Do you feel overwhelmed with all of the data, things, people, pictures, etc. you receive each day? The solution to your challenge is in this podcast! In this episode, Jimmy interviews Stacey Harmon, entrepreneur, about her approach to helping people get control of their life again. By using tools that are available to everyone, you will quickly find relief within your grasp as Stacey introduces her method and strategies for using the book, Getting Things Done by David Allen and an app called Evernote.
- The five steps to reclaiming your life and how to maintain the process in a consistent manner.
- Why Stacey believes the process of organizing your life empowers you to achieve greater goals.
- How to gain perspective in life by working a system of organization that frees your mind to work on bigger goals.
- What it means for your mind to “flow like water”.
- The easiest method of controlling your activities with only 30 minutes a day!
JW: Good morning! Hey, this is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life By Design, your Monday morning moments of motivation helping you live life bigger, better, and bolder. I am excited for this new year. New Year’s, to me, is like opening up a fresh new world. It’s just like, “I’ve got 365 new opportunities before me, and I want to maximize those.” So one of my goals this year is to start off with a better perspective on how to organize my life. You know, we got in the middle of this pandemic last year, and the pandemic caused all kinds of disruption. Our listeners from all across this globe were sending emails like, “How do you stay so cheerful. I’m stuck at home. I’ve got nothing but my kids running around my feet all day. I feel like I’m bogged down.” Well, I’ve got great news for you today. It’s a new day, a new year, and today I have with me a guest that’s going to help you organize your life and become that person you’ve always wanted to be, and she’s even going to offer you a nice, free gift on her website when we’re done, but you’ve got to listen to the podcast. She’s going to offer up that free information a little bit later on. Before I bring my guest on today, I want to tell you a little bit of how I found her. I have been a big fan, as many of you know from listening to this podcast throughout the years, of Evernote. I call it my second brain. I tell you folks, I don’t take pictures with my camera on my phone. I take them in Evernote. I don’t take notes on the notes on my iPhone. I take them in Evernote. I don’t even have to write them. If I see something that just comes to mind that I wish to recall later, for whatever purpose, I can dictate that into a note in Evernote. Now, this isn’t about strictly Evernote today, but this is how I found our guest. I simply did a search on the web, and her name kept popping up. She has spoken with the important people that are leaders of Evernote. She is an Evernote consultant, but she does so much more than just work with Evernote. And then, she and I had something else in common. I’m a big fan of David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. He uses another word in there. I think he uses GSD, but I don’t use that kind of language. It’s Getting Things Done, and she is a fantastic, if you will, integrator from getting things done provisions to putting them in Evernote. Without further delay, I am excited to have with me today a wonderful, talented professional. And welcome today, Stacey Harmon. Welcome Stacey.
SH: Oh. Jimmy, thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here.
JW: Oh. You don’t know how thrilled I am. I’ve got Stacey now for four hours on this podcast just to learn all I want to learn today. No, hey. You just heard the introduction. I cannot tell you how excited I am to have you here today. You have done something that I have been working on for years, and you make it look so simple. I’ve just got to ask a few questions today to learn more about what makes Stacey Harmon tick, and how do you come up with such great, valuable ideas and tools on how to use one of my favorite software apps, and that’s Evernote. So, tell me a little bit about how did you get to where you are today?
SH: Oh my gosh. Big question. From the Evernote side of things, I grew up in suburban California, and I’ve been in California pretty much my whole life except for I now live in Austin. My parents were shocked when I announced I was leaving the state, because I’m a fifth generation Californian, but California is actually part of my story because Evernote is built in the Silicone Valley. It’s founded in the Silicone Valley. And so, access to Evernote and their user conference was a key part of what pivoted me into my career, this now career I’ve built, teaching people how to better and more deeply use Evernote. The access to their conference, at one point when I was using Evernote… I was just an average user, just like everybody else. I’m like, “This tool is phenomenal. I love it.” It really drastically changed how I worked, and I also could see how deep of a tool it was and how many people didn’t understand how you could really maximize this tool. At one point, I said, “You know what? I’ve got to get around other people that understand and are passionate about this tool as I am,” and it happened that Evernote was having a user conference, so I got on a plane and flew up to San Francisco. I was in Orange County area at the time. That kind of pivoted my life. You had that gut feeling that I just need to do this, and I was right. It really changed things. I started to make connections with employees and other power users, and it really just fueled this pivot that I ultimately took into focusing and developing an expertise with Evernote.
