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alibehzad

(Archived) Evernote as GTD

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Hi,

my name is Ali, i'm a medical doctor from germany doing a postdoc at the University San Diego California right now.

I've been using Evernote for 2 years now and since 1 year as a premium member.

Through Evernote i was able to organize my life much more efficient and plainly and i'd like to share some thoughts that might help you too.

Before Evernote, i used the Outlook tasks with the due options to sort my errands. I also tried a lot of different GTD (get things done) software but i ended up not using them as the outlook tasks together with the calendar were plain but efficient.

After i started using evernote for fun snapping websites here and there and taking screenshots i realized that it was a good addition so i used evernote as a parallel application for my things to remember and GTD. However, having two systems was kinda redundant but evernote had no real alternative for a task managment system. I also tried programs aNote and ecretlist but they didn't really ease my taks neither. Also, i stopped capturing every website i found interesting with evernote because i would have a lot of notes in my notebooks without any good organization and it would mess up my notebooks (although i had several for different topics).

So i started searching and found different user blogs and how they use evernote as a GTD. From all of those, i liked examinehealth.com (http://examinehealth.com/personal-produ ... rnote.html) best. But it was too complicated, you would still have to look through one note for one task. It made no sense, i wanted a list to quickly look through and yet have notes to go deeper when needed to. So this is what i am doing right now and it works great:

I have 2 to-do-list notes in evernote. One for work, one for everything else called TODO GTD and TODO GTD WORK. They look something like that

today:

-

-

-

-

groceries/to buy

-

-

-

contact/email to:

-

-

-

this week

-

-

-

this month

-

-

-

-

pending/ waiting for progress

-

-

-

-

short term

-

-

-

-

long term

-

-

-

-

Now you think, wow this sure looks stupid. But here is how it works: Once a week i look through this list and update it. Everything i have done and that needs to be processed by others goes to pending/wait for progress through copy/paste. At the beginning of the week, the todo for the day and week is made. The daily tasks are updated in the evening every day (takes seconds). Same goes for the work ToDoList which looks similar. After a while i noticed that apart from the today list, its good to have a grocery list and a contact/email to list.

Now how does that work with Evernote?

First, it is important to have EVERY message in evernote tagged - except for the 2 TODO-list and TODO-list WORK notes. Its not only useful for searches but it is essential for using evernote as a GTD.The tags can be anything (leisure, inspiration, travel, work, contacts, papers, medicine, health etc.)

Once you have tagged everything, you create an advanced search called INBOX by typing -tag:*

As all other notes are tagged, your inbox will only show the new things you uploaded and which are not assigend yet.

Now here is the powerful part: You see something interesting on the street? take a snapshot. You see something interesting on the web? save it to evernote.

You have received an email you have to answer to or need to read it later or make a task on behalf of it? forward it to your evernote emailadress.

You're in a hurry and remember something important? make a text note in evernote just for that even if its only a word. Have even less time? make a voice note in evernote

When you got time, look through your inbox: (David Allen GTD tipps)

- Either it is something you can do within 2 minutes, do it right away

- something you don't have the energy to or needs more time? --> put it on your evernote TODO list on today, this week or email to if you have to answer to an email

- something that might be interesting for later? Tag it (read later, inspirations, ideas or whatever you prefer)

- something that has a specific date and time? Save it to your synchronized calendar (outlook, google, mobileme, whatever)

- something that is assigned already or not worth keeping? Delete it

After you go through your inbox, it has to be empty except for 2 items that are not tagged: Your TODO-list-Note and your WorkTODO-list-Note

This way using your phone (iphone is best at the moment because of the offline-notebook feature), you just put into evernote everything that comes into your mind and you can forget it right after that and don't waste your energy remembering it.

The disadvantage this method has you would say that is has no time priority. But it has, it's just not as strict (today, this week etc.) and really sufficient. Also, it has a context system (groceries, email,)

The advantage for me in comparision to other GTD methods for evernote i've read so far is that you still have a quick list (like the oldschool handwritten note in your pocket) you can go through easily everywhere (put it on favorite notes on your phone) and see what you can do (for example when in a grocery store). It doesn't use the context tags so extensivley as others, but those context tags i've experienced make things more complicated.

