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productivity Using EN for To Do/GTD - Am I asking too much?

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I think I may be asking too much from EN to use it as my To Do/GTD system.

As a little background, I've tried most To Do apps - Things, OmniFocus, The Hit List, Taskpaper, Remember The Milk etc. So far, Remember The Milk and Taskpaper seem to have worked out quite well. I'm also in the process of trying to dump as many apps as I can (I have far too many) and shifting as much as I can to Evernote.

I already use Evernote for the usual web clips and I scan just about every bit of paper I receive. I also use it for project management to a large degree and for keeping a journal, making use of things like IFTTT to automatically send stuff to EN so I can keep a record of where I've been and what I've done.

I'd love to use EN as my To Do list. I've tried various systems mentioned here on the forums and elsewhere on the web (such as The Secret Weapon). I believe all of the systems I looked at are pretty good - if you're sat using a desktop client all the time.

I probably spend at least 50% of my time without access to my laptop/desktop, so I'm reliant on a good solid mobile experience (iPhone and iPad in my case). The Remember The Milk iOS apps are great for this, especially with their "quick entry" system. Contrast this with adding a new task to Evernote for task management (assume I'm not already in my "task note" for the purpose of this example):

  1. Tap Tags
  2. Tap the Tag I created for my To Do
  3. Tap the Note where I want to add my new Task
  4. Tap the icon to enter Edit mode
  5. Enter the new Task
  6. Click Done
  7. Wait for the Save to complete (can take an age on 3G)
  8. Watch in panic as the whole note goes blank before it does a re-load

And sometimes (as was the case last night when I was out on a walk and had an idea - I added it to EN on the go over 3G) it simply doesn't save, so the change was lost.

Contrast this with RTM:

  1. Tap the quick entry text area
  2. Enter the task
  3. Press Enter

All done.

Don't get me wrong. I think Evernote is the single best application I've ever used and, as a developer, I've used a LOT of applications :)

However, I feel I'm almost forcing myself to use EN for task management. Am I missing something? I even tried use a really simple list app to use on the go, and then copying the tasks to the right place in EN, but if I'm going to use another app anyway, I may as well

just use RTM.

Perhaps it's just because I really need a good mobile experience for quick entry and modification of notes, and the current version of the iOS app really isn't very good for that. It's excellent for day-to-day general use, but then it was never designed as a task manager, so perhaps I'm asking too much of it? Nobody's forcing me to use EN for this, of course, but it would be nice to be able to do so and get rid of one more app.

There are so many people here offering fantastic tips and suggestions, I'm hoping one of you may say "have you tried..." :)

Any news on the rumoured official Evernote To Do implementation?

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Any news on the rumoured official Evernote To Do implementation?

No, never. Except that it's coming "soon" (as of late 2009).

I'd give more advice, but I don't use a mobile device, so I can't help there. On the desktop, I used Evernote for all my GTD until Metrodon recommended WorkFlowy, which is where all my tasks and projects are now.

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Any news on the rumoured official Evernote To Do implementation?

No, never. Except that it's coming "soon" (as of late 2009).

I'd give more advice, but I don't use a mobile device, so I can't help there. On the desktop, I used Evernote for all my GTD until Metrodon recommended WorkFlowy, which is where all my tasks and projects are now.

LOL re the release date :)

Yeah, it's definitely the mobile element that's killing it for me. Over the weekend, I'd set it all up nicely and was very happy with what I had. Then the situation arose where I wanted to add something to my list whilst out and about and the scenario above popped up, at which point I realised how poor a system it is when relying on mobile. If I had my laptop with me at all times, I'd use EN, but I don't, so I don't.

Workflowy is fantastic but again it suffers from a lack of a proper offline mobile app. It works well enough in mobile Safari on iOS, but that's no good when you don't have a signal. It's amazing how often that is, too. I use RTM etc LOTS when out shopping etc to see if there's anything I need to get whilst I'm out, so it's no good to me if I'm going to get an "Unable to load page" error.