JW: You know, I kind of figured that you had to be from California. You have such a great personality. I have a daughter in California, and I’ve met so many wonderful people out there. She lives north of Sacramento, and they have just been phenomenal out there. But let me ask another few questions regarding your career. Tell me exactly what do you do to help people that are so disorganized like me, that have 15 things going on at a time, and then I wonder, “How do I get to step one even?” How can we help ourselves through your guidance?
SH: Well, I take a little bit of a unique perspective in a couple of ways. I teach what I do. I’m teaching people what I know works, because I do it every day, and I’ve done it for years. I have now a community of customers that have similar exceptional results as a result of doing that. I have this really well grounded belief that it works, so if you follow what I do, you can experience the same results. That’s number one. The other, that’s a little different from what other people do, is I have this opinion that in our contemporary world, the tool you choose dramatically impacts everything. It’s a big lens, and if you don’t understand the tool, you’re going to have trouble doing the organization. You can learn those organizational skills, et cetera, but you have to know the tool, and most people don’t take the time to take the deep dive into the tool. They conclude the tool doesn’t work, but it’s not what’s flawed. It’s just that you have to learn how to dive deeper with the tool in my opinion these days in order to really thrive with organization, with productivity, with personal management. It’s certainly possible to do it without those things. They are just the tools, but the methods aren’t the only part of success. The lens of the tool you choose intersects with those methodology, and if you don’t have both parts of the equation, you’re not going to have harmony.
JW: I love the way you explain that. You have hit the nail on the head for me. I am a process guy, so let’s explain what that means. With whatever tool you use, and I chose Evernote. That’s one you use as well, but there are many different tools out there, many great products out there to use. We’re not endorsing just one, but if you find one and you build your process around it, and use it, if you will, as your baseline for collection, retrieval, reporting, organization, it’s got to be something you build your process around. Start with us just a little bit about how did you get in the world of wanting to help people get organized? Did something happen in your childhood with your toy closet? Things fell all over you, and you said, “I’ve got to get something done.” What happened?
SH: A couple of things. Number one, I think that I am born with an innate ability to organize. I think it’s my superpower. I don’t know why I’m good at it. I think I was born that way. The reason I say that is that my mother wrote in my baby book at age two, I took great delight in putting the blocks back into the box in different configurations, so it wasn’t like playing with the blocks. It was putting them back in, and I always have found organizing comforting. I originally wanted to be an event planner.
SH: And I just ended up with a different job before I found a job in event planning, so I’ve always been attracted to the organizational space. I just think it’s an extension of what my natural interest and talent is. I do recognize that I’m a little off the charts in my ability to do that. That’s one part of it. The second part is this transition from… I was an employee for 18 years before I went out on an entrepreneurial journey, and that transition was very rocky for me. I really struggled. I wanted to do it, but I really had anxiety attacks, panic. I was struggling with getting clear about how to go forward. I was feeling the overwhelm that people feel, and I had a friend that has acted as a great mentor for me for a long time. He recognized my trouble, and one day said, “Stacey, stop what you’re doing. Go get this book, and go read it,” and it was David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
JW: David should ask you to write at least some kind of story about that, because that is fantastic.
SH: And I was already an Evernote user at that time, and as I’m reading the book, I’m like, “Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.” All these light bulbs are going off about how I can do what David says. David’s book the methodology, and he teaches you the parts of the system, but he doesn’t endorse a tool or tell you what to do to create your own trusted system, which for those that aren’t familiar, one of the core tenants is you need to create a trusted system outside your brain to manage all your stuff, because our mind is for having ideas and not for holding them. That’s a basic tenant, and you need to create this structure. I’m like, “Evernote could do that. Evernote could do that. Evernote could do that.” I read the book in one weekend, and I was so inspired. I went and said, “Evernote could do this,” and I mapped it out. My life started to pivot at that point, to the point where the system that I use is how you found me, because I turned that into a product, is how to organize Evernote to manage GTD. It’s what I do, and I’ve done it since 2012 now. All of those things are part of my story and are part of the reason that I ended up here today and how I teach.
