Leadership Resources: Stay Organized with Evernote


This blog series will appear on Tuesdays, and focuses on resources that I use as I pace my ability to continually strive for my greatest effectiveness. Leaders get things done. In order to accomplish this objective, it’s important to have the necessary skills and systems in place. I have tried many things over many years and have settled on what’s simple, reliable, and consistent.

Each resource will appear under one or more of my four leadership principles:
  1. Foundations: Clarity of purpose and outcomes, and equipping oneself for excellence;
  2. Relationships: Building and maintaining healthy and effective relationships;
  3. Systems: Tools and processes for leading and empowering transformation; and
  4. Balance: Managing multiple priorities and managing self

Each resource I blog about is one I have tested and used personally. I do not make money on these referrals unless specifically stated in the post.

Today’s resource is how I stay organized using Evernote.

Here’s a short video that gives you an idea of how Evernote functions:

I prefer using Evernote to DropBox, Google Docs, Basecamp, and other cloud systems because it’s just easier and it provides me a way to organize my work into notebooks. Evernote is in the cloud, so I have access to my files no matter where I am or what device I have in my hand at the time. I have Apps on my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Pro. It’s always up to date and I don’t have to look for an email and then download a file. Easy, saves me time.

I can categorize my notes by topic, project, or client. I have a paid professional account ($5/mo) that allows to share notebooks with others. Here’s how I share:

  • With Colleagues: I can share with my team, with collaborators, and with friends and family. It’s a way to make notes for things to pick up at the grocery so either my wife or I can remember what we need. When planning, I can collaborate with other consultants or team members by putting action lists, names and deadlines into a note.
  • With Clients: I set up a notebook with each new coaching client and load in the relevant templates for our work together. I have resource lists, leadership assessments, planning guides, and sample articles to support the particular work with that client.
  • With Groups: I facilitate meetings for teams – boards, staff, committees, etc. I use storyboards and photograph the notes into a notebook for that session. Instantly, each participant has the same notes. This frees up the participants to actually participate in the session and not get distracted taking notes.

Here’s how I organize my Evernote system:

  • Resources: I clip articles online and tag them for reading later. I use this to save information for research for my writing and blog posts. I use tags for topics like marketing, social media, leadership, team, etc., to help me find the information later when I need it. 
  • Clients: As previously mentioned, I set up shared files for clients. We have the note open during our calls and either of us can type into the note for the other to see. This is very handy in setting priorities, action items, and revising language. Evernote only allows one person to type at a time so there’s no conflict or lost data.
  • Blogs: I set up a blog topic note and define topics to write about later. I think of things at odd times so I can open the device I have in hand and capture the idea or concept so I can remember it later. This is especially helpful for the schedule I have for 2015 with four different topics to write about each week.
  • Chats: This is a new feature and I’m still settling into a routine. It’s helpful to send a chat to anyone in my shared notebooks as a comment, question, or reminder. It’s instant and private.
  • Archives: I move blog posts to an archives notebook once I’ve posted them on my site. If a client retires, or pauses, I move their notebook to a client archives notebook, as well. This way I can retrieve the information once the client becomes active again or they call to ask a question. I’m creating several books from my blog posts, so that’s a gold mine of data that I have created over time.
  • Recipes: I clip recipes into a folder shared with my wife. We like certain foods cooked a certain way, so this helps us to remember what we like and how we like it.
  • Keynotes: Scripts for various keynote presentations and workshops are helpful to refer to when flying to my destination. I have anchor presentations that I modify for each particular situation, so I can cut and paste to edit for the situation.
  • Articles: I have several files for articles that I write for miscellaneous publications. It’s helpful to have a note in each notebook of keywords for that track of writing. Many times, I can repurpose an article from one publication and modify it for another one.
  • News: I create Press Releases and news articles for my companies and for my service clubs. It’s helpful to gather information by topic to have when the writing is scheduled. Once a year, my Rotary applies for district awards and it’s helpful to have the information already loaded into the notebook.
  • To-Dos: Staying on track with tasks is a challenge for any leader. Since I typically work alone, I have created my own accountability system. I set up a planning notebook and define my short-term goals for the year. Under each goal, I create monthly milestones. Under each milestone, there are tasks (action plan) to reach that milestone. Those tasks are assigned to weeks of the month. To accomplish the tasks, I break those into Daily Valuable Deliverables (DVDs). I “time activate” each DVD on my calendar to define “when” it gets done. I refer to the notebook on the calendar entry, thereby creating a circular reference. At the end of each day, I review my plan and make adjustments. On Fridays, I review the week and plan for the upcoming week. This creates a system to stay on track and to get things done.

This is just a sample of ways that Evernote serves me as my digital brain. I’m sure that you can find other ways to stay at the top of your game with this resource.

Michael Hyatt is the master of using Evernote. He has written many blog posts about it. Here is the index for all of his posts on Evernote:


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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