Since i do that, i use evernote almost 10x or more a day just to put in "look up certain drug" or (buy batteries) and then i can just let evernote remember it for me.

Also, as a laboratory researcher, i organize my laboratory notebook entirely through evernote. It is amazing to work paperless, have figures, pictures, procotols, science papers and manuals all together in a neat and simple way. If you are interested, i can show you how i organize my notebook for research

If you have any suggestions or questions, don't hesitate to post something.

Ali

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Ali,

I like your GTD implementation within EN: your approach may be a good starting point for people who needs a simple way to organize their life.

However your system does not take into account (or I do not see how) "scheduled" and "due date" timed tasks which is crucial -to my eyes- in organising a workflow.

It is important to store tasks, to retrieve them easily, but it is also important that the "system" may help you organising your work by (*) sending you reminders

(*) automatically re-organising tasks after "due date" deadline, (*) presents you the planned tasks for today - the next three days ......etc

This kind of features exist in most of the GTD tools (Things_mac, RememberTheMilk, NirvanaHQ, Nozbe(*), ...).

For being a GTD user since years, I would not say that EN could become a GTD tool: I believe this is not its first goal and there is a lot of tools which do well the job.

But I definitively agree that your GTD implementation inside EN can help more than once simply organising their life: thanks for sharing it !

(*) just to say that Nozbe GTD system can share notes with EN.

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Hi Phillipe,

thanks for your feedback. It is true that i have no real time due implementation. I had that when i used microsoft outlook tasks and synched them. I would also get reminders and re-reminders (with agenda one for example). However, i noticed that instead of having a priority list by time, it is as effective to have the list today and this week (which means the next few days but not today). For appointments or things that have to be done till a specific time, i still use my calendar which synchronizes automatically and has reminders aswell. So after switching to this way i found out that the actual due time thing is not necessary to me and can be replaced by those.

Many good GTD applications are not on the cloud (Things Mac) - i find this a very crucial part of it.

I didn't try nozbe yet, it looks promising but is really expensive.

You pointed out right that for the average person getting his stuff done my implementation of evernote would work fine. For people having their life organized by the GTD system (with projects etc.), this is clearly not sufficient.

What GTD application do you use with evernote and why?

Ali

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After using RememberTheMilk a while, I found Nirvanahq (http://www.nirvanahq.com/) which fits my needs while being online.

However, I miss the possibility to connect in EN in these applications. (there is a feature request about this lack in their bugs system)

Things_mac is far the best desktop implementation

I work on many plateforms (Windows, Mac and Linux) and, as far as mac is concerned, on a mixed of new (Leopard, SL) and "old"

ones (Tiger and Panther): so clearly I need online GTD implementation.

And I agree with you: Nozbe is too expensive as far as its capabilities are concerned.

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Good system. I really like the everything on one page.

Here is the system I've implemented, from Ruud Hein. It works great.

http://ruudhein.com/evernote-gtd

It has an "Inbox" concept like yours.

Pro: it uses the checkbox / todo functionality built into EN.

Con: doesn't have the one page to rule them all like your system does.

I might try a hybrid.

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I've tried tons of different systems including Nozbe and Things. I'm now giving Egretlist a try (iPhone app) along with a bunch of saved searches within Evernote itself, and waiting anxiously for Egretlist's iPad app.

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After using RememberTheMilk a while, I found Nirvanahq (http://www.nirvanahq.com/) which fits my needs while being online.

Not being an iPhone user, I use RTM because it supports wap browsers, which Nirganahq does not.

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Hi hundsgemein,

I am curious about your use of Evernote as a lab notebook. Currently in my graduate work I use Microsoft OneNote and have found it quite useful, but would like to switch to a free alternative, particularly one that is more certifiable.

Does Evernote have a way to lock a page from further modification? I ask this because by many standards, notebook pages that can be easily modified after the fact are not acceptable as evidence (particularly in patenting). I'm in the life sciences, and found that often I am not required to do this, but it would make me feel more confident about what I am doing.

Best regards,

Aarrgh

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