JW: I love that story. See, we have so many similar items in our background, but one of the things I gained from that book was just what you were saying. Too many of us are looking for the easy fix. What we have to realize is each of us has an individual life with individual approaches and components to it. You have been able to take that individual approach and apply it to so many of your clients all over the country, all over the world, or wherever they may be. The key thing I want to ask you then is what do you see as similarities among all of these people you work with when it comes to the transition? What do you see is a similarity that they can take that first step and you see everybody doing this first step that makes the process maybe a little more effective or easier?
SH: For me, this is back to David’s methodology. When you believe and embrace the fact that you don’t have to trust your mind… A key pivot moment for me was, “You know what? I don’t actually have to trust my mind to remember anything.” That was very freeing, so I made a commitment to get it off my mind and into my trusted system, which is Evernote. The first thing is doing that, so actually capturing in one spot, which David has five steps of mastering art flow and capture” is” where you start. Getting things centralized in Evernote is a huge way to begin. Even before that, if you don’t want to capture all your parts and pieces, just doing a brain dump, like getting everything that’s off your mind into a single note in Evernote so that you know you can retrieve it at a later point is a great way to begin.
JW: One of the things too that people need to understand is I’ve said earlier at the introduction that I use this tool, and again this isn’t just about Evernote. They could be any tool, but I use this tool so often that I have photos I take, Stacey, that never come onto my camera roll. They’re in Evernote, and I attach a name to them or a title to them later in the day, and I go, “Vacation 2021,” and it might just be I just search everything about all the photos in there for vacation 2021 and bring up memories. How do you use it from a personal perspective as opposed to a professional perspective, or is there any kind of divergence there?
SH: This is one of the great things about Evernote, and I love your use case that you just talked about, because it highlights something that I think most people don’t understand. It’s a blind spot for a lot of people, which is that we have these inboxes all over, so if you consider an inbox a place where you are holding something that you want to take action on or retain later in life, the camera roll is a huge one. How many times are people taking pictures of stuff, but when do they ever go back to it and do anything with that data? Your workflow there is really, really effective, and that’s a key tip, which is start thinking about, “Where am I capturing information? Is it fragmented, and am I going back and reviewing that information?” That’s a really important tip, because once you observe that, you can start to make changes or choices about how you can do it different. To your point, Evernote as a tool offers you the ability to capture that information right into a central spot so that you can search for it later.
JW: One thing that I love about any type of capturing tool is, to me, it has to have the ability to be approached from no matter where I am. If I’m at the office, I’ve got to be able to get there. If I’m sitting on a train in New York looking at my phone and I want to get something, I want to get it. I want to be able to retrieve universally with efficiency whatever I’ve got on that system. That’s why, to me, you can’t just store stuff on your local server at your office, because you have to go through VPNs or portals, and sometimes that doesn’t work. Tell me a little bit more about your organization, Harmon Enterprises. Let’s talk a little bit about, really you said you started this up a few years ago. Give me a little background about where you are today from where you started, and tell us how rewarding that has been for you in terms of living the life you wish by design. That’s a shameless plug for our show, by the way.
SH: I love it. Let me start with early on, when I was an employee, I read Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad. That was the first time I really ever understood the different quadrants and the different ways I could make money, and that book had a great influence on me. And so, as I stepped into the world of self employment, I realized that I wasn’t creating. I went through all the phases. One of the early phases in my self business was working one-on-one with customers, and I did a lot of consulting, and I would consult with them on Evernote. I was a visible Evernote certified consultant, and I would do consulting. What I noticed, and again I attribute this to just my organizational brain, is I started to see that there were patterns in what people were asking, what they wanted to know about Evernote, and what they needed to know in order to achieve their organizational thing. Everybody comes at me with asking, “How do I organize my Evernote?” That’s what everybody wants to know, but there were underlying things they needed to understand about the software in order to do that. I started to see those patterns, and I did that for a couple of years, but then I realized, “There’s got to be a more scalable and, for me, more interesting way to deliver this information,” so I started to investigate online courses and delivering those things virtually, because I was doing Zoom consulting. I mean, I’ve always embraced these technology tools to enable distance working, and so I looked into taking what I know and converting it into courses. That’s what I did, and I started to then be able to scale the knowledge and allow people to learn through self-paced courses. I have a series of self-paced courses and guides, which you’re familiar with, that help people to go more deep with Evernote and use it to accomplish goals. Now that it’s evolving, I really think there’s an opportunity to work with a virtual classroom of people and help people, through more of a course experience, have access to me and go from a to z doing some work around that. That’s what I think I’ll be working on next.
