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Angelo

organization Notebooks vs Tags

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Hello everyone,

Although I have had my account for the past few months I would still consider myself new to evernote. I don't use it too heavily right now (only about 70 notes) but I am trying to organize it in the most efficient way possible. After looking online and following some videos and such I got the gist of it but am still not sure what should be a notebook and what should be a tag

Currently I have 3 notebooks (Personal, Work, Receipts) and then I break things down using tags (Project: Action, Delegated, Tentitive; Interests: Guitar, Photogrophy; etc...) Attached is a view of my notebook/tags and such. Receipts is my way of tracking my expenses.

Is this most effective way to organize?

post-83971-0-84282300-1327509448_thumb.p

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hello. welcome to the forum!

it looks to me like you have a system that works for you. my main suggestion is that you make your tags consistently singular or plural (easier to remember and prevents gremlin-like tag proliferation). i also tend to prefer single word, lower-case tags. however, this is probably just a lingering fetish from my web design days.

more broadly speaking, i prefer a little more radical approach by getting rid of notebooks (almost) entirely. i think there is something to be said for the power of naming. I have several thousand notes and have no trouble staying organized.

http://www.princeton.edu/~cmayo/evernoteresearch.html

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Thanks for the tips. I have changed a few things to reflect your suggestions.

Additionally; my whole system is split in to two separate vehicles:

  1. Any.Do (Android) is a widget "To-Do" app where I keep anything that can be completed rather quickly and effortlessly (ie. Buy cable from store, Increase RSP contribution, etc..)
  2. Evernote (PC, Android, iPad) is used for everything else from project action items to reference notes to financial organization. Now that I feel somewhat comfortable with my Evernote layout, I believe I can fully use these two systems to become more productive.

However I am always looking for improvement so if any there is any other thoughts, let me know

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I also use a seprate app for actionable items. I wrote about how I organize all non actionable data in evernote here

It explains how I organize stuff in evernote in all cases, i.e. whenever there is a need for more structure than just flat lists of notes.

However I should add that a lot of stuff, e.g. general reference doesn't really have to be organized much because you can just rely on search. E.g. Any word in a title and body of a note already works similar to a tag...

Related thread

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Just throwing this out as a possible alternative setup - if what you use now works, then stay with it.

Interests

Int-Guitar

Int-Photography

Int-Technology

Life

Lif-Finance

Lif-Learning

Lif-Other

Projects

Pro-Action

Pro-Completed

Pro-Delegated

Pro-Tentative

Reference

Ref-Reader

If you want to see all projects, search for tag:Pro-*

If you want to see all completed projects, search for tag:Pro-Completed

If you want to see all not completed projects, search for tag:Pro-* -tag:Pro-Completed

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If you want to see all projects, search for tag:Pro-*

If you want to see all completed projects, search for tag:Pro-Completed

If you want to see all not completed projects, search for tag:Pro-* -tag:Pro-Completed

Noticed that original poster had the project tags reversed, e.g. Completed.Project. They should consider reversing them to fit jbenson's scheme, which makes that kind of search work...

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There is reasoning to my madness regarding the order of words of the tags:

College.Learn = quicker assignment of tags to notes by typing 'col'

Learn.College = Better order but more action to assign tag as i would have to type 'learn.c' or use the arrow keys to select the right tag on the quick menu.

I haven't come to a need of requiring to see all project notes but would evernote allow the use of a wild card (ie; *.project) ?

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Ok i just tested the last comment and it works so it doesn't look like i've lost function of search with the order of words in the tags

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Just tossing in my two cents: Until I hit about 5000 notes, I kept most of my "personal" notes in my default notebook, had another notebook for most of my "work" notes, and had only one or two other notebooks for very specific categories (one for letterboxing, for example, and another for a big case that was going to trial). Once I hit the 5000 point, I found that it was difficult to keep my default notebook synced offline on my iPhone -- that single notebook was well over 2Gb, and it was unwieldy. Now I've broken it up by date created (pre-2011, 2011, 2012) and created a new "Inbox" as my default notebook. All four (plus my work notebook) are still synced offline on my phone, but it seems to work more smoothly and searches complete more quickly.

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I am probably travelling in to the hornets nest with this one but...

