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RCoonceTX

Tables with Links

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Managing Responsibilities
With Evernote
 
Richard L Coonce
 
 
 
 
Introduction
 
The purpose of this document is to explain a different way to use Evernote.  This method can significantly improve information management; and provide dramatically better control of responsibilities, tasks, guidelines, and document retrieval.  I suspect that I'm not the first to do this, but I've not seen anything published on it, and considering the impact it's had on my office, it's certainly worth sharing.
 
I've used Evernote for a number of years, first in my own business and now in my after-retirement job.  For the most part, my previous Evernote experience has been, perhaps like most people, simply documenting information and retrieving it with tags and/or key words as needed.  When tables were introduced by Evernote, my initial reaction was that I could find no good use of them.  Evernote tables do not calculate; they're not "smart" in any traditional sense, and cannot be command-sorted on content like a spreadsheet.  I've worked with Evernote for years without ever using tables.
 
When I learned about and started using hyperlinks in Evernote, I stumbled onto a way to use tables and hyperlinks together to understand, manage, and control data better than I ever have before.  As a consequence, Evernote has become a critical and indispensable part of my daily routines, my responsibilities management, my task control, and my historical documentation.  It is now at the center of every responsibility I have in my job including all reports and all required annual processes.
 
 
Tables with Links
 
I use what I call "Control Tables" to essentially make a "yellow brick road" to just about everywhere.   In the table below, every item in the two categories is linked to downstream child-level control tables that focus to more detail and finally, to specific records.
 
The easiest way to show the strength of this cascading-control-tables method is to click through one of the items.  The table below is my Primary Data Control Table, and Open Records is marked with a red arrow so we can look at the click-through to its linked table.
 
image.thumb.png.ce1f67464cdcc3c671366dc9a8f77b31.png
 
Clicking on "Open Records" above takes us to the child-level control table for open records requests.
 
image.thumb.png.73ef99480f78656e74513105bada073f.png
 
This table shows a fair amount of data in one place.  Each control number above (first column) is a unique alphanumeric identification assigned to one specific open records request.  These are actual historical records with the requester temporarily removed for this screen shot.  This Document Control table shows each request with the most critical information in view.  Each request starts as a task management item for unfulfilled requests and then becomes the historical record when fulfilled.  The illustration above shows a  small portion of the actual table; the full table contains more than two years of records so far with well over 200 specific requests.
 
For additional details on a specific request, the ORR number is linked.  Clicking ORR2019056 in the above table (marked with a red arrow) opens this record below:
 
image.png.7b427edaa626ac5828ced1a97a6e3885.png
All contact information in this example is fictitious
 
This detailed record also contains links: (1) the email address, (2) the file name, (3) any historical email records in the box entitled 'Emails,' and (4) text reading "ORR Document Control" in the first column above "Contact Information."  Click on any link to go directly to the document or, in the case of the email address, to bring up a new email ready to be sent.  Any text or object in a note can be linked to other Evernote notes, to computer directories, to specific files (including executable programs), to websites, and to email addresses.  Virtually anything a shortcut can point to can be a link in Evernote.
 
 
Conclusion
 
I don't think I could possibly overstate the benefits of using tables with links for organizing, documenting, understanding, and using data.  The resulting "yellow brick road" makes searching mostly unnecessary.  Tables can be set up in seconds, and it takes only a moment to make a new link.  If you believe you can benefit by using tables with links, don't let the learning curve be a deterrent!  These are just skills and nothing more; anyone can do it.  
 
The Evernote windows app is a free download, and I encourage you to download and install it.  A word to the wise - use a very strong password for your account because your data is stored on Evernote servers and is accessible by browser.
 
 
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Hi.  Much kudos for the detailed explanation.  I have a similar application with far fewer choices.  I also use an app which may be useful to you - Filterize - which will automatically populate 'dashboards' (essentially Tables of Content lists) so that all my notes with a specific tag,  or title,  or in certain notebooks will be added to my current list for that category.

Forinstance every note I create with a 'priority 1' tag will wind up on my current to-do list.

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On 8/9/2019 at 1:17 PM, RCoonceTX said:

I use what I call "Control Tables" to essentially make a "yellow brick road" to just about everywhere.

Essentially master Table-of-Contents notes; nice formatting with the table

>>linked to downstream child-level control tables

I know these as dashboard notes.