JW: Oh. I love that idea, and the thing about it is what you set out to do is live your life by your own terms doing what you’re passionate about. So many people call me or send emails, I should say, and they’ll say, “You just make it sound like it’s so easy.” I’m going, “No. There’s no easy path,” but I do believe we’re all predisposed in a certain way that if we once find our passion, if you will, that empowerment zone where you really feel like you’re not working but you’re doing great things to help people, that’s what you’re doing now. I think that’s fantastic, so let me ask you another tough question. If you could have any other career besides what you’re doing now, what would Stacey Harmon be doing?
SH: It is a tough question, but my first career ambition as a child was to be a cake decorator, so I’m not sure. Maybe I’d go back to doing that. I’m not quite sure where that came from.
JW: We have a lot in common. My first career was a cake eater.
SH: Was it?
SH: Well, there you go. It’s a perfect pairing. I’ve always been attracted to big organizational projects, and I would love to have run the Rose Parade, like the top thing, and be the person that runs and organizes the whole Rose Parade. I grew up in Southern California. We’d go watch TV shows being taped. I was always fascinated by, I assume, it’s the director or whoever’s in charge of running the whole show. That kind of thing, I would probably be there, which it’s not surprise these are basically big scale organizational tasks, which is always very appealing to me. Where you’re in control. Where you’re in control.
JW: That’s what I was going to say, only if you’re at the top, and I will tell you. A Rose Bowl Parade, my favorite of all football parades they have every year, except for this year of course with COVID.
SH: I know. It’s crazy.
JW: Or last year. I’ve got to be honest with you. They’ve got to get that back, because that is one of the most beautiful parades with all the floats and everything, but I digress. What would you say, Stacey, for our listeners today, because you make it sound so fluid, so efficient, so easy. All they need to do is get in touch with you, and we’re going to put her free guide at the end of the show notes. You’re going to see that information, folks, but what so far has been perhaps the most fulfilling event in your life, Stacey?
SH: What has been the most fulfilling event in my life? Well, this is interesting. I would say it’s creating a successful self employed business.
SH: It has been a process. One of my guiding principles is that success is about incremental change, and I’m not an overnight success. I don’t feel like it’s ever been easy, but I keep plugging away. Really, what I do is I help people get digitally organized. Again, it’s an expression of what my passion is, this organization. Those things have been just small steps, and I’m proud of myself for continuing to step forward. You can pull David Allen into this too. I mean, he says you can’t do anything without understanding what your very next action is, right? There’re elements of all of this, and that’s led to me believing that I really do have a sustainable business that I have created out of a tool that didn’t exist more than 10 years ago or 12 years ago. I’m really proud of that, so that’s probably my biggest accomplishment.
JW: Well, I think you’ve done an outstanding job, so let me ask the real tough question now. Have you met David Allen?
SH: I have, yes. I went all the way to… well, a couple of things. Early on, I told you I went to the Evernote conference. That led to me becoming an Evernote ambassador, which was just really an influencer role as I was a passionate user. I wasn’t an employee, but they gave us stickers. I was the GTD ambassador, and that led to me actually having a webinar, a one-on-one webinar with David showing him how I used Evernote for GTD. They knew they had a lot of users in the Evernote space, and they were considering doing their own guide. I actually believe that my demo influenced that guide, because it’s a notebook spaced approach as opposed to a text-based approach. So, that’s one element, and then several years later, just in 2019, I went to his GTD summit. I went all the way to Amsterdam just to meet him, get my photo, and get my book signed.
JW: That is awesome. I’ve not met him. Is he really a nice of guy as he seems?
SH: He absolutely is. He’s very chill, which comes across in his stuff. It’s not surprising, because really his book isn’t about being more productive. His book is about creating space to reflect and pursue what it is that is really most fulfilling to you as a human. It’s a spiritual book. That’s probably a controversial statement, but that’s kind of the tact that I take on it. It’s about creating the space, and he has this concept in it, which you know it’s called “Mind Like Water.” I know it works, because I’ve been doing GTD now, and I was able to pivot, evolve, and react to 2020 as a result of this GTD structure that I have in place that lets you ebb and flow and react appropriately and proportionately to what life throws at you. He embodies that.
