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Productivity hacks weekly in bite-size chunks. Just up your alley if you're at least slightly geeky or a tad bit obsessed with Evernote or WorkFlowy!

Kanban Calendar: Evernote Series - 2 of 5

Frank Degenaar

This post is the second in a 5-part series, featuring Evernote as a Kanban Calendar option. We'll be looking at how to leverage the Reminders List in Evernote to give us a fully-fledged task-management system.

Preamble Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Evernote and Parallel Universes

"A parallel universe or alternative reality is a hypothetical self-contained separate reality coexisting with one's own." - Wikipedia

The concept of parallel universes and alternative realities is par for the course in Science Fiction. We tag along for the journey in novels such as Isaac Asimov's "The End of Eternity", in movies like "Donnie Darko" and "Run Lola Run"... as well as in TV series, including "Star Trek", "Fringe"... and "LOST", with its "flash sideways".

There are both similarities and differences in parallel universes.

  • In the Doctor Who episode, "Rise of the Cybermen", the UK was instead the People's Republic of Great Britain, complete with floating zeppelins.
  • In The Fringe, Walter Bishop was an eccentric and socially awkward scientist, while his counterpart, "Walternate", the self-assured U.S. Secretary of Defense.
  • In the Star Trek episode, "Mirror, Mirror", Mr. Spock's doppelgänger sported a game-changing goatee.


Often, a bridge between two universes allows for a crossing over... and Evernote's Reminders feature (that little blue or green alarm clock) is the bridge to our parallel universe - the Reminders list. We'll be looking at multiple ways of getting our tasks into that list with no fuss. The Reminders list becomes more than just an interesting mock-up of our notes that have embedded Reminders. The Reminders list is similar (yet different) to our lists of notebooks and notes. In this universe, the law of dragging and dropping is part of its very fabric - allowing us to sort our tasks and also transfer them between notebooks with ease - making for yet another great Kanban Calendar setup.

Take me to your... errr, Reminders list

You can access the Reminders list through a drop-down menu pinned to the top of your note list (middle panel) in the desktop client and by tapping on the alarm clock in the mobile device clients, in whatever context. In your Reminders list,  you can reorder notes within a notebook by dragging and dropping - and specifically on the desktop client, you can also drag and drop from one notebook to another - both in the Reminders list itself, as well as to any notebook whatsoever in the Stack and Notebook list in the leftmost panel, otherwise brilliantly named... The Left Panel.

When one creates a reminder, there is the option to add a date. For the purposes of Kanban Calendar, we'll not to need to set a date or receive any notifications. We're just going to set "simple" reminders initially, so that notes simply appear in the Reminders list, displayed under their respective notebooks. 

The soundtrack in the following video comes from the hauntingly beautiful theme song of the TV series, "Fringe"...

In the video (desktop client), you will see that I have set up the 3 Kanban Calendar sections in separate  stacks, each housing several notebooks:

  • Backlogged stack - Projects and categories.
  • Today stack -  Eisenhower Matrix, Doing, Done and Inbox.
  • Calendar stack  - At least a month's worth of dates.

Notice how you can drag and drop a task (reminder) anywhere you want, as well as create tasks from within the Reminders list.


Bridging the gap with reminders

We don't spend our lives in Evernote. We hang out in our email inboxes. We surf the web. We tinker with other apps. There are countless ways to get our stuff into Evernote from the outside. How about getting task-related material into our Reminders list - from the outside? In the next video, I show but a few ways of getting tasks into the Reminders list from external sources. 

Enjoy the accompanying theme song from LOST, "Life and Death".

At least 4 distinct ways to create Evernote reminders externally:

  1. Use the Evernote Web Clipper to clip screenshots, articles and emails (and add a reminder while you're at it).
  2. Send an email directly to Evernote, creating a reminder by including an "!" at the end of the subject line.
  3. Use a 3rd party Evernote app such as "SnapEntry" for iOS and include a reminder before sending.
  4. Tap on the alarm clock icon in "Today View" in the iOS Notification Center as a shortcut to directly creating a reminder in Evernote.


  • Above, I send all the reminders to my default Evernote inbox... but in each case, there is a way to send them to a notebook of your choice - so if you know the specific notebook you'd like to send them to, by all means, send them directly there from the get-go.
  • Here is the syntax for forwarding emails to your Evernote address (especially useful on mobile devices).
  • The tasks/ reminders you send to your default Evernote inbox will be distinguishable from the rest of your notes therein, since they are in the Reminders list. From there, to sort your tasks, it's a simple case of dragging and dropping to whatever notebook.

And a couple more pointers...

  • If you're going to set up your task management system anything similar to the one shown above, you will need to have about 50 notebooks (out of a max of 250 personal notebooks) available. If on the other hand you have a business account, you'll have a 5,000-notebook limit. On top of that, you still get to join 100 (Free) / 250 (Premium) shared or public notebooks.
  • While you cannot share stacks, conceivably, in a team ecosystem, you should be able to share/ join all of the notebooks contained therein. And once in your account, you can nestle them in re-created stacks, mirroring the originals.
  • You can use Evernote tags... or else tag your tasks with @ and # in the note (task) titles - that's if you're into GTD contexts. 
  • By the way - to see your reminders according to notebook categories, you're going to need to uncheck "Sort Reminders by Date" in the Reminders list sort menu.

Alphabetizing/ sorting

  • A lot of the head scratching and tinkering for this post was done in an attempt to get the stacks and notebooks into the right logical order, while still looking half decent. Suffice to say that there is a predetermined order in which all ASCII characters are displayed - so you have to try a mix of numbers, letters, characters and spacing. 
  • Here are the characters I used:
    • •     (Alt 7)
    • ♫    (Alt 14)
    • ►   (Alt 16)
    • >     (Alt 62)
    • @    (Alt 64)
    • |      (Alt 124)
    • ▄   (Alt 220) 
    • ■    (Alt 254 

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments below. If you're into Kanban and Evernote,  I hope I've given you a lot of food for thought. I still quite like my Kanbana setup for iOS, though.