The Zen of Results and Evernote

I tested Evernote with my time management system, The Zen of Results.  Evernote is like ITunes for knowledge.  Check out how easily The Zen of Results fit with Evernote:


It took me under 5 minutes from start to finish.  It was intuitive and friction free.  One of the keys to effective time management techniques is getting rid of friction, otherwise it's death by a 1000 paper cuts in the long run.  I expected some learning curve or some issues, so I was pleasantly surprised.  Maybe I'll be unpleasantly surprised later, but so far so good.

The quick test was a success:

  • I found it very easy to create folders and lists – just like I do on my hard-drive and in Outlook. 
  • I like the idea that it’s an online/offline system.  It's a S+S (software plus services) application.
  • You can tag stuff too. 
  • It’s nice and crisp.

Notebook Summary
Here's a summary of the notebooks I created in Evernote for The Zen of Results:

  • Vision / Mission / Values - my internal compass.
  • Outcomes - my overall big picture accomplishments.


  • To Dos - my daily outcomes – the value I bite off for the day.
  • Queue - my list for each project and my backlog of pending stuff.
  • Weekly Outcomes - my “Monday Vision” for the week’s planned results.  It sets the weekly forest from the monthly trees.


  • Notes - any random dumps from links to whatever.
  • Thoughts - my little “ah has” or ideas – it’s a thought catcher.
  • Sessions - my running dumps where I’ll dump my notes from stickies or notes from the day (I keep a notepad file open so I always have a place to dump my brain without wasting think time)

Checklists / Scripts

  • Checklists - my checklists 😉
  • Scripts - my step by step instructions – for anything from a routine to an “improvement script” that I cycle through to improve.

Improvement / Results

  • Results Log - my daily log of stuff I accomplished.  I only use it if I get in stuck mode or feel like I’m thrashing or churning or just don’t feel good about accomplishment.
  • Monthly results - my monthly snapshot of results – a simple bulleted list of things I did.  Perfect for reviews and for sending to management each month.
  • Lessons Learned - my distillations on projects or from other people – it’s whenever I do the exercise.

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Comments (4)

  1. Adam White says:

    It would be really useful for me to have some examples to go along with your time management system.

    Ever since I read the Zen of Results I have been trying to apply it to my various workloads. I have even duplicated your Evernote notebooks exactly. But now I am struggling to know what to put into each of them.

    If you could provide examples for each of the notebooks I could then get an idea of what each notebook was intended for!

  2. J.D. Meier says:

    @ Adam

    No problem.  Let’s start simple.

    Today, in your To Dos folder, create an item and title it 2009-01-06.  Think of 3 items you have to get done today before you can go home.  Write those down.  Do this M-F.

    In your Queues folder, create one item for each project you’re working on. I just name mine by project name, for example, App Arch.  Inside the list, dump any important outcomes or actions that pop in your head.  This frees up your brain and gives you one place to look for any pending actions you have.

    On Friday, in your Lessons Learned folder, create an item and title it 2009-01-09.  Write down 3 things you did well, and 3 things you want to improve.

    On Monday, in your weekly outcomes folder, create an item and title it 2009-01-12.   Write down 3 key things you want done by Friday.

    That’s your daily and weekly routine.  It’s simple but it works.

    During the day, if a cool wandering thought pops in your head, create an item in your Thoughts folder.  Some days might be bone dry, other days might be a waterfall.

    In your Notes folder, dump an item such as some ad-hoc research you did.  Have one place to dump this.  Think of it like a long, flat set of Wiki pages.

    That’s the heart right there.

    Does that help?

  3. Greg Kim says:

    It sounds like you have a mostly text system that is heavily based around contexts.  One alternate solution that is lightening fast is for taking notes line.  You can separate the different lists by tags and the site filters and retrieves extremely fast thanks to a near 100% AJAX solution.

    Ayenotes claim to fame is absurdly quick, barebones data entry.  Its key feature is that it provides clips for frequently used strings.  These can be templates you type, terms you use (action items, research, etc.), or it can be programmer-esque things like HTML and Markdown.  

    The site also autosaves the work and provides keystroke commands.  If you have the site remember your login, every time you go to to take notes online you are dropped right into the new note screen.  To get your data out, you can email or download the note in multimarkdown format.

    It’s really slick – I even use it to take meeting notes and find myself creating templates for all sorts.

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