JW: You’re exactly right. That’s one of the things that I love about the integration of that system, but I also love the ability to get access to anything on my phone, my iPad, my laptop, or my desktop. Going through using that tool, he at one time, and I’ve read his book probably now, don’t laugh Stacey, four or five times. I got his second book and took it to heart. I’m like you though. I think at the end of the day, it’s just got to work for you and not work on you. You see the difference I’m saying?
SH: Yes. For sure. This is the reason I think Evernote is such a powerful tool for GTD, is because at its core Evernote is a flexible tool. You can bend it, and adopt it, and adapt it to whatever it is your particular situation is, and there’s lots of different ways to approach organization in Evernote. That’s one of the things, like David’s the methodology. That methodology can be applied to anything you want, and then you take a flexible tool, like Evernote, and pair it with that methodology, and you can organize anything.
JW: I think you’re absolutely right. I actually agree with you 100% on the fact that if I didn’t have the ability to get my mind freed up by dumping, if you allow me to use that term, everything I had on my mind. I get into Evernote or whatever program you’re going to use, and get it out of your space. It allowed me to creatively think. This is so crazy to say, but we had the best year in our company ever during a pandemic and most of our team working remotely. Literally ever. The only thing I can tell you is that we were so focused, because we didn’t have our mind filled up with all of these other things that go around in our head that do nothing to help us move forward. Now, let’s talk about something you mentioned. I am the next action king in my area. I’ve got to tell you. Anytime I do something, Stacey, I go, “What’s the next action?” Where we get stuck in life, and you correct me now and help me understand this for our listeners, too many people get stuck because they’re thinking about, “What are the next 13 steps?” I’m going, “No. I just need to know the next one.” Tell me a little bit about how that works in organizing our lives, moving forward, and making progress.
SH: I feel like it’s a couple of things. The first is it takes a lot of mental energy to think about all of those 13 steps, so the first thing is do what David says and get it off your brain and into your trusted system. Back to our brain dump discussion that we had earlier on, this mind sweep. Get it off of your mind, and know that it’s in a place where you can retrieve it. From there, you can take a look and say, “Okay. What really is the very next actionable, physical thing I can do to move forward?” You can only do one thing at a time. We all know this. Science shows it. I can’t multi task. All of that. There’s no debate here anymore. The issue is you’re so bogged down, either trying to remember in sequence all those 13 things, that if you just off load that, then you can at least look at a roster of things, and narrow down onto what your priority is and what would really move things forward. Then, identify what that is and convert your language around those things into something that’s actionable, and then you can just take that step. If you repetitively do that, sometimes it happens the very first time, but eventually you reach a tipping point, and the flood gates open and the project soars forward. It just happens without fail.
JW: It’s amazing how you explain that. It just happens without fail. What the point is that we have to get our system in place. If we work that system of thinking and our philosophy of, “I just need one more step. I need one more step. I need one more step…” Thomas Edison was the king of this in my opinion. Every time he tried to invent something, if it was successful or not, he would say, “What’s the next step? What could I do differently? What could be the next change of this?” I think that’s exactly what you’re saying, but now let’s boil down a little bit to find out about the real Stacey Harmon. Here’s the hard question. Here it goes Stacey. What is your daily routine to maximize your efficient use of time? You don’t have a big team behind you, but you’ve got a lot of people that rely on you. You have to create content. You have to write content. You have to utilize training time. Tell us how do you efficiently maximize the time in your day.
SH: I’m committed to David’s principles, so I practice them habitually, number one. I’ve honed that over time, and it becomes easier over time. That’s number one. Number two, I’m aware of when I’m best, and that is the morning. I’m a morning person, and I like to get at it right away. My commute is I work out of my home. My commute is 10 feet.
JW: There’s no parking problems then if you have that in downtown Austin.