Do you really need all those notes? Do you read them all? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to archive (extract) those you no longer view or read? I am only at 70 notes so obviously I don't know from experience but personally I maintain the mentality that 'if i don't need it, get rid of it' For example, I will clear out my receipt notebook eventually down the line and completed/old project items and such.

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Hello everyone,

Although I have had my account for the past few months I would still consider myself new to evernote. I don't use it too heavily right now (only about 70 notes) but I am trying to organize it in the most efficient way possible. After looking online and following some videos and such I got the gist of it but am still not sure what should be a notebook and what should be a tag

Currently I have 3 notebooks (Personal, Work, Receipts) and then I break things down using tags (Project: Action, Delegated, Tentitive; Interests: Guitar, Photogrophy; etc...) Attached is a view of my notebook/tags and such. Receipts is my way of tracking my expenses.

Is this most effective way to organize?

When I asked similar questions, I was told to use EN and see how I liked using and organizing. it.

So, I did some web research and clipped articles about EN setups.

What I came up with is this:

There's a trade-off between the amount of organization you put into filing stuff and the amount of time it will take you to get it back out of EN when you need it.

Notebooks hold informtion that is related at some high-level, Tags help organize what's in the notebooks and also help with organizing the information horizontally across notebooks.

Take a look at this thread about why less organization may be better than more:

You might web search "GTD" or "Getting Things Done" and also "43 Notebooks" - after searching for awhile, I found those seemed to find the most useful stuff.

If I can offer the most useful piece of advice given to me, it is this: Don't create some elaborate GTD system, or any other elaborate organization structure. If you do, you'll spend all your time keeping it organized and trying to remember how you actually intended for your organizational scheme to work."

I decided to share my Using EverNotes folder in the hope it might help people get a quick start.

https://www.evernote.com/pub/geoffstaples/usingevernote#b=a10792e5-8041-4f90-b123-fa5f86a18010&n=7da6e219-215d-44ef-a220-e17d60eba093

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I am probably travelling in to the hornets nest with this one but...

Do you really need all those notes? Do you read them all? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to archive (extract) those you no longer view or read? I am only at 70 notes so obviously I don't know from experience but personally I maintain the mentality that 'if i don't need it, get rid of it' For example, I will clear out my receipt notebook eventually down the line and completed/old project items and such.

On the contrary, I found pretty quickly that I used EN more the more I put into it. EN is my archive, as well as my "current" file, and one I have full access to all the time, on any device. I may not need all of these notes, but I have no way to know which ones I'll need or when, and because there's effectively no cost to the storage and they're all immediately searchable, there's no reason not to hang on to them. In practice, I am frequently surprised by just how many times I do find myself pulling up an older note that I'd forgotten I had but which comes up as a search result.

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I am probably travelling in to the hornets nest with this one but...

Do you really need all those notes? Do you read them all? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to archive (extract) those you no longer view or read? I am only at 70 notes so obviously I don't know from experience but personally I maintain the mentality that 'if i don't need it, get rid of it' For example, I will clear out my receipt notebook eventually down the line and completed/old project items and such.

i think that if you want to clear out your notes and archive things somewhere else to get rid of unnecessary stuff, that is certainly one strategy, and evernote is perfectly compatible with that approach. you won't get stung by this hornet!

speaking as a digital hoarder, though, one of the things that attracted me to evernote as a premium member was its ever-expanding storage space. as long as i faithfully stick everything i have into this one location (evernote) i can be sure that no matter where i am i can access everything. this is quite liberating, especially if you travel a lot.

having gone paperless, i can confidently say that everything i own is on my external hard drive (eventually, it will get transferred to evernote, 1-2gb each month). for everything this year, if i cannot find it in evernote, then it doesn't exist. no need to look around through my files, dig through drawers of papers, or dump out the file cabinet looking for "that" receipt. one search and i know.

digitizing everything and putting it in evernote also makes serendipitous discoveries possible. just today i came across my notes on an interview i had 5 years ago. fascinating reading, and some of the information in it turned out to be quite useful in my current project. you just never know what you will need.

