GUIDE: Evernote for Organizing Lists and Journals

Evernote Logo

Are you making lists? Are you keeping a journal? If not, you could be missing out on two powerful disciplines required for optimal self-development.

Discovering who you are are and whats important to you is very difficult if you’re not writing things down. Keeping a journal and making lists is the first step of turning your dreams into reality.

I use a free note taking program called Evernote to keep all my lists and journal entries organized. It’s simple to set up, free, and compatible with nearly every type of phone, tablet, and computer around.

Follow this guide and I’ll show you how to create and organize to-do lists and journals. We’ll also talk a bit about goal setting and get you started in that department.

I know you’re just dying to start, so let’s get going.

1) Create an Account

First things first, we’ve got to create an Evernote account. Go to to get started.

2) Download Evernote

In my opinion, the desktop version of Evernote is easier to use than the online version. Download and install Evernote by clicking the Download Evernote for Mac link or continue to the next page and select the ‘Get Evernote for desktop’ button.

3) Launch Evernote

We’ve got the program downloaded, now let’s boot it up and take a look.

  1. Launch Evernote and sign in.

4) Menu Bar 

Let’s begin by exploring Evernote’s menu bar and familiarizing ourselves with it’s buttons.

  1. Forward and Back – Can be used to navigate through recent notes
  2. Username – Indicates currently active account, selecting gives the option to add another user, sign out, or change our account information
  3. Refresh Button – Evernote updates are automatic. To manually update, click this icon
  4. Satellite Button – This icon gives you notice if activity is occurring in shared notes or when you share individual notes
  5. New Note in… – This button creates a new note in the notebook you currently have open
  6. New Chat – This button allows you to start a chat with other Evernote users.
  7. Search Box – Search your notes for keywords

5) Create a Note 

In order to get a feel for using Evernote, we’re going to create a few notes during this walkthrough.

  1. Click the New Note button in the center of the screen. A new note will be created in the notebook you currently have open (more on notebooks in a bit).
  2. Name the note Using Evernote.

6) Notes Display

Notes are displayed in a dock just left of the open note. When you first start Evernote there will be a walkthrough guide here. Close out of it and you’ll be able to choose how to display your notes.

Play around with the display options until you find one you like. I like the snippet view myself.

7) Separate Windows

  1. Open your Using Evernote note in a separate window by double-clicking it’s snippet in the dock.

8) Exploring the Toolbar

The toolbar (located at the top of the note) can be used to adjust the text, format, and alignment of the note. Most of these buttons should be familiar to you, but Evernote a few unique ones. Let’s check them out.

  1. Fonts – Select the font style here
  2. Font Size Change the font size here
  3. Text Properties – Bold, italic, underline. More options found in the menu bar (Format > Style)
  4. Font Color – Adjust the font color here
  5. Highlighter – Highlight text
  6. List Options – Bullets, numbering, check list boxes
  7. Page Break – Creates horizontal line across page
  8. Page Alignment  – Align page left, center, right, or justify it
  9. Tables – Add tables to your note here
  10. Audio Note – Record an audio note to attach to your note here
  11. Add Image – Add an image to your note by clicking here
  12. Add Attachment – Add an attachment to your note

Above the toolbar is another row of buttons. I usually only use the first two, but we’ll look at them all since we’re here.

  1. Notebook Icon – Shows current notebook. Click here to change which notebook your current note gets stored in
  2. Tags – Shows tags added to the current note. Click to add tags, use commas to separate
  3. Reminders – This icon lets you set reminders, mark the notes reminder as done, or clear the current reminder
  4. Presentation Mode – Premium feature which turns your note into a full-screen presentation
  5. Annotate Note – Premium feature which allows you to save your note as a PDF and annotate it
  6. Information – Shows basic note information including creation date, note size, tags, and much more
  7. Trash – Sends note to trash (real fast) I just learned. Can be restored from ‘trash’ notebook in sidebar
  8. Share – Allows you to share the note in a variety of different ways

9) Creating Checklists

Now that we’re familiar with the toolbar and have a have a fresh note, let’s turn that note into a checklist.