No matter, we'll get there in the end :)

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Looks like you want to quickly add stuff and also process and organize it at the same time. I keep those processes separate.

You could use separate notes for each task/anything and just collect everything into inbox and then process and organize everything later instead of looking for a specific Tag, then a specific note, then editing it (this is inefficient and time consuming workflow to begin with, not an Evernote flaw).

If your biggest problem is just speed then you could use FastEverXL or default mail app to add notes. I use FastEver to quickly add stuff into inbox.

I could set up a full GTD system in Evernote regardless of platform and it would work really well. You're not asking too much.

However I prefer a combination of Evernote and Omnifocus.

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Looks like you want to quickly add stuff and also process and organize it at the same time. I keep those processes separate.

You could use separate notes for each task/anything and just collect everything into inbox and then process and organize everything later instead of looking for a specific Tag, then a specific note, then editing it (this is inefficient and time consuming workflow to begin with, not an Evernote flaw).

If your biggest problem is just speed then you could use FastEverXL or default mail app to add notes. I use FastEver to quickly add stuff into inbox.

I could set up a full GTD system in Evernote regardless of platform and it would work really well. You're not asking too much.

However I prefer a combination of Evernote and Omnifocus.

Adding stuff isn't really an issue, it's editing that's the problem. I don't have one task per note. I find that too cluttered, although it does have advantages when using a desktop client. So, I have one task per line in a single note with checkboxes. Trying to edit this when on the go over a 3G connection can be a very frustrating problem, if not actually impossible (as was the case yesterday).

Another issue I have is that I have a requirement for repeating tasks. No matter which why I set up doing this in EN, it's a pain, so I end up using a third party app to do them. If I'm going to that, I guess I might as well just use it for all tasks.

Omnifocus is a lovely piece of software. However, as with every single one of these type of apps I've tried (and I've tried and paid for way too many), it has annoyances that drive me away from them. With OF, it's seeing stuff due tomorrow on the count of stuff due "soon". It's such a simple thing to code to only show stuff due today (or at least give me that option), but oh no, you're gonna get the next 24 hours whether you like it or not. You may be able to change this on the Mac version, I'm not sure. I tried it and it looks just too 1980's for me. However, the iOS versions are otherwise fantastic, but not fantastic enough to get me over seeing a count of stuff to do when I haven't got to worry about them until tomorrow!

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Nothing is really a problem IMHO.

Adding stuff isn't really an issue, it's editing that's the problem. I don't have one task per note. I find that too cluttered, although it does have advantages when using a desktop client. So, I have one task per line in a single note with checkboxes.

Editing is unnecessary, that's the whole point. If you insist on using your workflow (i.e. adding tasks by editing notes) then it'd be inconvenient in Evernote for many reasons. My point is that if you adapt/tweak your workflow then you can make it much more streamlined and efficient, that's all. It's your choice. 

I find adding multiple tasks to a single note too inflexible. Ideally in GTD you'd want to organize/review tasks by multiple criteria, e.g. context, project, (start/due) date. If you're going to add multiple tasks to a single note then you kind of loose this ability (or make it very inconvenient to say the least). You kind of loose some of the main benefits/convenience of a digital system.

I'm not using Evernote to manage GTD actions and projects (actionable data). But I could do it if I had to, it'd just be less convenient than using Omnifocus. Lack of due dates and repeating projects/actions are the biggest issues but there are also other advantages in using Omnifocus.

Here is what I'd do to implement GTD in Evernote though (in short): 

keep each "next action" as a separate note and add "next action" tag to them

add contexs and projects as metadata to "next action" notes

make a note which would list all your project tags (optional)

Make a note which would list all your due dates for actions and projects (optional)

That's pretty much it. That's probably the shortest manual ever about implementing GTD :D

Basically you just organize notes with metadata and then filter/sort however you like. That's really all there is to it, technically.

