danlandrum 4 Posted April 6, 2011 Share Posted April 6, 2011 Inspired by the Noteworthy Blog, what follows will be a few paragraphs about how I use Evernote on a daily basis. (This started in another thread but someone suggested a new topic would be best.) Please, post your best practices too.Like most of you, I spend a great deal of my life using software of some kind or another. Most programs I use, like Photoshop, Ableton Live, or Quickbooks, are good at a particular kind of job. Evernote was harder for me to quantify. Sure, it's a filing system, but it doesn't define what should be stored in it, or how it should be arranged. That part took me a while to decide upon. Was Evernote to be my GTD system, a cloud based Finder replacement, the place where I keep and develop my ideas and projects? After more than a year of trying and abandoning various tagging systems I realized that while Evernote could do all of these things if I was able to manage them properly, it took more fiddling than I was able to maintain. Still, Evernote had to be good, best even, at something. Right? After all, there are over 7 million people using this software now, though you'll notice it isn't easy to find many concise write ups on exactly how it is being used. Through trial and error I came to understand there were three distinct areas I was trying to cover with this one software tool: task management, brainstorming and idea development, and storage and retrieval of reference material. I have settled on a system that uses three different pieces of software now. Evernote is used for the one which I think it does best, with the least amount of attention - reference. My ToolsEvernote = referenceOmnifocus = task management Curio = brainstorming and idea developmentUbiquitous Inbox - capture and forget about it for now.Evernote desktop client is my ubiquitous inbox in my office, and is used in conjunction with a ScanSnap scanner. Away from the desk, or to record a note or snap a picture, I use the iOS client on a current generation iPod touch which is always in my pocket.Items in my Evernote inbox get processed daily when all goes according to plan. When it doesn't, I don't worry about things slipping through the cracks as they're waiting patiently and out of sight in my default Evernote notebook which is simply called "Inbox".I have 7 notebooks in addition to my Inbox notebook. In GTD terminology these are my horizons of focus. These are used only when a project in one of the horizons is on the front burner and being frequently referenced. These notebooks are NOT longterm storage and get emptied on a regular basis.Horizons of Focus1. EverythingDulcimer.com (a website I manage)2. Dulcimer Players News Magazine (a quarterly magazine I edit & publish)3. DulcimerSchool.com (a subscription based online learning site I co-own)4. Musician (what I am in addition to all the other things I do to make a living)5. Health/Personal (taking care of myself)6. Home (items I need around the house and for home improvement projects)Longterm Storage7. General Reference. (This is the final resting place for everything.)Emptying the Inbox - Things in my inbox are either tasks, projects, reference items or trash. At the moment I captured it, I might not have been sure which it was. I just knew I wanted to capture the thought, or pic, or recording. If I determine the note is really a task or a project, then it goes into OmniFocus (insert your favorite task management system here) and gets deleted from the inbox unless it contains reference material I might like to keep around even if the project didn't exist. These actions get clearly defined when moved into Omnifocus. They don't just go to another inbox. I do also capture many items which are clearly tasks directly into Omnifocus during the day so that inbox needs to be cleared as well. I don't generally move anything from my Evernote Inbox to Curio. Curio gets called into play based on a action in Omnifocus like "Outline classes for Augusta Heritage Festival" or "Determine articles for Summer DPN," etc.If the note contains something I might want to reference, then it gets a clearly descriptive name. This makes it easier to pick out, or ignore, in an Evernote search generated list. (I'm one of those people that Dave mentioned in the last podcast that trusts the search engine to find my items, rather than spending a lot of time messing with tags, though this isn't how I started over a year ago. I generally don't create tags to correspond with Omni project names. I found I never really used them and couldn't remember them in the heat of battle anyway.)So, are tags good for anything then?For me tags are temporary unless they pertain to something I would naturally want to see in a list. For instance: books or music I want to buy, descriptions of workshops I teach, design ideas, performance setlists, vocabulary words, content ideas, receipts pertaining to a particular trip or project etc. Shopping items go into an Omnifocus shopping context. To me, my Horizons of Focus in Evernote ARE contexts and get reviewed as such. This way, notes in my HOF notebooks get cleared out when they're no longer relevant to what I'm actually doing. Sure, I sometimes will group items together so I can find them as a whole later, but I generally do this by merging notes and giving the merged note a name related to the project, rather than tagging all the items. YMMV, but this is something that works well for me. I sometimes do other creative things with tags, but this is generally a temporary thing, and I don't count on finding things later, other than list based items I mentioned above, by tags. I guess I could go on and on about how this gets used on a daily basis, but this gives you a general idea of how I use this amazing software.I recognize there are other ways of achieving the same results - perhaps some are better - but this is a practical system that works for me. Am I a productivity ninja that always reaches my goals? Hardly. I do know what they are though, and I have a good grasp on that to which I've committed myself. I don't worry about losing reference material any more or keeping up with some complex tagging system. I have confidence in Evernote's search engine. I sleep soundly. Now I just need to find software that will not allow me to commit to so much. - Dan Link to comment
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