In a world that moves at the speed of light, are you willing to risk important information falling through the cracks? A few minutes at the end of the day is all it takes to review new information. A little automation, through Evernote’s filtered notes widget, makes it easy.

Do you find yourself in back-to-back meetings? Do you hang up the phone and it rings again immediately? We take notes as fast as we can. But how complete are those notes? How much good will they be later should you need them again?

While our days are busy, there comes a time somewhere when the dust settles. It’s a chance to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s.”

What it looked like with a paper planner

For years, my system of documentation was “I didn’t have one.” That changed thanks to Dr. Charles Hobbs in his classic book Time Power. Using the Day-Timer two-page-per-day layout, the right-hand page is where all notes taken during the day were to go. Later in the day, you knew exactly where to go to review all the notes you had taken. You could fill in the holes. You could think through the to-dos generated by those notes. You could then put those to-dos in the right place.

When I talk about tools changing but principles remaining eternal, you’ve just seen one example. This principle of reviewing your notes is alive and well in our digital age.

What it looked like with a hybrid model

When my organizational system went digital in 2001, the notetaking aspect remained paper-based. For years, I used a paper journal to trap the notes from phone calls, one-on-one meetings, and group meetings. Where one day left off, the next began.

At the end of the day, I reviewed the notes from the day, just as I had done with the paper planner. It was easy to find the notes. They were all in one place.

Our digital system presents a challenge

Today, I take notes digitally and use Evernote as the tool.

During the day, I’ll create notes. I’ll also make additions to other notes. For example, for those with whom I talk regularly, I have a note dedicated to that person. During our phone call or online meeting, what I have in front of me is their note. I can see the notes from our previous interactions.

At the end of the day, the notes I took are scattered across different notes. I would like one more chance to review them before the sun sets, just as I had done with the paper planner decades ago. How am I going to do that?

The “saved search” and “filtered notes widget”

The answer to the question often lies in structuring a good question. Mine is a two-part question:

  1. What notes have I created today?
  2. What notes have I changed today?

Answering the questions involves two easy searches:

  • In the Evernote search window, enter: created:day-0 Evernote returns all notes created today. Name it “Created Today.”
  • In the Evernote search window, enter: updated:day-0 Evernote returns all notes changed today. Name it “Updated Today.”

It’s that easy.

Saving the search

Sometimes, we have a search we want to run often. Rather than re-creating the search, Evernote allows you to save it.

But wait, there’s more…the “filtered notes widget”

Evernote users with a Personal, Professional, or Teams account can use the “filtered notes widget.” Professional and Teams users can create more than one. (That’s one reason I recommend an Evernote Professional account. As important as notetaking is, it’s well worth it.)

  1. Go to Evernote Home. (Click on Home in the sidebar.)
  2. Click the “Customize Button” in the upper right.
  3. On the list of available widgets, click on “Filtered Notes.”
  4. Drag it to an available space on Evernote Home.
  5. A box immediately appears. It asks you to choose filters.
  6. You will click the link “Apply Saved Search.”
  7. A list of all your saved searches appears. Choose “Updated Today” from the list.
  8. Click “Done” in the widget. (If you have Evernote Personal, you can only have one filtered notes widget. This one gives you both new and updated notes.)

If you have Evernote Professional or Evernote Teams, use the same process to create a filtered notes widget for “Created Today.”

You’re now on autopilot

The filtered notes widgets you created constantly update themselves. At the end of the day, there’s no search to run. Go to Evernote Home and scroll down until you see your filtered notes widgets. Click on one and you now see a list of every note which meets the criteria.

Now, you have a chance to revisit the note you took or updated. Why pressure yourself to have to “get it right” in the heat of the moment? Give yourself the gift of time. Review your notes at your leisure:

  • What do you need to clarify?
  • What do you need to add?
  • What superfluous stuff should you delete?
  • What are the “to-dos” you need to note?

Total and Control & Peace of Mind

If you want total control of your time and the peace of mind that nothing falls through the cracks, you need a system. If you’re willing to do a little work on the front end with the setup, the payoff happens every day thereafter.

In an information age, our information is only as good as our ability to put our hands on it when we need it.

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