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(Archived) Using Evernote for GTD - help / advice needed..

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I have just started using Evernote for more than a general reference of my notes. I am trying to use this as a task management solution and have been reading posts based on David Allen's GTD.

I have also just started to read his book so I guess I am doing things a little back to front, however I have done a setup and as a result I have the following questions / advice that I needed:-

I use the Windows Desktop application, along with iPhone and iPad apps for convenience of remote working.

I have the following setup:-

1 x Notebook with the following:-

TAGs

Contexts I have:-

@Agendas

@Calls

@Errands

@Home

@Internet

@Read/Review

@Someday/Maybe

@Tickler

@01-Jan

through to

@12-Dec

@Waiting

@Work

I also have the following general tags:-

!Completed = stores nested tags of completed tasks and projects

Active Projects = stores nested tags of home and work projects

General Reference = Nested General notes that are subject specific

I have the following custom searches:-

!Active Tasks = Everything with a @* tag

!Inbox = Everything that doesn't have a tag

@#### = Various contexts that match the above context tags, for example @Home

@Work Active = All @Work notes that are not @Waiting - this then give me all my tasks that are active at work and I am not waiting for

I used all versions of Evernote to collect and drop them directly into my Inbox. I then use a Custom Search to show me everything that isn't TAGGED, therefore this is the COLLECT. At a time convenient I then (from my PC or iPhone/iPad) run the custom search and tag accordingly.

My specific questions are:-

1. On the PC, my Custom Search for !Inbox shows everything that isnt tagged. When I assign a tag using the PC and preview of the note this instantly moved as its no longer a note without a tag and then itsn't displayed for me to continue tagging. I find this frustrating as I wanted to add several tags. The only way I can find to get around this is to open the note and not use it in the preview window. It doesn't do this on the iPhone and iPad Custom Searches. Has anyone else experienced this and how did you over come it?

2. On the PC version I can nest tags to keep them more organised, however on the iPhone or iPad apps this is completely ignored and only flat tag structure is shown. Is there a way around this or am I doing the nesting wrong?

3. Both my iPhone and iPad apps crash a lot. this seems to be mainly down to the fact that if I have been using it on my iPhone and then close the app (although multitasking keeps it running), and then later I go back into it. It appears to start a sync and then crashes out. This doesn't happen all the time but it is certainly visible. I have deleted and reinstalled the app several times on the device and it still does it. Does this happen to anyone else? Are Evernote aware?

4. My @Work context is getting very large and I am not sure of the best / most efficient way to address this to do list. I did decide to create a custom search that excludes anything I have flagged as @waiting to reduce the amount of tasks I need to look at but I am interested to hear how you guys are using or managing this???

5. How do people who follow GTD prioritise? As my @Work has loads of tasks in it I seem to keep having to review the whole list to pick out what I need to do as a priority. Surely this takes additional unnecessary time? I know I need to finish the book but I am keen to get this setup so would appreciate your comments?

6. Also I store work and home projects in Evernote. At the moment I call my work Project ".ProjectName" and my home projects "..ProjectName" so they are all grouped together. I could stick these in a nested tag like "Work Projects" and "Home Projects" but then this won't be shown as nested in my iPhone and iPad app - see point 2 above.

I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

Thanks in advance

Mark

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I have just started using Evernote for more than a general reference of my notes. I am trying to use this as a task management solution and have been reading posts based on David Allen's GTD.

There are lots of posts in the forum about using Evernote for GTD. You should try searching the forum for these, and it may give you some insights.

1. On the PC, my Custom Search for !Inbox shows everything that isnt tagged. When I assign a tag using the PC and preview of the note this instantly moved as its no longer a note without a tag and then itsn't displayed for me to continue tagging. I find this frustrating as I wanted to add several tags. The only way I can find to get around this is to open the note and not use it in the preview window. It doesn't do this on the iPhone and iPad Custom Searches. Has anyone else experienced this and how did you over come it?

Yep, that's the way it works, on the Windows client at least (don't know about the Mac). Saved searches serve to filter your note database, and if you create a note that doesn't match the filter, then it's not shown. Sounds like that's the case for you. To add several tags all at once, use the Assign Tags operation: select one or more notes and press Ctrl+Alt+T (or right-click and select "Tag Note(s)...").