SH: No parking problems. I wake up, and I grab a cup of coffee. Often, I am working within half an hour of waking up. Sometimes five minutes and sometimes half an hour, but I will take time for myself in the morning. I go through phases where I’ll journal or I’ll mediate, and have some of those morning elements, but I love to work. I love what I do, and it’s very exciting for me to get on my computer, so let’s just talk about what I do when I’m there. I do have a couple of things I always do. I always process. David has five steps of mastering work flow. Capture is the first one. We talked about that, but clarify and organize are step two and three. This is where I find habitually people fall off the bandwagon. Everybody intellectually gets it, but they don’t actually practice it. Every single day, I process for some period of time, and it’s typically the first thing I do in the morning. I advise doing one Pomodoro, which is a time blocking technique, starting with a 25 minute processing commitment every single day. Do you know Marie Kondo?
JW: I do. I do.
SH: Yes. I have this theory that it’s like the Marie Kondo of digital organization. Her idea is touch your physical items and decide to keep it if it brings you joy. Does it spark joy? It’s not quite as sexy as that in a digital world, but if you’re capturing everything, and then you’re reviewing it in terms of what is it and going through David’s workflow map, which he lays out in the book… If you do that on a regular basis, you have this innate understanding. You’re touching it and understanding if it’s important to you. You’re putting it in your subconscious. You’re understanding this landscape of what’s on your plate, which impacts other things that David talks about. Do you say, “No?” You start to say, “No,” because the truth is your stress is coming from these broken commitments you made either to yourself or to others. That’s because we overestimate what we can do. We’re very optimistic as humans. It’s like, “Okay. I’m going to get that done. It’s only going to take me half an hour.” Well, that might have taken you two hours. Suddenly, that has impacts for everything. Boiling it back, the habit I have in the morning is I’m processing and reviewing what’s new inputs every single day for at least a half hour. I have found this practice changes everything for me. It’s very much in alignment with what David says, and it’s so much so that I built it into the community aspect of my EverDone program. The people that do GTD and embrace GTD actually need to develop that habit and experience the reward that daily processing brings.
JW: Oh. Absolutely agree. 100%. Now, are you an early riser of the day?
SH: I am.
JW: When do you typically arise?
SH: Really early. I can be up at 5 or 5:30. See, this is the nice thing about working for yourself too. If I can’t sleep, I’ll work, because then I grant myself the idea that, “Well, you can take a nap anytime you want, too.” If I’m awake, I don’t fault myself for not being able to sleep at three in the morning. When you take off that judgment, I could get up and say, “Okay. Well, work for two hours, and then take a nap at 10:00 AM.” There’s not rule against that when you’re…
JW: No. I agree. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur though, Stacey. You get to control what you want to control, and that’s what I’ve told people during 2020. During all this disruption, I go, “Look. Control what you can control,” and the big part of that for you is my mindset toward my career. In other words, I work when I wish to work, and I work within my flow or my natural rhythm. I’m an early riser myself. I like to get things done. I tell people, “I get things done between 5:30 and about 10:00 during the day. Then, the rest of the day is smooth.” You get those things done in that early morning time for yourself. Let’s talk just a little bit about an area that you address in your EverDone. I’ve heard you say this as well on a couple of the Evernote podcasts. Let’s talk about the debate between how to best utilize things in Evernote. Would it be the tagging system, or would it just be the utilization of their very powerful key word search system? I actually fall more toward the key word search thing, because it got a little voluminous on me on the tags. I got too many of them, and then I’ve got to figure out, “Okay. I’ve got to change my system.” Give me a little bit of background. How can we help our listeners?
SH: Sure. It’s a classic debate in Evernote. I believe everybody needs to make a foundational decision when they start their Evernote usage. “How am I going to organize Evernote? Is it going to be with notebooks, or is it going to be with tags?” You need to make that choice, and you should go down one of those two paths. Now, there’s really not a right or wrong, except that I have a very strong opinion about the notebook spaced camp, and that is based in my GTD orientation. I’m not telling you not to organize with tags, but I’m telling you that I believe it’s more efficient to organize with notebooks. That is because of Evernote’s search capability, and actually I can provide you a very detailed blog post that I have on this that discusses the details of this argument, so your listeners can research it themselves. You have to decide notebooks versus tags. Now, it boils down to this. I have a lot of reasons why notebooks are more efficient than tags. It’s a more efficient way to organize in Evernote, and I’m looking to minimize the amount of time that I’m spending doing my stuff so that I have more time to do what I want to do, right?
JW: Yeah. Absolutely.
