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AlanNotes

Tasks, Reference, Projects(Tag Based Workflow)

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Hi everyone,
 
I was recently re-vamping how I organized things in Evernote and moved from a notebook based structure to a tag-based one. The goal is to do both task management and keep reference material in Evernote. When I started setting up this structure, I focused on separating my task workflow from my reference workflow. However, as I continue to use this system, I have debated on just keeping my when and where tasks tags and freely marking any of my notes if some action is required. If anyone is doing this, let me know how it is working.
 
I have about 1000 notes right now, and the system seems to be working well, but I want to make sure I'm not missing any gaping holes that will make it hard to find information later when I have many more notes, and it would be harder to restructure. This tag organizational system is already influenced by other tagging systems and users here on the forum(thanks!). My main hang-ups are how to tie projects together efficiently with individual tasks, how to prevent my someday items from clogging up my task list, and if my current reference structure is specific enough to find the information again down the road. I've also been tinkering with the idea of adding context for energy level(ex: high energy tasks/brain dead tasks.)
 
Any ideas and feedback are welcome! I will be adding the structure of my system below.  
 
 
 
Summary info:
Primary Evernote platform: Windows (also use android and web)  
Notebooks: 6
Tags: ~ 94  
Notes: ~983 
 
Notebooks: 
  • !nbox
    • Dumping ground
  • Actions
    • Where all tasks live
  • Cabinet 
    • Where all reference material lives 
  • Completed 
    • Where completed tasks live
  • Templates
    • General templates for tasks, projects, meetings, etc
  • Travel
    • Special Notebook just to place notes I want access to offline(since this is done by notebook)
 
Task tags:  "." Indicates organization tag for tasks tags. No notes get this tag. 
.Projects(~) 
  • .Active
  • .Complete
  • .Inactive
  • .Master (All projects view) 
  • "~" Tag for active projects and can pull reference and tasks notes together.  
 
.When("!" and "1-6") 
  • !Daily
  • 1-Now
  • 2-Next
  • 3-Soon
  • 4-Someday
  • 5-Waiting 
  • 6-Tickler (Added this to move all waiting for tasks with a specific date to the tickler group) 
  • Reminder(not a tag)
 
.Where(@)
  • @Home
  • @Work
  • @Errand (Tasks the are done while out and about or need to be done during the 8-5 business day.) 
 
.Who <- Wasn't sure how to use this effectively(ended up using arrows to indicate who was responsible)
  • ->john-smith (something I gave john to do)
  • -john-smith> (something john gave me to do) 
 
Reference Tags: "+" Indicates organization tag for Reference tags. No notes get this tag. 
+Scope(s.) 
  • s.home
  • s.work
  • s.dog
  • s.health
    • s.health.fitness
    • s.health.bills 
  • s.finance
+Document(d.)
  • d.bill
  • d.email
  • d.photo
  • d.recipe
+Entity(w.) <- can use short first name for well known contacts 
  • w.Lastname-Firstname1
  • w.BUSINESS_NAME
  • w.name1
 
For more granularity to focus in on a subset of any category and additional "." can be used: 
Ex: s.work.expenses 
Ex: s.health.fitness
 
Calendar / Reminders:
Sync to google calendar with Cronofy
 
 
Using this structure workflow notes: 
  • Things start in Inbox as a dumping ground and move to reference or tasks
  • Tasks must at minimum have a when tag, but most likely have a when and where tag 
  • Reference notes must have at least one tag
 
Saved Searches: 
  • I used saved searches to enforce top list view for tasks and snippet view for reference generally 
  • I used a saved search to look for notes in reference that don't have a tag and notes in tasks that don't have a when tag
  • I add my task and reference saved searches to shortcuts and they include: 
    • Inbox - Notes in Inbox in top list view 
    • Actions - Notes in Actions in top list view 
    • Home - Notes in Actions with @Home tag in top list view sorted by tag 
    • Work - Notes in Actions with @Work tag in top list view sorted by tag 
    • Errands - Notes in Actions with @Errand tag in top list view sorted by tag 
    • Projects  - Notes is all notebooks with any .Active tag(used for active projects) 
    • s.topic1 - Notes with a specific scope tag that I use frequently in snippet view
  • Cabinet - All Reference material in snippet view
  • Recent Activities - Recent Notes (any: updated:day-2 created:day-2) 
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56 minutes ago, AlanNotes said:

I have debated on just keeping my when and where tasks tags and freely marking any of my notes if some action is required.

This is the system I use.  Any note can be tagged as Actionable.