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....

speaking as a digital hoarder, though, one of the things that attracted me to evernote as a premium member was its ever-expanding storage space. as long as i faithfully stick everything i have into this one location (evernote) i can be sure that no matter where i am i can access everything. this is quite liberating, especially if you travel a lot.

having gone paperless, i can confidently say that everything i own is on my external hard drive (eventually, it will get transferred to evernote, 1-2gb each month). for everything this year, if i cannot find it in evernote, then it doesn't exist. no need to look around through my files, dig through drawers of papers, or dump out the file cabinet looking for "that" receipt. one search and i know.

digitizing everything and putting it in evernote also makes serendipitous discoveries possible. just today i came across my notes on an interview i had 5 years ago. fascinating reading, and some of the information in it turned out to be quite useful in my current project. you just never know what you will need.

I'm not as far along as you are, but that's what I'm working towards. And I've had the same experience with serendipity -- it's amazing what you can turn up once you start really tossing everything into EN.

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I am probably travelling in to the hornets nest with this one but...

Do you really need all those notes? Do you read them all? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to archive (extract) those you no longer view or read? I am only at 70 notes so obviously I don't know from experience but personally I maintain the mentality that 'if i don't need it, get rid of it' For example, I will clear out my receipt notebook eventually down the line and completed/old project items and such.

Only you can answer that question.

I have over 10 years of email archive which contain important information.

I move stuff I don't want in my working set into an archive notebook and delete nothing.

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To revert back to the scope of the post;

It's obvious that the world of organization today has started leaning more towards tags than folders. This has its obvious advantages and I think that it is something that I have come to adopt within EN.

Keep notebooks at a high-level view and then use tags to be more specific. I feel that this will work for me for now. Obviously this will have to be revisited once I hit the 500 note mark as volume will dictate the ease of use.

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Keep notebooks at a high-level view and then use tags to be more specific. I feel that this will work for me for now. Obviously this will have to be revisited once I hit the 500 note mark as volume will dictate the ease of use.

i am glad to hear things are working for you now. my own feeling is that tags have nothing to do with hierarchies (high-level or low-level) or specificity (general or not). that is, of course, one way to think of them. and, it is one way to use them. but, the tags themselves are "flat" keywords. in my opinion, that's what makes them so powerful.

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I think this is attributed to the fact that there is no set scope or definition of what a tag is. At least I didn't see one. So people will use tags in ways that best suit them. The downside is that it takes some time to find your best use of the tags if your new to the concept.

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I think this is attributed to the fact that there is no set scope or definition of what a tag is. At least I didn't see one. So people will use tags in ways that best suit them. The downside is that it takes some time to find your best use of the tags if your new to the concept.

According to Evernote, "Tags are pieces of text that are attached to notes to help describe the note's contents" (https://support.evernote.com/link/portal/16051/16058/Article/623/An-Introduction-to-Tags). Even if you have a handy definition like this one, like you said, it takes a while to adapt your workflow to the feature. The good thing is that Evernote has lots and lots of flexibility built into it, and there is no "right" or "wrong" way to use it.

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I can understand the way it introduces tags in that manner. I would like to see if I can get it to work but since I already have my setup in a hierarchical fashion. I don't want to go through a fashion of changing everything. Maybe since I have only 70 notes, I can create another account as a sandbox area to test out the different ways to use tags. Like you said, I am using tags as a hierachy for organizing my notes...I would be interested in finding other ways as well as compare them to find out which works best.

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nothing wrong with using them in a hierarchical manner. no need to redo it all ;)

sometimes the way we use something or define it keeps us from seeing a feature's full potential. that's all.

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I think this is attributed to the fact that there is no set scope or definition of what a tag is. At least I didn't see one. So people will use tags in ways that best suit them. The downside is that it takes some time to find your best use of the tags if your new to the concept.

To which I would say... (emphasis mine)

It's important to understand that Evernote isn't a toy, it's a serious tool, and that any tool you use will require close and careful study to be most effective.

IMO, if you've ever had to organize papers, it's a stepping stone. People (IE young teens) who have never had an organizational tool in play (ever) and are learning not only the app but the process of organizing are probably more overwhelmed than those of us who are used to organizing paper & have simply migrated to the electronic/digital format. Anyone who's had to organize paper knows organization doesn't just magically happen. You have to lay down some rules. IE, in your paper system, is the phone bill stored under "C" for cell phone, "T" for Telephone, "P" for phone or "V" for Verizon?

