Jump to content
Eldorado

Using tags to implement dynamic ToDo lists

Recommended Posts

Background: Many people use many tools to manange their daily ToDo lists. Some of them use Evernote (EN). I'm one of them and have been asked to document my methodology together with some relating hints. 
 
If your're interrested, continue reading. If not - ignore this post ;-)
 
  1. Create a new note for every ToDo item
  2. Tag the notes with information that describes the "Done" state
  3. Use Saved Searches to dynamically show current ToDo list in Top List format
  4. Edit items (notes) along with your doings and change "Done" state tags accordingly
  5. Tune up your ToDo lists with other special tags
 
I'll explain these steps with some examples. Thereby I will use Windows UI features (my preferred environment) but I think it's possible to do so in all other worlds, too. Please excuse some German text within the screen shots. I didn't translate by examples so far...
 
First if all, You may use the following Option settings that help to make your life easier:
image.png.803adc96f04a8c2a1bafd0fb60838352.png
 
1. Create a new note for every ToDo item
 
  • Press Ctrl-N to open a new note window (in parallel to so far unchanged main EN window)
  • Give the note a descriptiv but short title
  • add tag ">0-in-work"
image.png.840b0e2ca5e737ea878577dfe6d1b75f.png
 
2. Tag the notes with information that describes the "Done" state
 
  • All tags that describe "Done" states should start with the special character ">"
    • this helps to assign the tags because EN offers possible tag names after each keyboard click when assigning tags to notes:
image.png.34d11773972d066a8054543e72a00659.png
 
  • Here is a list of possible tag names and their meaning:
    • >0-in-work: task is currently "in work". You should take care to have no more than 3-5 task in work in parallel (so my example is not a good one...)
    • >1-now: start work immediately after the "in-work-queue" has been cleared
    • >2-next: marks tasks that should be done in near future
    • >3-hr-meeting, >3-staff-meeting, >3-...: tasks to be discussed in the next meeting(s)
    • >8-waiting: Tasks that are waiting for anything or anyone. Currently nothing to do (except re-asking for answers 😉)
    • >9-done: Task is done (closed)
    • Hint: The digit immediately after the special character ">" causes EN to show the tags in pretty order in all lists 
 
 
3. Use Saved Searches to dynamically show current ToDo list in Top List format
 
If you have tagged your note following the rules described above, it's very easy to show ToDo lists in Top List format (press Ctrl-F7)
image.png.d8b7f580aa403eb0c95da7946bf67610.png
 
This format has a lot of advantages:
 
  • Within this format you can sort your notes according each column by clicking on column headers (Created and Updated dates, Titles, Tags or whatever you selected to be shown there)
     
  • You can shrink down the list be adding additional phrases to the search string input box above. The following example shows a list of my ToDos sorted by tags:
image.png.45571ca55b9f8ec18239666d980e7280.png
 
  • It's easy to selected a couple of notes to handle them together
image.thumb.png.c0278b297aeb98a0de3d5dba3fd3ca18.png
 
  • ... or create a special note of references to selected notes: Simply klick Ctrl-Alt-L and paste to a new note by Ctrl-V (in this example I started a new bulleted list after typing "Important ToDos<RETURN>" by clicking Ctrl-Shift-B with a checkbox (Ctrl-Shift-C) before pasting the list with Ctrl-V)
image.png.443506bbc08281ab4fa1bfc4fd666c25.png
 
Sometimes you will find specific search phrases to be useful and want to use it by a one-click operation. That's easy in EN: 
 
  • Simply create a new "Saved Search" by Right-Clicking on "Saved searches" in EN's left pane...
image.png.8f78ec56ad176a6122a54f467ecad88e.png
  • ... and click on "My Todos in work" thereafter to display your current ToDos 😉
 
4. Edit items (notes) along with your doings and change "Done" state tags accordingly
 
Even if you do not see your "ToDo list", you can manage it by changing tags of their items (notes).
 
One example (normal workflow):
  • Select a note from your "in-work" list
  • make some comments and regognize, that you need some stuff from a collegue
    • call or eMail him to beg him for his help
    • mention this in you note
    • remove tag ">0-in-work" and add tag ">8-waiting"
  • continue with your next ToDo 😉
  • Some hours or days later, you should go through your notes with ">8-waiting" to remind your collegue about his promise to help you...
 
Another example (preparing for a meeting)
  • Select a note from your "in-work" list
  • mark it with a tag of type ">3-hr-meeting" (or whatever you plan)
  • just before the next meeting with HR,
    • select all notes tagged with ">3-hr-meeting"
    • workup notes during the meeting (and apply some other tags like ">8-waiting" or ">next")
  • after the meeting clean your current HR-ToDo list by
    • selecting all notes with tag ">3-hr-meeting"
    • and remove this tag with one click like shown above
 
5. Tune up your ToDo lists with other special tags
 
Using a special character as an intro of all tag names can help to describe different areas of information. We (me at home and along with my collegues in the office) use the following tags to manage ...
 
