I’ve been an Evernote user and big fan of the application for sometime now but one thing I’ve struggled with in the application has been the disconnect between my notes and the various ToDo’s associated with them. (By the way If you really want to get the most out of Evernote check out Brett Kelly’s “Evernote Essentials” ebook, version 4.0 was just released on 9/26.)
While Evernote has the ability to insert a checkbox (instructions at the bottom of this post) into your notes to flag something as a “ToDo” item, it still fell a little short of this essential functionality since I now had to go through my notes to find the ToDo’s. Part of the problem was me, since I was used to a traditional ToDo lists (outside of Evernote) which were all consolidated and orderly. Yet there was a problem with those consolidated lists too… a lack of context around that ToDo item.
Of course some ToDo’s are easy to figure out and don’t need context (“Pick Up Dry Cleaning” for example), but with others, particularly those more business oriented, or associated with on-going projects, it helps to have other information to refer to.
Back to Evernote…
So I set out for searching for a way to create a dynamic, consolidated list of the items in Evernote that I mark as “ToDo” (by adding the little checkbox) in Evernote, without the need for yet another 3rd party application. While I assumed there must be a way to do accomplish this in Evernote, I was wrong. However, there is something better, and if you can challenge yourself to think a little differently, and appreciate having your ToDo’s in context this might work for you too.
As it turns out there is an array of Evernote search parameters that you can use from within the Evernote application and on the web interface. One of those parameters is:
todo:[true|false|*] - If the argument is “false”, this will match notes that have ToDo checkboxes that are not currently checked. If the argument is “*”, this will match notes that have a ToDo checkbox of any type. If the argument is “true” then it will match notes with ToDo checkboxes that are currently checked.
So, in your search bar simply type “todo:false” and you’ll get back all of the notes which have unchecked ToDo items.
Why This Is Better Than A ToDo “List”
While it challenges us to think about the ToDo list a little differently, I’d argue it’s better because it puts our ToDo’s in context (surrounded by the notes on that subject). And by combining the todo: search parameter with other search parameters, for example tag:tagname we can easily refine our searches and see only what we want to currently focus on, again, kept in context.
In case you are not sure how to add the ToDo box in Evernote here is a quick tutorial:
on Windows try Control+Shift+C.
Extra: If you really want to get awesome at Evernote check out the “Evernote Essentials” ebook, version 4.0 was just released on 9/26.