If you're uncomfortable with that then I don't see how you would efficiently organize any other type of information which has multiple attributes.

My point is - there's really nothing special about implementing GTD in Evernote.

In a bit more detail:

* keep each "next action" as a separate note

* add "next action" tag to "next action" notes. (Of course you could also just write "next action" in titles but it would just take more time)

* add contexts to titles of "next action" notes. This would allow you to conveniently filter/sort and review your "next actions" by contexts when you sort notes by Title. (Don't use Tags because you can't sort notes by Tags on many platforms)

This would work almost exactly the same as Omnifocus or any other gtd app, and, frankly, I don't find it cluttered at all.

It would look very similar to this view in Omnifocus. I could replicate it in Evernote and show a side by side comparison but hopefully you get the idea anyway. Just sort "next action" notes by titles in Evernote and they would be sorted by contexts.

7252499964_d8f1d20573_b.jpg

* add project names as tags to "next action" notes. This would allow you to review your "next actions" by projects.

* make a note which would list all your project tags (optional). This would allow you to review and organize all of your projects in a single place and also organize projects/project support hierarchically into projects and sub-projects, or categories and sub-categories which is otherwise impossible on iOS.

* Make a note which would list all your due dates for actions and projects (optional). This is far less convenient that using apps like Omnifocus which automate this stuff but it would still get the job done. 

To review all your "next actions" just search for "tag:next action" and sort by title and they would be sorted nicely by contexts (and even sub-contexts if you want to use them)

To review your "next actions" by projects just review your note which lists all your project tags/sub-tags. To review "next actions" or project support for any particular project just copy/paste project tags into the search bar, e.g. search for "tag:discussed stuff with Bella" to see all "next actions" and project support for this particular project. Search for "tag:discussed stuff with Bella tag:next action" to see only actions. Search for "tag:discussed stuff with Bella -tag:next action" to see only project support. Etc.

This would probably be the most efficient way to setup GTD in Evernote which would work regardless of the platform.

Sure you'd loose some features like automated due dates, repeating projects and etc. but it'd just be your personal choice. Do what works for you. I personally don't find it worth it.

With OF, it's seeing stuff due tomorrow on the count of stuff due "soon". It's such a simple thing to code to only show stuff due today (or at least give me that option), but oh no, you're gonna get the next 24 hours whether you like it or not.

I don't understand the problem. I find Forecast mode to work exactly as you want it to, you can review actions and projects due by a certain date

here is an example

7252435760_35293416d3_b.jpg 

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To review all your "next actions" just search for "tag:next action" and sort by title and they would be sorted nicely by contexts (and even sub-contexts if you want to use them)

To review your "next actions" by projects just review your note which lists all your project tags/sub-tags. To review "next actions" or project support for any particular project just copy/paste project tags into the search bar, e.g. search for "tag:discussed stuff with Bella" to see all "next actions" and project support for this particular project. Search for "tag:discussed stuff with Bella tag:next action" to see only actions. Search for "tag:discussed stuff with Bella -tag:next action" to see only project support. Etc.

This is Kinda my point: search for this, search for that, copy/paste. With RTM (or OmniFocus for that matter), I can just tap Today or House or Work and I'm set.

The searching/tagging etc is terrific on the desktop clients, but, frankly, I can't be bothered to go through it all on my iOS devices. I have all my notes offline on my iPhone and iPad, but almost only use them for searching for a document.

Re OmniFocus, the thing that really got me was the icon counter! It'd be sitting there telling me I had 10 things to do, so I'd go take a look and 9 of them would be for tomorrow. I'm not interested in tomorrow's stuff until tomorrow becomes today. To me, that's the whole point: forget about until you have to get it done. As far as I could tell, you could only restrict OF to treat "soon" as (at the minimum) 24 hours. It needs an option for "Just Today" (IMHO). I know I can switch the icon counter off, but I want it on, but showing only stuff due Today.