I keep these dynamic via an applescript on my Mac.  As @gazumped mentioned, third party Filterize is a solution.

>>Correspondence

I also store a pdf of the email message in addition to the .eml file

>>The Evernote windows app is a free download, and I encourage you to download and install it.

Also available as a Mac app.  There's also Android and IOS apps but they don't have the full featureset.

>>A word to the wise - use a very strong password for your account

Also, a unique password for Evernote; don't use the same password on other sites

For additional security, I encrypt sensitive data.  Evernote has a text encryption feature and I use the native encryption in file attachments (pdfs, office documents, ...)

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Hey @RCoonceTX  wow, that's awesome ...and thanks very much for taking the time to share this, great stuff :-)

I'm also using tables with embedded links a lot, linking to downstream child notes, for workflow management/process steps etc.  But right now I'm a one-man-gang, or at least don't need to share/collaborate with others to implement projects. So my question, if indeed you have a team, is how do you protect the data-integrity/lock-to-editing, all that i.e. esp the parent control table-note - but I guess the downstream notes need to be edit-able. Is it simply a case of making backups? 

Also, I like your pseudo form design...nice. Even light grey font use.

My only preference would be to sort your primary table 'down-then-over'...haha

Also like how you drag the emails in as an attachment. I have been saving emails as separate notes then also linking to them...but maybe this is better, thanks again

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Thanks for sharing.

To the last sentence I would like to add „For an additional layer of security, use 2-factor-authentication to protect your account.“

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Thanks for sharing.  Like others, I do something similar.  But I have found that each additional box/bullet/numbered list, or even check box to some degree, takes an inordinate amount of screen space on a table, both horizontally and vertically, so I try to use as few boxes as possible, and create separation with manual bullet characters ().  rather than bullet lists from the menu, which create a huge left margin, wasted space in my view. 

I need to see as much info without scrolling as possible.

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 I understand we all have different situations and different needs. I do not use this table with links system to organize Evernote; I use it to organize my responsibilities and to provide specific guidelines and detailed steps to complete them.  The four most important of my responsibilities are the least frequent, occurring only once each year.   Evernote tables are a great format for step-by-step details. 

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21 hours ago, Don Dz said:

an inordinate amount of screen space on a table

I have a main dashboard that includes 11 link options (one was an afterthought) which are all visible on my phone screen. 

All of them lead to other link options that are lists of links to notes,  or links to other dashboards...  it's an ideal control system that works well on my phone and allows me to select anything from my current 'to do' priorities,  a list of other lists (there are about 20 links in that one) - to my emergency contacts so I can fill in those annoying 'next of kin' forms easily*,  in two keystrokes.  Three keystrokes allows me to add new projects,  check bank details and carry out other random stuff that's important to me.

(*Plus anyone prizing the phone out of my insensible hands can -hopefully- get to some useful data fast...)

It would be possible to set up something along these lines using normal table of contents notes,  but,  as intimated above,  and in line with my "Laziness Rocks!" principle,  I use Filterize to automatically populate those lists from note tags that I assign.  (I recently got even more creative and created filters in Gmail that move some emails directly to some notebooks (via another Filterize feature) and apply the tags that Filterize will use to add them to dashboards - but I digress...)

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1 hour ago, gazumped said:

I use Filterize to automatically populate those lists from note tags that I assign. 

I have been wondering to what extent one can emulate what Filterize does, but using a script program like AutoHotkey.  it would be an interesting project for sure. 

I use a number of AH scripts with EN to automate things, in conjunction with structured tags and ToC, and of course plenty of dashboards.

I am still not confortable with third party services having access to my data, limited only by a promise not to access more than necessary.

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On 8/14/2019 at 11:59 AM, RCoonceTX said:

I do not use this table with links system to organize Evernote; I use it to organize my responsibilities

My objective is to organize access to the data I have in Evernote, and other sources.

These are links to frequently accessed notes and web pages.

For organizing responsibilities, I include a link to my Project/Task Overview note

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 I looked at the ad for Filterize, and it does look like that could be an effective way to organize a large number of notes in Evernote. But it feels sort of like  getting professional help to organize an office.   I don’t feel overly anxious to add annual fees.  When notes are put into Evernote with a specific action in mind, it seems  simple enough to make the connections when each note is created. 