  • > ... when to act on actions (">0-in-work", ">1-now", ">2-next", ">9-done", ...)
  • _ ... who is resposible for the note ("_john", "_doe", "_mickey", ...)
  • @ ... where (office) a note belongs to ("@ulm", "@stuttgart", "@munich", ...)
  • ~ ... from where a note comes from ("~development", "~support", "~<customer>", ...)
  • = ... type of a note ("=overview", "=hint", "=report", "=invoice", ...)
  • ! ... project-dependency of a note ("!EN-usage", "!new-building", "!hiring", ...)
  • ...
 
Doing so, it's very easy to create dynamic ToDo lists for any purpose without re-inventing new tagging strategies for every new business case.
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I'm not seeing a Start/Due date in your process
I record and use the task start/due date
I want tasks to dynamically activate  when the date is reached

I use the Reminder feature to store the Start/Due date
It also records Completion date/status

>>If you have tagged your note following the rules described above, it's very easy to show ToDo lists in Top List format (press Ctrl-F7)694693412_ScreenShot2018-07-01at11_57_46.png.677d3e3d96950e5cb5fb60ab1de8b7f6.png

Top List view is a feature on the Windows/Mac platforms; not available on the other platforms

My Current Tasks list is produced by a saved search   
reminderOrder:* -reminderTime:day+1 -reminderDoneTime:*
I use the copy-links feature to copy the list into my daily journal

Share this post


Link to post

Good info, thanks for sharing.

Whatever works for people is the best system they should adopt, I am a firm believer in that.

From my experience, I tried the 1-Next, 2-Soon.....etc. tagging for the timelines but it did not work for me. It was too much maintenance for me, I already feel like spending time for tagging completed and moving them to a completed notebook. Deciding on the timeline was adding to it and I was not really filtering to see what was next or now or soon etc. I was less disciplined back then too, it might work better for me now.

I kept the "waiting for" tag which I still do not use to the best of its use but it still provides value for sure.

Share this post


Link to post

@DTLow: I'm not seeing a Start/Due date in your process. I record and use the task start/due date. ...

Oups, THX for your hints. I didn't know about search phrases regarding reminder times and state because they are not listed in German help ;-). I'll go into it...

@TK0047: From my experience, I tried the 1-Next, 2-Soon.....etc. tagging for the timelines but it did not work for me. ...

OK, having too many next, over-next, soon and later goals is like an overcrowding in-work (as in my case ;-). I also do not work 100% regarding to my schema but it helps a lot to review the many tasks one might have.

The most effective part of my "tuned tagging schema" are the When, Who, Where, Type and Project tags...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 7/1/2018 at 2:47 PM, DTLow said:

I'm not seeing a Start/Due date in your process

Have you ever detailed your process in some post?  I am curious in particular about your use of the reminder feature. 

The special saved searches seem interesting, but my brief use of reminders ended up showing me upcoming reminders at the top of my lists that were 6 months to a year into the future, with no obvious way to control it besides changing the date of the reminder, so I deemed it useless and gave up. 

Share this post


Link to post
10 minutes ago, Don Dz said:

my brief use of reminders ended up showing me upcoming reminders at the top of my lists that were 6 months to a year into the future, with no obvious way to control it besides changing the date of the reminder, so I deemed it useless and gave up. 

My saved search uses the argument    -reminderTime:day+1

This excludes future dated entries.

>>Have you ever detailed your process in some post?

Other than the saved search, there isn't that much to add

The important point for me is to get a dynamic "due date" into the task organizing.

 

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, DTLow said:

My saved search uses the argument    -reminderTime:day+1

This excludes future dated entries.

In Windows of course to see future reminders you do a search, but in Android at the moment, I have a reminder at the top of the Note list for May 31st 2019, the only way I know to remove it is to mark it as done.  Same thing in the web client, looks about the same as Android. 

I see a similar thing in iOS, except it is only visible if I tap on the clock icon.  It is a yearly recurring task reminder I decided to reactivate to give reminders another chance. 

If the only way to not see it is to have a bunch of reminders that come sooner than that, that would seem less than useful if that's how it works.

Share this post


Link to post
30 minutes ago, Don Dz said:

but in Android at the moment, I have a reminder at the top of the Note list for May 31st 2019, the only way I know to remove it is to mark it as done.  Same thing in the web client, looks about the same as Android. 

I see a similar thing in iOS, except it is only visible if I tap on the clock icon.

I think you're referring to the Reminder view.  I don't use it.

 I prefer a shortcut to a saved search.  This gives me control of which notes are listed.