All horses for courses, of course. The ideal system is the one that works for you :)

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This is Kinda my point: search for this, search for that, copy/paste. With RTM (or OmniFocus for that matter), I can just tap Today or House or Work and I'm set.

I just provided an example of how you could do GTD in Evernote in an efficient way and on any platform.

I mean, your proposed workflow was:

Tap Tags

Tap the Tag I created for my To Do

Tap the Note where I want to add my new Task

Tap the icon to enter Edit mode

Enter the new Task

Click Done

Wait for the Save to complete (can take an age on 3G)

Watch in panic as the whole note goes blank before it does a re-load

I provided an example of how to do this in a lot less steps, i.e.

to add new stuff:

launch FastEver

enter new task

tap save

This is **a lot** faster comapared to what you're doing. This is as fast as it gets actually. No other app would beat this.

To organize next actions:

launch Evernote

tap on inbox notebook

edit any note and add context and project as metadata.

(I don't see any problem with adding tags/metadata on iOS)

To review next actions:

launch Evernote

tap Saved Searches

tap "next actions"

to review projects:

launch Evernote

tap Saved Searches

tap "active projects"

This isn't a terrible amount of work in my view.

Yes you would have to search for stuff (but there are also saved searches and search history) and sort/filter and copy/paste sometimes (not often) , it's not a big deal in practice in my view.

If that's still not good enough then don't use Evernote to manage GTD and use a dedicated GTD app instead. This is what I'm also doing myself.

Comparing Evernote directly with Omnifocus and expecting the interface to be as good specifically for GTD is not reasonable.

It could work well... But Evernote is obviously not as convenient for GTD compared to a dedicated GTD app. It's just not designed for this.

Some people want to do GTD in Evernote, some prefer to use the best tool for the job and use dedicated apps. Both choices have their pros and cons. Both could work well. It's up to you to choose one or the other.

All horses for courses, of course. The ideal system is the one that works for you

Personally I can make pretty much anything work for me, there is no ideal system and I don't really have to rely on any specific tool in particular. The tool matters only when you really know what you're doing

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Good points. I agree it's a good system for ADDING data, but I'd still have my issues when EDITING data on the move.

Not to worry. I spend more time trying different To Do apps than actually doing stuff, lol! Incidentally, Things has received a refresh today across iOS devices and the Mac beta. Looking good!

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Yeah, well editing notes on iOS is clunky because of the delays and etc. The separate "edit" mode is the biggest bottleneck.

That's just how Evernote works...

It has been discussed many times in different threads, here is one recent thread for example

It's not even GTD related, it affects all use cases. Hopefully Evernote devs would pay attention to this stuff... :)

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Hi there! I'd like to add my two cents to this post. This question, not surprisingly, has come up so many times before. As many know, since I wrote the eBook on how to use Evernote as a full-fledged GTD system, I use Evernote for everything - both todos and reference related materials. That being said, I know that one size does not fit everyone's productivity systems. Everyone works different and everyone has different workflows. Here's my biggest recommendation to you and what I tell so many of my clients: What few things must absolutely go right in order for you to have a productivity system that will make you more successful? I typically follow that question up by asking: What has not gone right in the past? What challenges have you had?

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to take a giant step backwards and think about what would your system look like if it were completely analog? Would it be a folder for @calls, a folder for @emails, a folder for @waiting for, and an A-Z folder system for reference related materials? Would you have 43 folders for every month and each day of the month? How would you process your information in a non-digital world? The reason why this is so important is because one must master the process before mastering the tool. If you can figure out how to do that successfully, learning how to do it in Evernote will be simple!

I truly hope that helps!

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@danielegold, great points. I really like this advice.

The system should be designed based in your particular needs instead of just around some specific app. Basically you're kind of suggesting to apply the Natural Planning model to design the system, i.e. "what's the successful outcome?", "what do I need from my system?", etc. This makes perfect sense and applies to designing anything actually, not just GTD.