SH: That’s the crux of it. To your point, you have to understand that Evernote’s search is exceptionally powerful and that they index everything that you put into Evernote. And so, every word, and at the premium level everything that’s in documents that you put into Evernote is being searched and indexed. Sorry. Being indexed, so that means you can actually search for that. You don’t have to add a tag, it’s redundant. It’s redundant to add a tag, because if you’re going to think to look for that word, you can just search and Evernote will surface it. They’re doubling down on search with the new Evernote as well, so we’re going to see just even more and more improvements in this over time. Tagging becomes redundant and becomes, as you… What was the word you used? Voluminous?
JW: Well, yeah. I had at one point, don’t laugh folks, over 250 tag words. You just can’t make that function, I realized. I stepped back one day, and I said, “You know, this isn’t working like I intended,” because it just kept needing another word, another word, another word.
SH: It balloons out of control. Yeah.
JW: It does. I just went back, and I won’t call him a friend, but I’ve read his books and so forth. Michael Hyatt. I listed to his podcast from time to time. Great guy. He and his daughter have a great podcast called Lead to Win. You’ve heard me talk about it on the podcast here, but what I would suggest to you is… He started out the same way, and then he came back and said, “No. I think the search function is the better way to go.”
SH: Well, it’s so funny.
JW: “The notebooks is a better way to go.”
SH: One of the things I did that brought me a lot of visibility early on is I wrote a blog post called Why Michael Hyatt is Wrong About Organizing Evernote With Tags.
JW: I loved that. I read that. Very good.
SH: And it’s a little tongue-in-cheek, because I started this saying it’s not necessarily wrong, but Michael was so gracious. He retweeted it and said, “So, Stacey disagrees with how I organize my notebook, or how I organize my Evernote account. She has some great points.” I talk about the reasons why, and I think he has evolved his usage of it. The other thing is Ian Small, the CEO of Evernote, recently has said in public communications that only two percent of Evernote users are tag centric organizers, which I found fascinating because if you Google, it’s people like Michael Hyatt actually, I believe, and their visibility that has perpetuated this idea that’s the only way to organize in Evernote, and it really isn’t. Search is a brilliant way to go, and notebooks support a search based approach a little bit better.
JW: Let me ask a favor, and you don’t have to tell me, but I like to bring the real truth out to our listeners. We’re heard right now in 30 countries, Stacey, across the globe. It’s been that wonderful. We’ve been blessed in this process. What is the craziest name of one of your notebooks, that no one else would probably think of, that you use in Evernote?
SH: That’s a great question. I’ve never been asked that question before, and I apologize for having no exciting answer, because one of the things that I do is I am about naming conventions. I talk about this extensively, and I have another free blog post that I can share with you that talks about the importance of that. I do what I teach, and I use naming conventions. There’s naming conventions applied to all of my notebooks, which takes out that crazy factor, really.
JW: I’ve got to tell you one of my notebooks…
SH: Tell me yours, yeah.
JW: Yeah. You don’t have to laugh here, because this is what I call it. I call it… It’s my crap book. It’s just all this crap comes into that I don’t know where I want to go with it yet, and I use it instead of an inbox. I just call it my crap book.
JW: And that sounds terrible word. Terrible. I need to change that word, but what my point is it starts with something, and I go, “Okay. That’s just everything that falls in there.” Then, I sort it out and put it in appropriate notebooks later by research and searching it. So, let me ask you another couple of questions before we let you go today. You’ve been so kind to bear with me. I know you’ve got a lot to do, but our listeners are the type of people that go, “What is the first step?” If they were new today to an organizing tool like Evernote or whatever they want to use, and they haven’t read of GTD and they haven’t been to your website, what is that first step you’d recommend that would be the easiest first step, and then next step for them to get started?