2. On the PC version I can nest tags to keep them more organised, however on the iPhone or iPad apps this is completely ignored and only flat tag structure is shown. Is there a way around this or am I doing the nesting wrong?

Limitation of the iPad client, I believe. Not sure whether it's planned to remedy this.

3. Both my iPhone and iPad apps crash a lot. this seems to be mainly down to the fact that if I have been using it on my iPhone and then close the app (although multitasking keeps it running), and then later I go back into it. It appears to start a sync and then crashes out. This doesn't happen all the time but it is certainly visible. I have deleted and reinstalled the app several times on the device and it still does it. Does this happen to anyone else? Are Evernote aware?

You should file a support inquiry for crashes. You can also check the iPad/iPhone forum and you may find other users with the same problem.

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Here are some links that will help give you a lot of insight into using GTD with Evernote. Once Evernote releases its version with a Due Date field (to handle items in the future), Evernote GTD will become even more of a hot topic.

http://www.40tech.com/2009/08/25/getting-things-done-gtd-in-evernote-with-only-one-notebook/

http://examinehealth.com/personal-productivity/69-gtd-and-evernote.html

http://ruudhein.com/evernote-gtd

http://chanceandcary.blogspot.com/2008/11/evernote-and-gtd.html

http://mentalpolyphonics.com/posts/howto-get-things-done-with-evernote

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1. On the PC, my Custom Search for !Inbox shows everything that isnt tagged. When I assign a tag using the PC and preview of the note this instantly moved as its no longer a note without a tag and then itsn't displayed for me to continue tagging. I find this frustrating as I wanted to add several tags. The only way I can find to get around this is to open the note and not use it in the preview window. It doesn't do this on the iPhone and iPad Custom Searches. Has anyone else experienced this and how did you over come it?

I would suggest not having the inbox as a tag but as a notebook where everything you collect is sent. You can do this by creating a notebook and making it default, so that everything you clip or send from anywhere automatically falls into the inbox notebook (you don't have to tag everything !inbox, just capture and move on), you can then tag them with multiple tags and when you're done change it from the inbox notebook to where it belongs.

I only use two notebooks, everything else is done with tags. The notebooks are unsorted (default inbox) and sorted (where everything processed and tagged resides). So everything that is tagged goes into the sorted notebook, (references, next actions, projects, someday/maybe, tickler and waiting for)

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Thanks for all the replies...

I do have another senerio that I wanted to see how you all manage in your GTD process.

Senerio:-

I had a task to place an order for a gadget. I set a context tag of @home, @Internet. I then reviewed my @home context due to being at home and it reminded me to place the order. I went to the website to order and found out that it is not yet available until Nov 2011.

With this new information what should I do, should I:-

A, change context tags to add @Nov, @Someday/Maybe and remove @home and @Internet as it don't want it clogging up @home and @Internet until I can do something about it

Or

B, leave the @home and @Internet as these are still relevant and just add @nov and @someday/maybe

I feel that senerio A keeps things cleaner and easier to view but I feel that I may be doing it wrong.

Let me know your thoughts?

Mark

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I had a task to place an order for a gadget. I set a context tag of @home, @Internet. I then reviewed my @home context due to being at home and it reminded me to place the order. I went to the website to order and found out that it is not yet available until Nov 2011.

What I do is cheat the Evernote system and use the Create Date as the Due Date. In your scenario, I would use Nov 01, 2011 as the create date, but not change the tags. In the note section, I would add the date for when I ordered the gadget, and a date for when I received the confirmation of the expected ship info.

There are some drawbacks with this method, so I created some workarounds to help streamline the process.

After Evernote releases the "Due Date" column, the entire process will be much easier.

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What I do is cheat the Evernote system and use the Create Date as the Due Date.

I hope that for your sake, and for the sake of others who use the same workaround, that when Due Date arrives in all of its glory, that there's a way to copy the Created Date to the Due Date for selected notes, so that people can get on the onto the true path without troubles.

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Out of my 10,600 notes, there are 85 notes with future dates in the Created column. So, even manually copying from Created to the Due Date column won't be any problem.