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17 hours ago, Don Dz said:

I have been wondering to what extent one can emulate what Filterize does, but using a script program like AutoHotkey.  it would be an interesting project for sure. 

This requires use of Evernote APIs for retrieving note data.

I emulate Filterize features using applescript on a Mac

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17 hours ago, Don Dz said:

third party services having access to my data

It is possible to limit which notebooks Filterize deals with,  though given the usual permissions for access that probably doesn't guarantee they're not also able to view the whole account.  The usual caveats apply - if you're actively planning World Domination,  it's probably not a good idea to have details online...  😉

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Different view of the elephant, I tag as I go and use saved searches for organization.  Simpler use case I suppose.

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20 hours ago, CalS said:

Different view of the elephant, I tag as I go and use saved searches for organization.  Simpler use case I suppose.

Absolutely, tags and searches for organization

However, we can't link to tags or searches
Only a link to a ToC type note
Alternative: Insert the search parameters, for example 
                    Active Projects     tag:!Type-Project -Tag:!Archive 

>>unless it is a true reasonably static TOC

Or a dynamic ToC

>>I have a PhraseExpress hot key such that if I hover over the search term it executes.

I manually select the search term, then copy/paste into the search box

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1 minute ago, DTLow said:

Absolutely, tags and searches for organization

However, we can't insert a link into a note for tags or searches
Only a link to a Table-Of-Contents note
Alternative: Insert the search parameters, for example Active Projects     tag:!Type-Project -Tag:!Archive 

Yeah get that.  I use links within notes but not in any TOC or master note concept, unless it is a true reasonably static TOC.  My point is the the note list from the search represents what I want to see.  I tend to be low maintenance and just add notes and let the currency of the search give me the new view.  I do have one note with not so frequently used searches in it.  I have a PhraseExpress hot key such that if I hover over the search term it executes.  That note is in shortcuts.  Again could be a totally different uses case.

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

However, we can't link to tags or searches

Only a link to a ToC type note

One option is to use dashboard notes tagged with the same tags as all the linked ToC notes, that way one can display all the related notes from the right side of the tag in the note, without having to access the left panel. 

Is what I do at least, I don't always feel the need for ToC notes when using dashboard notes this way.

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2 hours ago, DTLow said:

Can you provide more details on this.  My example was Active Projects     tag:!Type-Project -Tag:!Archive

Well, your example was a search, but if a dashboard note had those same tags, it would be a simple matter to click on the right side of both tags in the note, to display all Active Projects, at least in Windows. 

I am referring of course to the right arrow that automatically appears when hovering over the tag area of the note.

In the example below, clicking on the right side of any of those tags would display all notes with those tags.  The effect is cumulative.  I don't know if it works that way on the Mac.

tags.png

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6 hours ago, Don Dz said:

if a dashboard note had those same tags, it would be a simple matter to click on the right side of both tags in the note, to display all Active Projects, at least in Windows. 

We may have different ideas on "dashboard notes"
My Active Projects dashboard note contains links to project notes, as per the above example1375237633_ScreenShot2019-08-15at12_24_41.png.7c90e4cde05cd9bfbd0147a848e98c3b.png

No clicking on tags is required

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3 hours ago, DTLow said:

We may have different ideas on "dashboard notes"
My Active Projects dashboard note contains links to the project notes, as per the above example

No clicking on tags is required

My dashboards are the same type as the example above, but recently I also started using tags the way I described. 


If having access to the EN APIs is the only way to do what you do automatically with a script, I guess the rest of us without access have to try other options for dynamic changes and additions.  My suggestion is one possible option. 

Sometimes this is more convenient than manually updating every dashboard link. I certainly can understand why CalS doesn't bother too much with ToC notes, if they change too frequently.

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9 hours ago, DTLow said:

I'd be interested in seeing the code.  

I manually select the search term, then copy/paste into the search box

Capture from PhraseExpress below.  Since the search strings are in a table a triple click highlights the cell.  Pretty straightforward, Triple click - Ctrl+C - F6 - Ctrl+V - Enter.  So hover over the search term in the table, hold Alt and press the right mouse button and the phrase activates. 

ScreenClip.png.076775e7e6f81b2484d9ba809cde151b.png

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