them up – IFTTT and Zapier immediately come to mind – I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to build automation before developing the best approach to the apps I’m using.

My way of getting Todoist and Evernote together isn’t all that difficult to assemble. It just involves working with the two apps with similar triggers and identifiers, as well as developing a routine that I get to know and follow every day.

Here’s how Evernote comes into the formula:

1. Build common threads

I break down Evernote in the following way in order to create an easy shift from my task app to my reference app:

  1. Notebook stacks are categorized by Areas of Responsibility.
  2. Notebooks found in those stacks are projects of varying sizes.
  3. Notes are…well, notes.
  4. Tags are the equivalent of contexts to me (or modes).

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 1.12.03 PM

Now when I switch back and forth I spend less time getting used to the change of environment and more time making progress. (Note that I do keep Productivityist Coaching as a notebook stack because it contains notebooks that are local notebooks and not synced, for privacy reasons.)

Let me give you an example.

I’m currently working on my next book. I have a project called “My Next Book” in Todoist that lives under the top tier Area of Responsibility called “Professional.” When I look at the same project in Evernote, I’ll find “My Next Book” as a notebook inside the notebook stack called “Professional.” The difference is that tasks related to the project live in Todoist, while reference notes related to the project live in Evernote. I can also copy the URLs from either a Todoist task and put it into an Evernote note related to said task or copy the URL from the note from Evernote and place into a Todoist task if I want.

I may do the former when I want to work on finalizing some research in Evernote so I can simply click on the Todoist task and mark it as complete without having to look for it in Todoist. I may do the latter when I’m in Todoist and want to access a related note found in a task quickly rather than wade through my Evernote notebook. The URLs simply speed up the process enough to keep me moving along at a faster clip.

Label and tags are treated a bit differently, however. In Todoist I limit the amount of labels I use so that I can easily remember them and attach them to tasks. I’ve written about labels before and I strongly believe that “less is more” when it comes to labels in Todoist as long as they are clearly defined and refined as needed. In Evernote, I’m not as strict with that rule. After all, tags are effective search terms and I have far more notes to search in Evernote than I have tasks in Todoist. Why? Because notes don’t get completed – tasks do. So while I don’t go crazy with tags in Evernote, I do try to be mindful of them.

2. Utilize reminders

I use Evernote reminders to bring items related to my monthly themes back to the forefront at the start of each month. For example, I received an Evernote reminder on the first of this month to start working on my next book. It wasn’t a task so much as it was a note that displayed some content I’d written that was meant to jumpstart the book writing process.

Other things I have started doing is copy the link of a Todoist task into Evernote related to starting of a certain big task or project.

An Evernote reminder would serve to remind me that I wanted to start working on that task on a specific date. I simply click on the link in the Evernote note (which would also contain pertinent information related to that task) and it takes me to the task.

Evernote - Reminder Start

At that time I’ll assign a due date (usually a repeating date until I finish it) and I’m good to go. It’s not the most automated of solutions, but I know it works every time and it appears to be unbreakable (which is exactly what I need in order to trust it).

3. Automate your  email 

While both of my email clients allow for me to send tasks directly to Todoist and reference items to Evernote (I use Airmail on my Mac and Dispatch on iOS), the most reliable way to process email for me is to simply use the email addresses associated with Evernote’s default notebook per project.

Tip: Learn how to find your email address and send your content from email to Evernote.

In order to best align Evernote with Todoist, I renamed my default notebook “*Inbox” so that I am triggered to process it regularly. On some occasions, emails end up going to both Todoist and Evernote if they contain both a task and reference item. I’ll also make a habit of bcc’ing these apps when replying to people so that I can get tasks and/or reference items into the right apps and respond all in one fell swoop.

To see how Mike fully sets up Todoist into his productivity workflow, read his entire blog post.

How are you using Evernote to manage emails, reminders, and to-dos? Share your story in the comments. 

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