>>When("!" and "1-6")

I use a date based system; storing the start date using the Reminder feature
The Reminder feature also stores completion date/status 
My Current Task List is a saved search: reminderOrder:* -reminderTime:day+1 -reminderDoneTime:*

>>Calendar / Reminders:   Sync to google calendar with Cronofy

I use scripting on my Mac; sync'd to Apple Calendar/Reminders

>>Projects  - Notes is all notebooks with any .Active tag(used for active projects) 

For my Project processing, tasks and projects are linked with a tag
tag: !Project-aaaaaaaaaa

For Project Reviews, I list my project notes in title sequence, and use a prefix to control the sequence 
     -Project Master Note
     ttTask (Next Action)
     tTask
     tTask
     Misc. Project Note


 

 

 

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32 minutes ago, AlanNotes said:

However, as I continue to use this system, I have debated on just keeping my when and where tasks tags and freely marking any of my notes if some action is required

I add action tags or reminders to notes and it works well for me. 

  1. I have morphed to using reminders more than action tags across time.  I still use action tags for those items not particularly date sensitive.
  2. I do not use organization type task tags, I found them redundant to the when tag or the reminder.  All of my action tags have ! as a prefix, facilitates tag drop down selection and tag column sorting.  I have added a few action tags for my work flow 
  3. I have reminder searches for Today, Tomorrow, Late, Yesterday, etc.
  4. I have a hot key that puts _Completed yyyy.mm.dd into a note when it is done at which point I close the reminder or remove the action tag from the note.  An _compl* search or a remimnderdonetime search returns completed tasks.
  5. I do not use a where tag anymore, it was just extra work of no value for me.
  6. I use =Lastname for people tags.
  7. I use .Projectname for project tags.
  8. I don't prefix reference or other material tags.  Statement is Statement no d.Statement.
  9. I create parent tags to organize tags, not to help with any searching.  So the Accounts parent tag has child tags for each account be it utility, insurance, whatever.
  10. 38.000 notes 400 tags, 6 notebooks plus Inbox and Scans for clearing house.  1,321 notes have had a reminder on them at some point in time, 122 active at the moment.

End of the day it has to feel right to you.  I migrated from action tags to reminders for "current" tasks because I became more productive as opposed to shuffling the tags.  I still use the action tags for further out tasks, and oftentimes those tasks will get a reminder date at some point.  This was a reasonably simple transition using EN.  So I wouldn't be too worried.  FWIW.

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38 minutes ago, DTLow said:

This is the system I use.  Any note can be tagged as Actionable.

>>1-Now, 2-Next, 3-Soon

I use a date based system; storing the start date using the Reminder feature
The Reminder feature also stores completion date/status 
My Current Task List is a saved search: reminderOrder:* -reminderTime:day+1 -reminderDoneTime:*

>>Calendar / Reminders:   Sync to google calendar with Cronofy

I use scripting on my Mac; sync'd to Apple Calendar/Reminders

For my Project processing, tasks and projects are linked with a tag
tag: !Project-aaaaaaaaaa

For Project Reviews, I list my project notes in title sequence, and use a prefix to control the sequence 
     -Project Master Note
     ttTask (Next Action)
     tTask
     tTask
     Misc. Project Note


 

 

 

OK, so it sounds like any note marked as actionable works at scale from your experience. I had thought about using a date based method, but I thought that I would have to come up with several arbitrary dates to make this work, so I left it as general now, soon, later, etc. I'm going to try out a similar project structure, because I don't like how I'm currently doing that, there is too much tagging and untagging to organize projects. 

I use reminders right now to sync to calendar notes that have specific due dates and I also use them to "pin" important notes in snippet view for reference material. 

Thanks for the input DTLOw, I referenced a few of your posts when looking at systems to implement. 

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19 hours ago, CalS said:

End of the day it has to feel right to you.  I migrated from action tags to reminders for "current" tasks because I became more productive as opposed to shuffling the tags.  I still use the action tags for further out tasks, and oftentimes those tasks will get a reminder date at some point.  This was a reasonably simple transition using EN.  So I wouldn't be too worried.  FWIW.

 

Thanks for the input, this help a lot. I may migrate to using reminders as I use my system, but knowing that it was a pretty simple transition for you given the scale of notes is reassuring. 

If you don't use organizational tags for task does that mean your only tags for marking someting as needing an action is a single action tag on the note? Could you give me a couple examples of your action tags?

This makes sense if the context of where is not important. In your system do you use where only in your reference notes or is it ommited completely? I was thinking it would be useful for search in some cases.  

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21 minutes ago, AlanNotes said:

Thanks for the input, this help a lot.

You are welcome.

1 minute ago, AlanNotes said:

If you don't use organizational tags for task does that mean your only tags for marking someting as needing an action is a single action tag on the note? Could you give me a couple examples of your action tags?

 
Action tags are below.  I started using the TSW method and ended up with this list.  The first seven are self explanatory, the others are cyclical reviews other than !LM which is used on phone notes where I have left a message for someone (!LM is in my shortcut bar).  I have also included the saved searches I use with reminders.  I keep the left panel closed, prefix the reminder searches with !.  In that way I can click the magnifying glass and pick a reminder search.  Same for tags.  Again, most of my task work has moved to the reminder searches.  And when I complete the task I will hot key _Completed 06/21/2018 01:07 PM - into the note and remove the tag or mark the reminder complete.
 
