Everbook

Have you heard of Everbook? It’s an organization method that Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller is perfecting. I thought I’d try to type out a few models, both to explain to you how it works, and to help him show others how accessible and flexible the system is. 🙂 (Here are two introductory videos, one from Bryan Wolfmueller and another from Jonathan Fisk. As for me, I’ll stick with written words.) 

By way of introduction, a select few of you may think of it in terms of a physical version of OneNote. (OneNote is the note-taking-and-sharing application that’s part of Microsoft Office. You can take notes by hand, as audio, or by clipping items from formats to create a searchable, indexed file.) Bryan has described it as a way to centralize “customizable analog productivity tools.” 🙂

There are hundreds of planners you can look through to give you ideas (such as this or that), but what is really great about this system, the Everbook, is that it is infinite in essence.

(It might help if you’ve read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, though it’s certainly not a requirement. That’s my own background walking into this.)

Basic Everbook Set Up

First, you need a cover. Lutheran leatherworker Murdy Creative is even putting together its own exclusive one!

It could be a flap of leather you can tie closed or an old leather journal cover (as is Jonathan Fisk’s) with a headband that keeps it closed. My version is a little portfolio that zips up, which I got from Doxology years ago. It’s about the size of half a regular sheet of paper. (Here’s another example that could be usable.) Goal: simple something to carry that keeps papers together. 

Inside magic happens.

Either you can use pads of paper (I use something sized 3.5×5.5) or you can take several sheets of blank printer paper and fold it in half. Boom: four sides, sized 5.5 x 8, which is already a natural folder of paper. I use folded paper and one central pad of paper.

If you’ve just folded a stack of papers, I commend you for your diligence. At the same time, separate those pages. We are aiming for codex and codices! Place one folded piece of paper after another, keeping the folds together. Then place it back into a paper cover piece. (You could use different colors for title/cover pages—or entire folders—or not.)

By keeping the pages independent in this way, you can easily a) remove what you’re finished with, and b) add an infinite amount of paper, even as you keep the whole shabang able to fit in your hand.

Again, simple folded paper acts as both folder cover and interior pages. Easily removeable, easily transformable into a its folder.

You’ll want different folders of paper for different things, and part of the beauty is that you can keep folders within folders. When something becomes major or imminent, move it out as it’s very own folder. Or, when nothing is especially pressing, flip through a broader folder to find whatever is shovel-ready for whatever mood you’re in. 

If you’d like, you can take a paper that will serve as a folder cover. Give it two creases, slightly apart from the middle. It’s like creating a faux-book binding. That way you can a) label between the two creases, and b) create room for more paper.

To further organize inside your folder, title in such a way that fanning out the pages will show you all your options.  Would you fan out, from the left to right, then title along the left side. Would you fan out top to bottom? Title along the tippy top.

Pros & Cons

Pros: 

  • Everbook is a versatile, infinite system, that pretty much could not have a lower cost.

Cons:

  • There’s still filing involved if you want to save your notes, but at least the system implies a systematic way to file things also.
  • You do have to figure out your specific needs. 
  • You may get overly excited and buy too much colored paper. 🙂

As far as I can tell, this is ideal for just about any project-driven field. It allows for all sorts of brainstorming & notes, as long as you keep things together.

The reason I personally really like the Getting Things Done system is that it frees your mind to focus rather than remember everything. This system does that also. You just need a little initial input to figure out what’s on your plate & how you can best rotate your time and attention, as in more organizational methods.

Could one get too absorbed in details rather than jumping into this as a practical tool? Maybe. But if we approach this as something that can grow and develop with us, what’s the harm? A $20 refillable journal and 20-sheets of paper?

Conclusion

I don’t think my husband approaches things in a project-driven manner. Hence we developed our Pastoral Planner. Still, am a more multi-tasking, project-driven person, and the Everbook system holds a lot of appeal to me.

You can have much more at your finger tips than a To Do list. You can start shifting towards a Next Action mind-frame with separate folders for long term and short term responsibilities and goals. As far as I’m concerned, you can seize a ream of printer paper and change the world! 🙂 With a little organizational help, that is.

Updating My Wad to Everbook

As for me, I keep a running list of projects that I update every time I redo my to do list, as I learned from Getting Things DoneThen, shuffling through my notes right now, I’m taking sheets of paper to make folder covers for the following:

  • Medical stuff from recent well-child visits
  • LutheranHomeschool.com notes
  • Poetry/Hymnody notes
  • Vocation (I’m preparing a six-session presentation on Family Vocations.)
  • Random (Because sometimes I just need that for novel ideas, random thoughts & questions, etc.)
  • And a single sheet of paper with home improvement plans so I can keep those clear in my mind.

Will I eventually type up my poetry/hymnody notes? Sure! But at least I know where I can find them until I do.

Will I keep all my vocation tidbits and file them later? Nah. I’m mostly adding occasional insights or turns of phrase as they come up to strengthen what I’ve already prepared. But I don’t want to run to my computer every time I have a thought, right?!

