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How do you track follow-up actions effectively?

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First things first - I understand Evernote is not meant to be a project management tool and might not be as effective as other apps such as Asana. Being so reliant on Evernote, however, I'd like to hear how other fellow users (if any) use it for such a purpose. 


I've tried various methods but all have been sub-optimal: 


1. Setting a reminder on my To-do list notebook

It works well for easy to do, one-off tasks (e.g. buy milk) but doesn't cut it for long projects - e.g. write a white paper (and the intermediate steps/milestones that come with it). What happens is that my entire Evernote list will be cluttered with reminders and it'd be hard to keep track of them. 


2. Using checkbox lists in a note

Unfortunately, I cannot set individual reminders for each checkbox (i.e. for each intermediate step to be completed) to remind myself to complete the task.

Also, I am unable to monitor the tasks from an overall bird's eye view (i.e. stage/% of completion, keeping track of challenges that occur along the way). 


3. Using Tables to track progress

The tables function within Evernote is pretty limited vis-à-vis MS Word. For example, I am unable to create bulleted and indented lists and background highlighted boxes, unless I do the table within Word first, then transfer over to Evernote thereafter. This defeats the purpose of using Evernote for storing all my work. 


Could there be a more effective workflow that you guys are already using with success?


I look forward to hearing from you soon. 


thank you so much! 

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The reality about Evernote is that you're not going to get much in the way of automation when it comes to task management - which can actually be a good thing...


Evernote is not that intuitive when it comes to a fully-fledged task-management system. At least it's not ready-made for you. However, the sheer number of ways you can set your system up in Evernote at least deserves a hearing. That's why I created a series of posts on setting up a complete solution within your app itself. Also, I'm in the middle of a series that makes use of 3rd-party Evernote apps. The system I set up I like to call "Kanban Calendar". It's a mashup of GTD, Kanban and the Eisenhower Matrix. It can also be set up in just about any other app out there.


The thing with Evernote and many other great apps out there, is that if you want something tailor-made for your workflow, that will often involve using the app itself in a counter-intuitive way. Meaning that you will most likely not be using the main features they sell themselves on. In many cases you have to forego the automation they offer - things like recurring reminders "postponing"/ "putting off" features that hide your tasks until the due date, etc. Besides, Evernote doesn't do much in the way of automation, so my system can be threshed out in many different ways therein. So far, I've given 4 markedly different dynamics in Evernote that implement my system.


You mentioned setting reminders, using checkbox lists and tables not working for you. Each one, in themselves, do not really cut it when it comes to a seamless and logical follow-on structure. However, I draw upon each of them within a bigger framework. In my 1st post I talk about setting up the 3 sections of my workflow (Backlog/ Today/ Calendar) intra-note, with as decent aesthetics as you're going to get in Evernote, together with note links to the discrete sections of the setup. The 2nd post leverages the Reminders List which allows one to drag and drop tasks between notebook sections (Kanban-like stages) anywhere within your system, be it within the Reminders List itself or on Desktop to your notebook/ tag lists in the Left Panel. I also go into the on-ramps of getting your tasks directly into the Reminder list in a variety of ways from outside the app itself. The 3rd post is a fun one about using the Skitch annotation tools to drag and drop elements within an image/ background of your choice (the only drag-and-drop you currently get within the confines of a note). Presentation mode also comes into play there to visualize your Kanban board. The 4th post talks about a tag-based setup as opposed to a notebook-based setup. Similar to post #2, but I go through some pros and cons of both counterparts. Posts 5-10 go into how to set my system up using 3rd-party Evernote apps. Next week and for the following 4, I'll be posting on these fantastic apps which mine certain information you point it to from your Evernote account: Swipes (harvests your checkboxes from EN and allows you to arrange them in some cool ways), Gneo (Eisenhower-Matrix-based app that syncs both ways with EN)... + 3 other apps one would never think to use for task management in tandem with EN. 


Here's a preamble to that series:




Here's the first post in the series:




There's a lot of geekiness and cheesiness you'll have to wade through. My apologies in advance!

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It is amazing as to how much personal preference enters into how we all manage our projects and follow ups. My process is to keep everything in EN and to add a reminder at the note level and manage those reminders using PhaseExpress hot keys to focus the reminders to date ranges (since native EN dynamic date searches don't work).  But that's me.


Reading your post, and IF you want to keep everything in EN, you could use the check boxes in a note approach and change the reminder date for the next task each time you complete a task.  You could use a table in that note and include a check box, task description, due date, completed date, and comments.  In this manner summary information relative to the project would be in one note.  You could use note links to incorporate other relevant notes if need be.  You could add a specific tag to this type of note, or precede all notes of this type with a character, . For example, so .Project1, .Project2, etc.  If you enter your due dates in 20yymmdd format you can create some saved searches for current needs, tag:.* 2014122* for example.  All of this lives within the constraints of EN, but has the attendant limitations of those functional constraints.


Anyway, just some thoughts based upon your post.  But again, this stuff is so based upon how each of us manages our work.  Good luck and come back and tell us if you find something that works well for you.

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