Tags and Saved Searches in Evernote

I’ve written about using Evernote for tasks before, but didn’t really go into the details.

The Short Version

  1. Task comes in via email and gets forwarded to secret Evernote email address (with Reminder and tags in subject line)
  2. Task comes in via phone and gets manually entered into my default notebook
  3. From the default notebook, I verify the tags, add any additional information, add a two-column, one-row table, then move the note to my Tasks notebook.
  4. Use your saved searches and shortcuts to view exactly what you want when you want it.

Come up with a few tags

My day job consists of managing and publishing marketing content for over 600 digital signage players across the United States. Occasionally, I have tasks that fall outside of the digital signage realm, but my primary tag for tasks is digsig.

From there, I break it down a little further: install, content, support are my primary subtags. Those are the tags I use in conjunction with saved searches. I may utilize other tags in my task notes, but mostly for future organizing.

Acquisition

Tasks that come in via phone or in person are added manually. This is pretty self explanatory.

Tasks that come in via email are forwarded to my Evernote email address. You can find your private Evernote email address (on the Mac,) by opening Evernote, clicking the shield/name button at in the top bar, and selecting Account Info.

Your super-secret Evernote email address

Add the necessary information to the subject line: !YYYY/M/D adds a reminder, and #tag will add a tag to the note (the tag must already exist in Evernote for this to work.)

Processing

Tasks you enter manually can be created directly in your Tasks notebook if you wish. Tasks that are emailed in go to your default notebook.

When I process a task note in my default notebook, I double-check the tags, add any additional information as necessary, and create a two-column, one-row table at the top. This table will store any actions I take on a task.

Once I'm done processing, I move the note to my Tasks notebook.

Saved Searches and Shortcuts

You could perform a search every time you wanted to grab a list of tasks, but that takes too long. I’m all about efficiency, and so is Evernote. Create a search in the search field. For example, if I want to find all tasks that are either overdue, or due today, I’d enter:

notebook:.Tasks -reminderTime:day+1

I use the dot in front of my .Tasks folder so that it sorts at the top of my notebook list. Replace .Tasks in the search with whatever you’ve named your tasks notebook. The minus sign in front of reminderTime tells Evernote to ignore any notes whose Reminder date is after today.

Save the search by going to Edit > Find > Save Search.

Give it a name. Now, whenever you click in Evernote’s search box, you’ll see that saved search in a drop down list. While you’re viewing that drop down list, go ahead and click and drag one of those saved searches to the Shortcuts area in the left column of your Evernote client.

Saved searches

Saved searches in the shortcuts area

What about those tags you added? You can drill down even further to limit the tasks you’re viewing at any given point in time by adding the tags to your search. If I want to find just the digital signage installation tasks that are overdue or due today, I’d use the following search:

notebook:.Tasks tag:install -reminderTime:day+1

Maybe I want to view all digital signage content tasks no matter when they’re due:

notebook:.Tasks tag:content 

The sky’s the limit here, folks. Just be sure to save the search (and add it to your shortcuts if you want.)

While I work on a task, I add to the table at the top of the note. Date in the first column, actions taken in the second column. If the task takes multiple days to complete, I create a new table row for each day. When I’m finished, I mark the Reminder as done, and file the note appropriately. Either in a Tasks Archive notebook, or in a specific notebook based on the nature of the task. For example, completed digital signage install tasks go into an Install Report business notebook that is shared with our digital marketing group.

Other Uses for Saved Searches

Saved searches aren’t just great for tasks. I jot down blog ideas in a dedicated Evernote Notebook. When it’s time to write a post, I pick one of the ideas, write it out fully in Evernote, then copy/paste into a blog entry. Once it’s published, I add the tag published to the note. Over time, the blog notebook becomes full of a mixture of published posts and budding ideas, so to find just the ideas, I use the following saved search:

notebook:blog -tag:published

Are you using saved searches in Evernote? If so, what’s your favorite saved search?