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I think this is attributed to the fact that there is no set scope or definition of what a tag is. At least I didn't see one. So people will use tags in ways that best suit them. The downside is that it takes some time to find your best use of the tags if your new to the concept.

According to Evernote, "Tags are pieces of text that are attached to notes to help describe the note's contents" (https://support.ever...duction-to-Tags). Even if you have a handy definition like this one, like you said, it takes a while to adapt your workflow to the feature. The good thing is that Evernote has lots and lots of flexibility built into it, and there is no "right" or "wrong" way to use it.

Tags are useful when the organizational keyword is not contained within the notes or when searching on that keyword would pull-up too many unrelated notes.

If you can write a search in which the results set is sufficiently accurate, you don't need a tag. If you need access to this information often, save the search. If you cannot write an accurate search, then you need to tag the information.

When I do research for a client, I tag the notes with that customer's name, ot a task or project name because there's no way to craft a search which would pull up those notes without a lot of other notes and putting each customer in a separate notebook isn't a good strategy.

Tagging and notebooks both require that you organize the notes when you put them in the database. Searching allows you to find things that you didn't organize when you inserted the notes or when you want to find notes in a manner different from the way you anticipated when you decided in which notebook to store the note and which tags to assign to it.

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I think this is attributed to the fact that there is no set scope or definition of what a tag is. At least I didn't see one. So people will use tags in ways that best suit them. The downside is that it takes some time to find your best use of the tags if your new to the concept.

To which I would say... (emphasis mine)

It's important to understand that Evernote isn't a toy, it's a serious tool, and that any tool you use will require close and careful study to be most effective.

IMO, if you've ever had to organize papers, it's a stepping stone. People (IE young teens) who have never had an organizational tool in play (ever) and are learning not only the app but the process of organizing are probably more overwhelmed than those of us who are used to organizing paper & have simply migrated to the electronic/digital format. Anyone who's had to organize paper knows organization doesn't just magically happen. You have to lay down some rules. IE, in your paper system, is the phone bill stored under "C" for cell phone, "T" for Telephone, "P" for phone or "V" for Verizon?

"B" for "bill", "U" for utility bill, or "H" for household. ;)

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I can understand the way it introduces tags in that manner. I would like to see if I can get it to work but since I already have my setup in a hierarchical fashion. I don't want to go through a fashion of changing everything. Maybe since I have only 70 notes, I can create another account as a sandbox area to test out the different ways to use tags. Like you said, I am using tags as a hierachy for organizing my notes...I would be interested in finding other ways as well as compare them to find out which works best.

If you decide non-hierarchical tags would be better, you can select all the notes in a hierarchy and assign a tag to them in one action.

There's no need for a sandbox because it is so easy search or select notes and them tag them or move them into a different notebook.

This ability to impose organization or change the organization of your notes at any time is one of the most powerful features of EverNote.

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all good points. i agree about not needin a sandbox.

with consistent names, my account pretty much organizes itself. of course, as bnf said, therein lies the rub. naming is a subtle art.

searching itself is an organizing tool in evernote, and i rely heavily on it as a filter.

tags can help too, but i don't find them to be necessary. i find notebooks even less so. but, that's my system. i'm glad evernote has the flexibility to work many ways.

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This is a very interesting debate and one that still puzzles me.

For a long time I have tried to keep items in a similar fashion as a filing cabinet electronically. So my quotations and letters go in a folder with the following structure/folders on my hard drive:

Word - Folder (created with)

SWI - Sub Folder (My company)

2012 - Sub Folder (Year quotation created)

1204A What the document is. Name of company. Name of person quoted.

So it has become natural for me to do the same in Evernote.

Key folders for Work, Photography, Diary.

Sub folders for Important suppliers in Work

Sub folders for different aspects of my Photography

Sub folders for the year and completed diary sections

More will of course follow as I build on my database

At this stage in my Evernote career I am happy with this structure. I still cannot see any real benefit for Tags. After all if a customer phones up and asks me to look at quotation Q101454 then I can search for this and find it instantly along with my notes on our conversation and any other dicussions with suppliers, pricing etc. I cannot have a tag for quotes - many thousands of these, or customers names - 15,000 of these. Or supplier, products etc. But I can search by any one of these criteria and be sure to find something within a few seconds or maybe a little more if the data I am given is not narrow enough.