SH: Sure. So, the challenge with Evernote is it’s so flexible, so people open it up and it’s this blank slate, and they don’t know exactly what to do. The first step is decide if you’re going to use notebooks or tags, and I advocate starting with notebooks. You can always change it. It’s very easy to do, but start with notebooks. Take that pressure off of your mind. Create a notebook for each group, naturally grouping, you want to organize. That’s number one. The other is start learning the tool, because Evernote is an exceptionally powerful tool. Everybody has different “A-Ha!” moments that really get them hooked on Evernote. I have consolidated the top six that I have seen in a free guide that I have available on my site. It’s called my A-Ha! Guide, and you can grab that. It’s very detailed. It gives you step-by-step directions for how to execute on those six steps, and teaches you something about Evernote so that you can really be using it to its full advantage. Whichever of those resonates with you, it will be different case-by-case, because we talked about how everybody has different needs. I would start with that guide, because getting some education about the nuances of the tool you choose, which I advocate Evernote to be your tool, that really is going to change everything you do in Evernote. Then, for those who are interested in GTD, I have a free GTD book club where I have recorded myself discussing the concepts of each chapter, and I talk about how Evernote is a brilliant tool to execute what David’s talking about in there. It’s a self paced book club that you can sign up for totally free. That’s available on my website as well, so you have the opportunity to learn about Evernote the tool, and then GTD the philosophy, and also how they pair together.
JW: I have listened to that book club freebie as well. It is outstanding, by the way, and she’s got some other training that I highly recommend. Her website will be in the show notes along with some other information that will help you contact Stacey if you have a need to get organized in life, as I know you probably do if you’re like most of us. So, what does the next phase of the career for Stacey Harmon look like?
SH: I think I alluded to it earlier. I see myself continuing to evolve my training. Evernote is evolving really quickly now. It’s going to be a very exciting year for Evernote. Even just yesterday, they released a major new feature called Evernote Home. What that offers users, it’s going to keep me having new opportunities to continue to educate my audience and my customers. So, continuing with the Evernote training, and then I’m really investigating ways that I can help groups of people go through processes and experience tangible results with Evernote moving forward.
JW: That is just awesome stuff. I’ve got to tell you, you have been awesome today, Stacey, to take your valuable time to come join us for our listener’s benefit. I would like to do something for you. Is that okay?
SH: Sure. Thank you.
JW: I would like to say, if all of our listeners would, look at the show notes for today’s episode. You’re going to see in there a couple of free things that she’s providing you, but also you’re going to see a place on her website that you can go for a 30 days free membership for her book club. If you want to get on there and look at that, she’s going to give you some training. It’s very inexpensive, or as I say, it’s well worth the investment. That’s the way I look at that. I’m going to be joining that myself after today’s show, so you’ve got at least one more person coming on for sure to help join in your community. One thing I’d like to know is this. If you can pair where you are today in your knowledge base of organizational skills, and you look back three years ago, five years ago, or whatever, would you say that Stacey Harmon has evolved to a point that you continue to gain more perspective on how to help others? Where do you see yourself in that continuum?
SH: Absolutely. Entrepreneurship is a personal growth opportunity. There’s no better one, is my take on it. These tools that we’ve discussed here are what unlocked that evolution for me. It’s GTD. It’s the freedom and flexibility that Evernote has provided me, and I’m growing as a person. My understanding goes deeper every time. You said it yourself. You’ve read GTD four or five times. You get a deeper understanding each and every time. I experience the same thing, and it motivates me to continue to help people no matter what phase of their GTD or Evernote journey they’re on. I hope that never stops.
JW: Oh. I agree. That’s the thing I love about entrepreneurism is you are always looking at the next opportunity to learn, to influence, to help lead someone to do a better life for themselves, for example. You have brought a lot of information to us today. I appreciate your time today, and I thank you for being on our show today.
SH: Oh. My pleasure, Jimmy. It’s always fun to talk to an Evernote enthusiast, as well as a GTD enthusiast. This has been a great joy.
JW: So you’re not saying just because I’m a geek and I enjoy this stuff, you enjoyed the show? You’re saying because I’m an enthusiast. That’s the term I’m going to use. That’s funny. Our challenge this week for all of our great listeners is this. You’ve heard all of this great advice that Stacey has offered to us. She’s got free tools, supplies, information, and whatever you need to make these changes in your life. Who couldn’t be better and feel better about life if they were more organized? One of the best ways to do that is take advantage of Stacey’s kindness today. Go to her website. You’ll see it in the show notes. We’ll have it prominently displayed there, as well as a couple of the blogs that we’re going to attach as well to help you make good decisions on organizing your future. Your challenge this week, go to her website. Seek out these blogs off the show notes, and then find out how Stacey Harmon of Harmon Enterprises could help you become the more organized individual that’s within you. The next thing is go out, make the world a better place, and live your life by design.