ScreenClip.png.147b818f79b19727d0b6fff5f95bfe59.png       ScreenClip.png.6c443619cec975221a187a9cc3dd4e84.png
 
13 minutes ago, AlanNotes said:

This makes sense if the context of where is not important. In your system do you use where only in your reference notes or is it ommited completely? I was thinking it would be useful for search in some cases.  

 
No context usage at all.  I found most of my search results were small enough that I could eyeball the results and make decisions.  If I selected the !1-Now tag and got 87 results there would have been something wrong with my system was my logic.  ?  Horses for courses though.
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On 6/20/2018 at 5:25 PM, DTLow said:

This is the system I use.  Any note can be tagged as Actionable.

>>When("!" and "1-6")

I use a date based system; storing the start date using the Reminder feature
The Reminder feature also stores completion date/status 
My Current Task List is a saved search: reminderOrder:* -reminderTime:day+1 -reminderDoneTime:*

 

3

I had a follow-up question on your system. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the above-saved search returns the following: 

reminderOrder* = any notes with a reminder 

-reminderTime:day+1 = exclude any notes that have a reminder time in the future (tomorrow to infinity) 

-reminderDoneTime:* = exclude any notes that have a done time(meaning they have been completed) 

 

What I also found is that this will return notes with a reminder set, but no date. With how I use reminders this ends up bringing up notes that I have "pinned" in snippet view with a reminder to make them easily accessible, which is fine but is worth noting for anyone else that wants to use this method.

My question was, do you populate enough tasks that have dates set on a specific day to have a good task list to work form? Do you have another saved search that looks a couple of days out if you finish these tasks for the given day? 

 

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46 minutes ago, AlanNotes said:

do you populate enough tasks that have dates set on a specific day to have a good task list to work form?

Yes, because if I'm working on a task, I always set the date.

This might be just the current date; the fact that I'm working on the task means I set the date.

>>Do you have another saved search that looks a couple of days out if you finish these tasks for the given day? 

I usually just run the Current Task search and adjust the day+1 parameter

>>What I also found is that this will return notes with a reminder set, but no date. With how I use reminders this ends up bringing up notes that I have "pinned" in snippet view with a reminder to make them easily accessible, which is fine but is worth noting for anyone else that wants to use this method.

To exclude entries with no date, change the ReminderOrder:* parameter to ReminderTime:*

I don't use non-date reminders for pinning, just for actionable items that are not date specific or sequence dependent, or just notes I want to follow up on.

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28 minutes ago, AlanNotes said:

My question was, do you populate enough tasks that have dates set on a specific day to have a good task list to work form? Do you have another saved search that looks a couple of days out if you finish these tasks for the given day? 

I guess the tasks on any given day are going to be based upon the dates you have set?  Probably more related to how you define tasks.

-reminderdonetime:* remindertime:day -remindertime:day+8 is the search for notes with dated reminders in the next seven days.  Change +8 to +31 to get the next 30 days, or whatever for the days ahead of your choice.

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32 minutes ago, CalS said:

remindertime:day  ...  search for notes with dated reminders in the next seven days

I include tasks dated in the past that are still outstanding, so remindertime:*

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4 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I'd want to include tasks dated in the past that haven't been completed, so remindertime:*

I restrict the next 7 day search to the next 7 days, hence the name of the search.  I have a late search for late items, hence the name of that one.  ?

Different work flow I suppose.

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On 6/20/2018 at 5:25 PM, DTLow said:

For my Project processing, tasks and projects are linked with a tag
tag: !Project-aaaaaaaaaa

For Project Reviews, I list my project notes in title sequence, and use a prefix to control the sequence 
     -Project Master Note
     ttTask (Next Action)
     tTask
     tTask
     Misc. Project Note

 

5

I was implementing some changes based on the feedback that I thought would improve my system. With your projects how do you review all active projects vs all projects? I was using a tag .Active and then I could review by tag. However, this ends up being a bit messy just because I then have to tag the master note with the project ~projecta and then tag with .Active. I have other meta tags for projects but may simplify to just .Active for active projects and anything else doesn't matter. 

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6 hours ago, AlanNotes said:

With your projects how do you review all active projects vs all projects?

I presume notes are active until flagged as archived.
To archive notes, I have a generic tag:!Archive

My saved search for projects is  tag:!Type-Project   -Tag:!Archive
This gives me a list of Project Master notes for active projects
To view all projects, I remove the  -Tag:!Archive

To drill down to the project notes, I use the filter-by-tag option (Mac)301831984_ScreenShot2018-06-24at05_55_39.png.6124a676ff7bfcf3c105ade22ef99da9.png

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