Use Evernote + Followupthen to automate reminders for your GTD system
By: Richard Ramnac
Having adopted the GTD methodology recently as well as being a huge Evernote fan, I found myself with more time available and I was more in control of my everyday tasks. Recently, I have noticed a multitude of posts about Evernote and it’s benefits, however a request that I’ve noticed from people online is for reminder functionality to be build into Evernote. This is where the benefits of a fantastic service called FollowUpThen comes into play. In this post I will describe how to configure the FollowUpThen service to work with Evernote to create a simple and reliable notification system.
Lets say your Evernote GTD system has a tag structure such as this;
If you’re like me, you start working through your tasks with the .Now tag, and then move onto the tasks tagged with.Next and so on. If you are following the GTD process you should complete both a daily and a weekly review to ensure those tasks that are tagged with .Soon, .Later, .Someday, .Waiting are moved forward to the .Now and .Next tags. I find this at times a little clunky and somewhat time consuming. The solution to this problem for me is to use the FollowUpThen service.
Before getting started using FollowUpThen an important change is required to be made to your Evernote account. Copy down your private Evernote email address, then visit your Evernote personal settings and use your private Evernote email address as the primary email address. This can be done by logging into the Evernote web version and selecting Settings from the top right hand menu. With this change ensure you remember your password as changing the email to the Evernote email address will make it difficult to retrieve your Evernote password if it is forgotten.
To get started visit http://www.followupthen.com and enter your private Evernote email address into the Sign Up for Free field. Once this has been done you should receive a note into Evernote. Click on the confirmation link in Evernote to finish setting up your account which will include setting up your time zone. At this stage you should be viewing a page like this;
To complete the setup process and to avoid receiving unnecessary notifications in Evernote I take an extra optional step by clicking on the Setting menu in the top right hand corner and opt to turn off the Send Email Confirmation option.
Next, lets leave the FollowUpThen site for a moment and head back to Evernote and reschedule an action or task under the .Later tag. Lets say there that your manager has asked you to send through a report at the end of the month, but it is only the 5th of the month and you don’t want to forget. What is the best way to manage this?
Create a note with the Subject “Write Monthly Report – Due 31/09 #!Inbox”. Placing the #!Inbox at the end of the subject will ensure the note is tagged in the !Inbox, this could easily be changed to #.Now if you would prefer it be delivered into your action .Now tag. To receive a better idea of what it should looks like in Evernote see the image below.
Now here is where the magic happens! While I am using Evernote for Windows, I am confident that there is an equivalent way of following the same steps on a Mac. Click on the Write Monthly Report note. Click on the Share option and select Send by Email option. You will then be prompted to enter an email address. In the example of the Monthly Report being due on the 31st September I am going to setup a reminder note so that it is received as a note back into the “!Inbox” tag at 9am on the 30th of September. Enter the followupthen email address 9amSep30@followupthen.com so that it looks like this.
There is a large variety of email time formats for different date and time reminder options. Take a look at the followupthen site for further time and date formats. Once you have sent the email to the followupthen email address I go ahead and delete the original note as I know it will arrive in my !Inbox tag on the 30th September and will look something like this.
While it takes a little bit of work to setup everything at the beginning, it is quite a simple process to then reschedule notes in your .Soon, .Later and .Someday tags, to be looked at on particular dates and times as a reminder as well as keep your Evernote notebooks and tags clear of unnecessary clutter. This solution may not work for everyone but it works great for me.
Have you tried followupthen.com with Evernote? How about followup.cc? Do you have any additional suggestions on improving my workflow?
About Richard Ramnac
Customer Service Manager at an Australian ISP, regular blog poster at http://www.weekendnotes.com. I also have my own personal blog at http://tehniques.blogspot.com.au which outlines ways to utilize some of the old and new technology and applications to get more efficient.
Passionate about learning and implementing different ways to improve my ongoing productivity, both at work and personally so that I free up time to spent with those that matter most in my life.
Have always been a gadget and technology enthusiast with a personal view to ensure I understand and utilize all of the tools that I have available to me. This includes a number of productivity tools and methods I use on a daily basis.