Share this post


Link to post
On 7/3/2018 at 8:21 PM, Don Dz said:

In Windows of course to see future reminders you do a search, but in Android at the moment, I have a reminder at the top of the Note list for May 31st 2019, the only way I know to remove it is to mark it as done.  Same thing in the web client, looks about the same as Android. 

I see a similar thing in iOS, except it is only visible if I tap on the clock icon.  It is a yearly recurring task reminder I decided to reactivate to give reminders another chance. 

If the only way to not see it is to have a bunch of reminders that come sooner than that, that would seem less than useful if that's how it works.

Hi, 

you can see a saved search on Android as well, either in the app or as a widget - I use this as a dynamic to do list. 

Cheers 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Lexbrkly said:

you can see a saved search on Android as well, either in the app or as a widget - I use this as a dynamic to do list. 

Yes, I also use saved searches in Android.  I was referring to the fact that reminders occupy the top of the note list even if the event is far into the future, that makes them not so useful in Android.

Share this post


Link to post
On 7/5/2018 at 11:36 PM, Don Dz said:

Yes, I also use saved searches in Android.  I was referring to the fact that reminders occupy the top of the note list even if the event is far into the future, that makes them not so useful in Android.

Hi, 

On the right side of the reminders is the menu icon, you can uncheck the second box, it will then not show future reminders anymore. Maybe that helps?

Cheers 

Alex 

Share this post


Link to post
38 minutes ago, Lexbrkly said:

On the right side of the reminders is the menu icon, you can uncheck the second box, it will then not show future reminders anymore. Maybe that helps?

I wasn't referring to wanting to  disable all reminders, rather I was making the point that a reminder far into the future should not be seen, vs a reminder for next week, for example.  If reminders in Android are an all or none proposition, they are not useful, in my view. 

There needs to be a setting to regulate when reminders are shown, the way they would in a Calendar app.

Share this post


Link to post
38 minutes ago, Don Dz said:

I was making the point that a reminder far into the future should not be seen,

I could make a counterpoint; I expect a list of reminders to show all reminders.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, DTLow said:

I could make a counterpoint; I expect a list of reminders to show all reminders.

In the note list together with and before all your notes?  In Android, reminder view is not a separate view from the note list, that's what I was referring to.

You previously mentioned you don't use this feature since you use a saved search instead. 

I would assume a saved search for reminders would show you reminders independently of the note list, (in Android) this might negate the need for reminder view.

I am thinking about that approach as an option, will figure it out eventually.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Don Dz said:

In the note list together with and before all your notes?  In Android, reminder view is not a separate view from the note list, that's what I was referring to.

Notes with reminders are included in the note list.

On Macs, we get an optional Reminders section at the top of the note list with these options 1142239185_ScreenShot2018-07-10at17_25_31.png.fecf77eca467494105a7bb6667f21574.png
It's distinct from the note list section.

 

In IOS, we get a choice of a filtered note list and can select reminders only; screenshot below

7F535691-1BF4-4120-BB83-EE5EFF239A2F.jpeg.b799444c6a642d0aabe23a6fbc2aea75.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
19 minutes ago, DTLow said:

In IOS, we get an choice of a filtered note list and can select reminders only; screenshot below

On Macs, we get an optional Reminders section at the top of the note list.  It's distinct from the note list section.

I took a look at it on my ipad mini after adding a bunch of reminders.  That does seem like the ideal solution, though I think I am beginning to understand a little the  approach used on my Android phone. 

After playing with all the settings in EN Android for a while, it maybe better than a saved search, simpler at least, though iOS is much nicer.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Don Dz said:

though iOS is much nicer

One thing missing from the IOS version is sorting by the reminder time with saved searches.  Other than that, saved searches work well. 

Also, if your primary saved searches are reminder based, putting a prefix on them, exclamation point for example, keeps them at the top of the list.  FWIW.

B79810D4-B11F-4385-AF19-800D4DD26A79.thumb.jpg.80f1f8ec82129856ee3dca94c1b2190f.jpg

EDIT:  added phrase for clarity.

Edited by CalS
Added for clarity.
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
11 minutes ago, CalS said:

One thing missing from the IOS version is sorting by the reminder time.  Other than that, saved searches work well. 

Are you sure?  It is true that I do not see reminder options to set in iOS like with Android, but all the test reminders I added are already sorted by reminder time, not by created or updated.

Share this post


Link to post
22 minutes ago, Don Dz said:

Are you sure?  It is true that I do not see reminder options to set in iOS like with Android, but all the test reminders I added are already sorted by reminder time, not by created or updated.

Pretty much so for saved searches.  So if you have a next seven day saved search for example, the results will be presented in whatever Note List Options you have set.  With Windows you can use the view saving functionality to save the sort with the saved search.

OTOH, if you click the reminder icon the searches are sorted by date.  That doesn't suit my use case.

Share this post


Link to post

Wow,!  Impressive process discussion.  Thanks, @Eldorado for getting the conversation started. 😊

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×