Just the other day two things happened:
First, I spent about two hours organizing various items in Evernote. Some were consolidated from two (or five) separate notes into a single, more structured note. Some were moved into Google Docs, where they fit better into my workflow. Some are still sitting in a catch-all TextEdit document I use to capture random ideas and thoughts during the day.
Second, I read this post on the Evernote blog about using the software to take control of ADHD behaviors. Particularly relevant for me was this advice:
Approach Evernote based on the first problem you need to solve.
As I’ve said before, I have a tendency to scatter my thoughts a bit. I’ve got a bullet journal, but I also have items scribbled on a couple notepads. Blog post ideas are half-started in a document I quickly forget is there. There are fiction stories posted here but not elsewhere instead of all being in one place. Ideas are, quite literally, all over the place.
So spending a bit of time on consolidating all those was important and time well spent from any point of view. Things are now better organized (or at least in the process of being so) and I feel as if my mind is similarly more focused on what I want to get accomplished.
In other words, I realized the problem I needed to solve was that I was jotting things down but then never doing anything with them.
While Evernote (or whatever software or system you might use) is great at allowing me to capture ideas, it’s not so great at forcing me to revisit them. As I scrolled through the various notes I had there I saw items I’d saved two years ago that were no longer relevant. Or I had one note for five bullet points, when those points could be added to another note and made more contextually relevant.
Any system is only as good as the maintenance given to it. Evernote, ToDoIst, bullet journals…whatever you’re using, it requires care and attention. Mostly, it requires occasional pruning to make sure the material there is still relevant and useful. Get rid of what’s no longer needed and then make a plan to use what’s left. That’s the same process behind decluttering your house/life. If you look at an item and say “I haven’t used or thought about that in X period of time, it’s just taking up space,” toss it. Remove it from your sight and take its weight off your shoulders.
Make every item actionable.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.