The instant way I can drop into a folder for say my most important part of the day which is my diary is simple. As well as clicking on the sub folder called 2012 Diary, I have a short cut on the toolbar. So whatever I am doing, if a call comes in, I click on the 2012 Diary in the toolbar and I am ready to take notes.

Based on reading some great advice on here I moved over to naming my days in a simpler method which helps with the listing within a folder. So today is of course 120126. As I was born 57 years ago I am unlikely to see the next century so my notes won't get confused by the year 3000!

So in answer to the OP and from another newbie trying to ease Evernote into my daily life, I think it is about finding what works for you. As already mentioned Evernote seems to allow the simple changing of the way you work with little effort so it does not matter if you catch yourself doing it wrong in the early days.

Best regards

Chris

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This is a very interesting debate and one that still puzzles me.

For a long time I have tried to keep items in a similar fashion as a filing cabinet electronically. So my quotations and letters go in a folder with the following structure/folders on my hard drive:

Word - Folder (created with)

SWI - Sub Folder (My company)

2012 - Sub Folder (Year quotation created)

1204A What the document is. Name of company. Name of person quoted.

So it has become natural for me to do the same in Evernote.

Key folders for Work, Photography, Diary.

Sub folders for Important suppliers in Work

Sub folders for different aspects of my Photography

Sub folders for the year and completed diary sections

More will of course follow as I build on my database

At this stage in my Evernote career I am happy with this structure. I still cannot see any real benefit for Tags. After all if a customer phones up and asks me to look at quotation Q101454 then I can search for this and find it instantly along with my notes on our conversation and any other dicussions with suppliers, pricing etc. I cannot have a tag for quotes - many thousands of these, or customers names - 15,000 of these. Or supplier, products etc. But I can search by any one of these criteria and be sure to find something within a few seconds or maybe a little more if the data I am given is not narrow enough.

The instant way I can drop into a folder for say my most important part of the day which is my diary is simple. As well as clicking on the sub folder called 2012 Diary, I have a short cut on the toolbar. So whatever I am doing, if a call comes in, I click on the 2012 Diary in the toolbar and I am ready to take notes.

Based on reading some great advice on here I moved over to naming my days in a simpler method which helps with the listing within a folder. So today is of course 120126. As I was born 57 years ago I am unlikely to see the next century so my notes won't get confused by the year 3000!

So in answer to the OP and from another newbie trying to ease Evernote into my daily life, I think it is about finding what works for you. As already mentioned Evernote seems to allow the simple changing of the way you work with little effort so it does not matter if you catch yourself doing it wrong in the early days.

Best regards

Chris

There's no reason to change if it is working for you, but you have the additional organizing features of EverNote if you EverDecide to use them.

I think that's why EverNote is so popular.

all good points. i agree about not needin a sandbox.

with consistent names, my account pretty much organizes itself. of course, as bnf said, therein lies the rub. naming is a subtle art.

searching itself is an organizing tool in evernote, and i rely heavily on it as a filter.

tags can help too, but i don't find them to be necessary. i find notebooks even less so. but, that's my system. i'm glad evernote has the flexibility to work many ways.

I use one tag per client to identify todo's, research, etc. for each client. I do this because many of these notes don't actually mention the client's name.

Do you add keywords to your notes to make sure you can find them when you search?

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There's no reason to change if it is working for you, but you have the additional organizing features of EverNote if you EverDecide to use them.

I think that's why EverNote is so popular.

HI Hostricity,

I cannot see with the way I am currently working how Evernote can give me additional organizing features. However, I am very keen to learn about them if they work better than the methods I currently use.

The criteria will always be about saving time and effort of course!

Best regards

Chris

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I suppose that, in the end, using tags as a hierarchical organization or using them otherwise really doesn't matter. What matters is if it works for you and you've tested that its the best solution then that's your answer. Everyone is different. What I would have liked to see when first starting out is some examples of notebook & tag schema based on varying situations (for the student, for the parent, for the non-executive office worker, etc...) I think this would have helped put a stake in the ground a lot faster.

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i agree. it took me a while to get it, and get it in a way that worked for me. i think in evernote's use cases on their blog they could use more screenshots of the accounts and discussion about how it works.

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