Imagine for a moment that you are building a home. What would you use for the foundation? Would you take the time to design the layout of the house? Would you hire professionals to do the technical work? In this post we’re going to apply the concept, not to a physical house, but our organizational framework.
When I was in junior high school, I would visit a friend who lived next to a new home development site. We would explore the houses which at that point were just skeletons of what they would become. The houses were huge, and I remember trying to picture the complete structure as we climbed the different levels. I also thought it would be cool to have a skeleton house like this to climb around. But for all practical purposes, it would be useless. No shelter, no privacy, no storage, and no decoration. The strong structure provided a framework for what would one day fill it.
A Framework that Holds Weight
For our purposes, let’s think of Evernote as the foundation of our organizational house. Remember that you need to be able to trust the tool you use! It has to hold weight.
Our organizational system is like the frame of our house. Without the frame you can’t put up walls and hang nice pictures.
You will want to make sure you understand the basic building blocks of Evernote before you continue.
Here are four principles you should keep in mind as you design your organizational system:
- Keep it SIMPLE
The key to a good organizational framework is simplicity. Don’t think of organization as folders within folders within folders or bins inside boxes inside cabinets. If that is how you have to organize, it might mean you have too much stuff to organize. Simplicity reassures that you (and a spouse, child, or teammate) will be able to use the system. If you become intimidated by the system, guess what! You’ll give up and your inbox or dining table will become the default place for storage. The fewer decisions you have to make and questions you have to answer the better.
- Make it PURPOSEFUL
Recall the foundational structures of Evernote are the notes, folders, and tags. Folders are generally where I see people go wrong in their organizational framework. Instead of being purposeful, they let the content dictate the structure. I recommend using only enough folders as you need to share different notes with different people and groups. You don’t need a folder for every piece of information. I use (1) an Inbox – for storing incoming notes that I will need to organize, (2) a folder for personal, unshared notes, (3) a small stack of folders for work to share with different teams, (4) a folder for notes to share with my wife, and (5), a folder to share my business related notes. That’s it! Those are purposeful folders.
- Make it YOURS
You should only have a few folders, and I think anyone can use a similar, simple structure like I described above. However, an organizational framework must also be personal. We all lead very different lives. And this is where you can get creative, but still purposeful. Notebooks are for segregation, whereas tags are for grouping. A note can exist in one notebook, but it can have multiple tags. Perhaps the only experience you have with tags is from social media. Add a “#” sign in front of a string of words and voila – laughs, likes, and shares galore. The idea behind those tags is actually so people can easily find similar content. You know – like when you just want to know what everyone saying about #justinbieber? Evernote tags have the same purpose except you don’t need to use the “#” sign. Evernote tags are personal categories that help you find related content. The tags are yours to customize. Just don’t get overboard and #putahashtaginfrontofanysillyphraseandexpecittohelpwithorganization. No bonus points for creativity here.
- Keep on KEEPING ON
If you have a simple, purposeful, and personal organizational framework, using it should be a pleasant experience, or at least bearable. You do need to use it though. You have to give it some attention to make sure it doesn’t grow unruly.
Consistently follow the framework you have set up and you will end up with a well furnished and decorated organizational house.
Question: What’s the goofiest #hashtag that you’ve ever used? You can leave a comment by clicking here.