  1. Click the ‘check list box’ to create a to-do list.
  2. Add the following to your note:
Download Evernote
Create a to-do list
Create a notebook for lists
Create a notebook for journaling
Create 3 lists

Create goals note

10)  Check Off Tasks

The best part about making lists is checking them off! Once you’ve completed a task, come back to this list and mark it off. Doing so provides reinforcement to your commitment of taking action. Keep this note open in a separate window for easy navigation between the two.

  1. Check off Download Evernote
  2. Check off Create first to-do list

11)  Sidebar 

Evernote’s sidebar allows for quick and easy navigation between your notebooks. Let’s familiarize ourselves with it’s options.

  • Work Chat – Shows recent chats
  • Shortcuts – Notes you’ve added to your shortcut list can be found here
  • Recent Notes – Shows the last 5 notes you had open
  • Notes – This brings up all your notes. You can change how they’re organized by clicking the little gear icon in upper right hand corner (this will only show once you have a few notes)
  • Notebooks – Clicking this takes you to a notebook organizer
  • Tags – Takes you to a library list of tags you’ve used
  • Atlas – Catalogue of locations where you’ve created notes
  • Market – Takes you to the Evernote store
  • Upgrade – Click here to upgrade to Evernote’s premium product

12) Change Sidebar View

For quicker navigation, I open my notebooks from the sidebar. Follow the steps below to open the display for this option.

  1. Click View in the menu bar
  2. Slide your cursor down and select Sidebar Options
  3. Select Show Notebooks List
A dropdown list will now display when you click on a notebook or notebook stack (more on these next)

13) Creating and Stacking Notebooks 

New notebooks can be created and “stacked” for better organization. A notebook stack is two or more notebooks added together. Let’s add a couple of notebooks and experiment with stacking.

  1. In the sidebar, click the Notebooks tab
  2. Click the New Notebook button in the top left hand corner
  3. Name your first notebook Lists
  4. Repeat and create a notebook called To-do Lists
  5. Repeat and create a notebook called Completed To-do Lists
  6. Repeat and create a notebook called  Journal
  7. You should now have 4 notebooks

  Notebook Stacks

  1. Click and hold on the Lists notebook, dragging and dropping it on top of the Completed To-do Lists notebook. They should combine and create a stack.
  2. Click and hold on the To-do Lists notebook, dragging and dropping it on top of the new stack.
  3. You should now have a stack that includes your Lists, To-do Lists, and Completed To-do Lists notebooks.
  4. Right click on this stack and select rename stack. Call it All Lists.

14) Creating Notes

Now that we have a place to store our lists, let’s create some new notes. Below we will create lists of movies, people we want to meet, and skills we want to learn. Writing things down in this fashion makes them more real. Instead of just having ideas float around in your head, give them life and bring them into the physical world by writing them down.

  1. Select the Create New Note button at the top of the screen. This note will be for movies you’d like to see, name it what you’d like.
  2. Create a list and add at least 3 movies you’d like to see (you can add more later).
  3. Next, click the tags search box and add Movies to the tag
  4. Now click the notebook icon in the top right corner of the note and save the note to your Lists notebook
  5. Repeat these steps for creating lists of people you’d like to meet and skills you want to learn. Try dragging and dropping the snippet of a note into a notebook. This is another way to add them.

15) Goals List

In order to jump start your journal, let’s create a simple goal you can complete sometime today or tomorrow.

Using the information you’ve learned about Evernote, create a new note for your goals and put it in whatever tab you deem appropriate.

On that list, I want you to write out 3 goals that you are currently working on. If you have no goals, you watch this workshop conducted by Jim Rohn. Do it in the next 48 hours. You can practice your list keeping by adding this task to your goals list.


Well, that’s it! You should now be able to navigate Evernote easily!

In the coming days and weeks, remember to have patience as you create your lists and journal entries. There is a learning curve you must go through with new programs, but once you’ve got all the kinks worked out I’m sure you’ll be saving loads of time with this one!

In the future I’ll be creating guides for using Evernote on your mobile device. If you have any specific questions about that or questions about THIS guide, please leave them in the comments section below!

Was this guide helpful? Let me know how I can improve my walkthroughs with your input below.


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