Once the Due Date column is up and running, I will use future dates more frequently.

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Any ETA on due date column?

Here are a few comments over the past couple years from CTO Dave Engberg and CEO Phil Libin on Evernote's plan for Due Dates.

http://forum.evernote.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=45&t=27304&p=115431#p115431

Phil Libin sent me a twitter back in February saying the Due Date feature would "definitely be coming soon".

http://forum.evernote.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=22489&p=97774&hilit=twitter#p97682

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So until the due date is available any more recommendations on how to prioritise GTD? Is it recommended to have additional tags like Priority 1, 2 and 3 etc and tag key docs with the associated priority tag?

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There are several ways you can achieve prioritization.

You can use TAGS, i.e. "important" "critical" etc. and search for notes with this TAG.

You can also use naming schemes in note titles, something like:

! important note

* important note

This will force your notes to the top if you sort alphabetically.

Many ways to skin the animal.

Wern

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I think using the * symbol could bring up a lot of unintended issues if using it to search.

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I have another senerio question around Evernote and GTD:-

So I have a task that I need to do from Home (so I tag with @Home). The task isn't something I want to worry about now, so I have flagged it as @Someday/Maybe. With my tagging like this whenever I am at home and review my @home context I always see it listed. I don't really want to worry about it yet but can't help doing as its always visible under @home.

Which is the best way to address this:-

1. Remove the @Home tag and leave it under @Someday - but doesn't this then mean its not tagged correctly as this is a task I have to do from home?

or

2. Create a Custom Search called @Home Active and exclude @Someday/Maybe (i.e. tag:@Home -tag:@someday/maybe

Or are there any other recommendations?

I look forward to your suggestions.

Thanks

Mark

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The second approach is probably more efficient. It lets you find your notes in all instances.

Do the search with the no. 2 option above, give it a name and save it as "saved search". In the future it is only one click (using the Saved Search) and you do not need to type in the full search terms again.

Wern

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Sorry to rain on the parade but just because Evernote can be twisted to support GTD it does not mean that it is the correct way to do it.

Task management needs a task manager. In my case that is Remember The Milk.

The correct way to do GTD can result in almost religious wars. e.g. This recent RTM Tip of the Week.

Ignoring the issue of GTD versus whatever, the tip is well worth a read because it shows the tools available within a task manager that will probably never be available within Evernote.

That said, Evernote still has a part to play. RTM can keep supporting notes/details for tasks, but, it is not it's strong point. Evernote is excellent at that task. Solution. Use the new Evernote note link feature and store the note link in the RTM Task url attribute.

My 2cents.

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Well, different strokes for different folks.

EN CAN be made into a GTD system if one so desires. EN is flexible and with the right combination of TAGS and notebooks it is not difficult to set it up.

You are right in saying that EN was not designed to be a GTD app. But this does not mean it cannot serve as a simplified GTD system.

Anyway, RTM is probably better suited for GTD, it was designed to be a task manager and therefore lends itself better to GTD.

But the most important thing is DOING what you have set to do and that can be achieved both with EN and RTM (or any app of that nature).

Jmho

Wern

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But the most important thing is DOING what you have set to do and that can be achieved both with EN and RTM (or any app of that nature).

Amen.

I do use the check box facility in EN in addition to everything else.

In my case it is used to identify items which require an action.

Sometimes it is just something that needs to be followed up on with no known completion date.

e.g. Find a bug in EN which has been posted to the forum.

- Clip the bug report and add a check box which stays unchecked until the bug is fixed.

- Create a new RTM task "Test ... release" when a new release is available.

- Use a saved search to find open items to retest when a new release is available.

- The sourceurl in the note quickly brings me back to the correct forum thread.

e.g. Found a list of top 50 Blues albums. Have a long term project of acquiring all of them. I clipped the list to EN and added checkboxes to each album in the list to keep track of the items which have been acquired. Previously I would have used a DOC or Spreadsheet to keep track.

Sometimes it is something with a specific due date.

e.g. RTM task to "Pack for trip to ...". EN note with checkbox list of items to pack.

Bottomline. I don't expect any one tool to do everything, but, I do gravitate to tools which do a lot of things. Evernote is one of those tools.

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