Are you still thinking about leaving Evernote?
Depending on how you use Evernote, ClickUp isn’t a true alternative, but it contains many more features than just a task management product. And even if it doesn’t become a complete Evernote replacement, it could certainly serve as another weapon in your productivity arsenal. I think it is one of the most exciting packages out there, and with weekly updates, the future looks bright.
I have written several articles about Evernote’s current state, and you can find a couple of them at the end of this article. I have also written extensively about Clickup, or at least getting started with it. I think that is where most people grapple with the product in a similar way that people struggle with Notion. A lot is going on, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Also, there are many features and moving parts in the package, and it’s almost certain that nobody needs all of them. But like I said, the developers are rolling out updates every week, so if there is a feature you don’t see, it’s likely it will be coming out in a future release.
In this article, I wanted to focus on the differences between Evernote and ClickUp and give you enough information to decide if you want to try it, whether you leave Evernote or not. I will touch on ClickUps project management resources, as well as document management.
I first tried ClickUp a couple of years ago in the early stages of version one. I arrived there after trying several other alternatives to Evernote that fit the needs I had then. At that time, I had not only gone ‘all-in’ with Evernote as a document storage system, but I had also attempted to make it my all-in-one solution, including task and project management.
As many of you know, Evernote is not really designed or particularly well-suited for task management, but there are three basic ways with variations in which you can do that job. For people without many things to keep track of, you can use notes with simple checklists. For those with more time-sensitive to-dos, you can attach a reminder to every note.
Or for more complex task lists, you can do what I had done and adapt the 43 folders approach of GTD. If this interests you, there are plenty of resources on the net that will help you along, the best of which IMO is The Secret Weapon.
However, I have never been much of a hard-core GTD user and found the folder system cumbersome. That, along with my growing unrest waiting for Evernote to advance developmentally, led me to look at alternatives.
What I should have done and did eventually was split the two areas, document management, and project management, into separate areas, but at the time, I still wanted, as ClickUp claims, One App to Replace Them All.
At that time, I discovered Notion and Nimbus, which I have also written about, as well as two lesser-known packages, Amazing Marvin and MyLIfeOrganized. I urge you to check out both of these as they are both very different, and you likely love or hate them.
I went through a few weeks of testing ClickUp, but it didn’t ‘click’ with me. There were two reasons for this. The first is that ClickUp has a lot going on, and I tried to use all of it. That was my mistake, but it’s easy to do. The other is, at that time, they didn’t have any proper document storage. Each task could contain a note, and, as I will explain later, you can use tasks for document management, but I wanted more.
In 2019, ClickUp released the much-anticipated version 2.0. Like v10 of Evernote, it was rebuilt from the ground up. Unlike Evernote, rather than removing a lot of features, they added many, including Docs. So, I went back there and have used it in various degrees and levels since.
When version 10 of Evernote came out, I began to look at alternatives again like many of you. I dug deeper into ClickUp and started using it more for document management. It hasn’t replaced Evernote for me, but it might be for you, depending on your use case. In either case, with constant development, I am much more excited about the future of ClickUp than I currently am about Evernote.
ClickUp excels at project management. It has a hierarchical approach, like many project management systems, but with more levels than most. At the top is the workspace level. This is basically your account, although you can have more than one workspace and manage them all from the same account. Most people won’t need that.
The main reason for that is the second level, which they call spaces. This is where you could separate businesses, clients, departments, or whatever high-level functional areas you have. For myself, I simply use Business and Personal as my two spaces. Under that is another layer called folders. If you used version 1 of ClickUp, this was called projects and was mandatory. Folders, however, are optional. I use them for some projects and not others. It’s an excellent option.
At the next level is lists. This is the level which in most to-do list software would be called folders. It’s what contains your tasks. And finally, under that is the task level. One advantage to all these different levels is the different things that can be applied to them individually, giving you a tremendous amount of flexibility. For instance, for many tasks, the only statuses you may need are Open and Closed, and possibly In Progress and Waiting. But you may have other use cases where you need more flexible statuses. With ClickUp, you can do that at the list, folder, or space level.
Here is an example of how I use ClickUp for project management, which may help explain its customization power. Under my Business space, I have two folders, Writing, and Photography. In the Writing folder, I have three lists, Articles, Publications, and Tasks. Tasks only have a status of Open or Closed and work like most any task management software.
Publications and Articles are set up to manage not just the tasks but the workflow. Publications contain a list of ‘tasks’ which have no Due Dates and include every publication I have worked with, submitted to, or are interested in. This list contains custom statuses based on the type of material they accept and many other metrics. All of these can be sliced, diced, and displayed in various views, including a calendar view, several kanban views, and many list views.
Articles contain statuses of Idea, Draft, Written, Pitched, Published, and a few others I use to manage my articles’ workflow. These statuses again are used in several Kanban and calendar views. My article list also relies heavily on custom fields. Like statuses, custom fields can be used at any or all levels. For articles, I have a list of custom fields like a secondary status field, displaying the Next Action of each piece, ie, Write, Proof, Pitch, etc. I use due dates for articles, but only for the short time they are actually moving through my workflow.
My use of my Articles list illustrates one of the ways you can use documents in ClickUp. In addition to all of the standard and custom fields and statuses, each task has a Note field whether it has a due date or not. I use that field for notes and the idea for the article. Once I am ready to write it, I create a Document. The way I currently do that is to create it from within the task. This opens up a second window where the document will reside in the documents view of ClickUp. In that way, I can, and usually do, access the article from inside the task, but I can also search for it or find in the Documents view.
The second way you can use documents is to bring them in from the outside. Let’s say I still wanted to use Evernote to store and write my articles. Once complete, I could save it as a PDF file and then attach that to the article task in ClickUp in the same way I would create one on the fly. Again, that document would remain attached to the task and exist in the Documents view.
The final way is to use the Documents view itself. This is separate from the task view and contains a card-like view of all the documents you have in ClickUp regardless of how they were created. There is limited sorting and filtering capability and no good way to organize the documents. For that reason, I use the extremely flexible task hierarchy to manage my documents. Even those with no relation to a real task is attached to one for organizational purposes.
I am hopeful that ClickUp will further develop the Documents view, but as is, it is still very powerful if used in conjunction with the project management tools. Whether it can be an Evernote replacement is up to you, but if not, Evernote and ClickUp make a very powerful team.