Admittedly, I keep a pad of paper in my portfolio. Along the top, I label MTWRFSS so I know what’s happening for the week. My To Do list is on the left. My dates coming up on the right. On the lower left, I list books I still intend to write up reviews for. On the lower left, I list my projects. All on a 3.5×8 inch tablet of paper. When it gets cluttered, I copy it out and think through where things stand. Sometimes a page lasts me for two weeks or more, depending on how regular & routine the time of year is.

I’ll use a mix of folded paper and my smaller paper, since my projects aren’t always a big deal. More likely, I just think of another list of resources to share.

Potential Everbook Models 

Let’s imagine a few models to make things even easier and even more easy to communicate:

A Writer

  • A Next Action Folder
    • You could have a To Do list for home, work, hobbies, etc.
    • A list of pending items if you’re waiting on anything and the next action that should happen when you receive them.
  • An idea pack
    • This is a place where things can happily simmer. Get them off your mind til a better time. 
  • Projects: Either one folder or many for whatever project you’re working on. If something needs to go on a back burner, just have a file folder somewhere for that. When you’re ready, slip the folder back in your portfolio.
    • Interior folders could include chronologies, character descriptions to maintain consistency, Bible references to check out, title ideas, etc.
  • Pending: This is where you note when you sent in that query or when you can expect something back from an editor.
  • Marketing Plan: This is where you write up slogans you think of or images of potential covers. Here you scribble names for a launch party, etc. Also a quick, well-worded summary of your bio & projects in case you meet an agent or publisher! 

Pandemic Organizer? I’ve been there!

  • A Next Action Folder
    • You could have a To Do list for home, work, increasing supplies, etc.
    • A list of substitutes and plans B, C, and D.
    • A list of pending items if you’re waiting on anything and the next action that should happen when you receive them.
  • Inventories & Goals
    • I don’t know whether folks inventory everything, but my homeschooling inventory sure helped me understand how to build a bit of food surplus when Oklahoma shut down!
    • Meal Planning
    • Emergency Plans & Preparations
  • Emergency Info not stored in your phone?
  • CDC Zombie Preparedness notes?

I trust you see my point, even if my tongue is partially in my cheek.

Ah, here’s one!

A Thoughtful Pious Person

  • A folder for prayer lists! Take your organizer everywhere and update it at church or when you’re out and about and hear about someone in need!
  • A folder with some blank cards in it so you can pop a card in the mail when you hear someone is sick or has a birthday or anniversary coming up! Just be sure to get an external cover big enough to carry that sort of thing without crumpled corners. 
  • A folder for things To Say and Not To Say (Maybe I secretly wish folks could be so pro-active.)

More seriously now:

Pastor

  • A Workweek Folder
    • Areas of focus 
    • Calendar information
    • Daily planner
  • Maybe a folder for grievers (Visitation, Stephen Ministry grief books, Anniversaries of deaths, etc.)
  • A log book for mileage & visitation
  • A log book for sermon & worship prep (or those could be two separate folders)
  • A place to jot down things to pick up from the store. Because you still probably need to go to the store.

I don’t know how a pastor would plan hymns without all his other stuff, so I’m not sure how portable a task that is. It seems to me that one of the major strengths of this system is how it is handy wherever you may be. 

Student

  • Daily planner template & folder
  • Current Assignments
  • Long Term Assignments
  • Folders per class with syllabi, if they’ve got them
  • Travel arrangements? Days off? Finals’ schedule?

Side-Project Entrepreneurs

  • Folder for a) business plan, b) finances, and c) summary statements so that it’s easy to sell your project in various scenarios. You don’t have to remember it all, but you’re automatically prepared if you’re put on the spot.
  • Project folders
  • Folder for feedback & ideas for improvement
  • New ideas

The list of Everbook models could go on and on. What do you think? 😀 What categories would you recommend, for yourself or others? What could make Everbook even more helpful, free idea & resource that it is?

PS. Welcome to another entry in my Free Lutheran Resources page!

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One Response to Everbook

  1. I’ve been using Everbook in various formats for about a year and a half. Between my pastor schedule with a dual parish and my writing projects, I found that I needed to be more intentional with my planner. I made a blog post about my earliest iteration of my Everbook here: https://pastoralkorn.blogspot.com/2019/04/everbook-modular-planner.html

    I’ve since changed formats again, in large part because the yearly calendar y’all assembled puts large parts of what I was using into a bound planner. In addition to a staple-bound 12-month calendar, I used to have loose pages for each week, loose pages for sermon prep and liturgical planning, and loose sheets for visitations and mileage reports, all of which are bound in the Cranach planner. The planner is too thick for my original Everbook 8.5×11 format, so I’ve acquired a 6×9 cover. I miss the larger format, but the Cranach planner is just too convenient, and it fits the Everbook/GTD style very well. (I like having fewer loose pages!)

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