I also think that the real issue in this case is managing GTD completely on a tablet/mobile(not desktop) in the quickest and most efficient way possible with as little taps and as little manual work as possible.

As I've said in my previous posts Evernote could actually work well for this as long as you know what you're doing...

but if someone wants the most efficient and convenient task manager possible without any comprosises then Evernote is just not the right tool because the interface and functionality is not designed specifically for task management.

Also it's very easy to split the system and keep actions and projects in a dedicated task manager and everything else in Evernote. Actionable and non actionable data is supposed to be organized separately in GTD anyway to begin with.

It doesn't have to be this or that, you can combine Evernote with an app like Omnifocus and get the best out of both worlds.

I think in future we'd just have some app similar to Evernote Food, Hello, etc. but only for task management which would integrate with Evernote. You'd still want to switch between Evernote and this additional app so the possible advantage over Omnifocus(for example) and Evernote combo would be minimal in practice but if done well it could still be usefull.

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Thanks for all the useful input, folks - some truly useful tips here.

On the one hand, I can see some benefits to a 2-system approach, but on the other, my head's finding it tricky getting around using 1 application for some of my To Do's and another application for the rest, as my brain is complaining at having to look in 2 different places.

I guess my real issue in this scenario is that I've never really adopted true GTD. Whilst I'm sure it's a great system for many (it must be, otherwise it'd be long gone by now) it just doesn't seem to work for me. I think that's because either a) I really don't have that many ToDo's (I wasn't kidding when I said I spend more time trying To Do apps than I do Getting Things Done) or b ) I haven't fully grasped it! I'm happy to concede it could be either.

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And Daniel did not say this, but I will say it for him, if you really want to use Evernote for GTD get his book. It is grossly underpriced and a manual for exactly how to set up the system

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I love GTD. I like Evernote. I hate most of the 'ToDo' apps that claim to do GTD because you can add contexts and such. In reality, there will not be a killer GTD app until some developer figures out that every phase of GTD is quite unlike the others and can present to the user an interface/experience that shows that. Don't make me clarify when I just want to capture, for example. What Evernote has going for it, is it's everywhere. I can IFTTT from Google Reader. I can forward email that has an action required. I can sort and organize on my desktop, view on my iPod or WP7. Nice stuff. But it is not very good at Next Actions for people on the go. That's why many people are craving some ToDo type integration, so that when something is 'done' you can check it off, not edit, remove tags, change folders, etc. (The WP7 app desperately needs an updat, by the way.)

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Well, in the meantime, despite my misgivings mentioned above, I've gone and purchased OmniFocus on the Mac, as it's currently 50% off :)

I already had it on the iPad and iPhone, so it made sense. Trying it out now, but will definitely return to looking at using EN for my ToDo system once (if) stuff like Due Dates are introduced.

Thanks for all the feedback, folks. Plenty of food for thought.

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@Psionmark - It sounds like you've finally settled on a tool (at least for now). Good!

Be mindful of spending time searching for, choosing, using, and switching between tools. This takes real time, and it's typically time that one could actually spend, you know, getting stuff done. I've worked with many people over the years who, in my opinion, overfocus on the tool and the system, to the expense of task completion. Just my two cents!

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Joshua that is great advice, i have eliminated my 4 tools I used use for my real estate transactions and have moved them all to one tool, amazing how much time that saves.

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Be mindful of spending time searching for, choosing, using, and switching between tools. This takes real time, and it's typically time that one could actually spend, you know, getting stuff done. I've worked with many people over the years who, in my opinion, overfocus on the tool and the system, to the expense of task completion. Just my two cents!

Yep, totally agree - see my initial post :)

I think I've settled comfortably on OmniFocus for now - I will look again at EN for this purpose at some point in the future, but will of course continue to use it for almost everything else.

Truth is, I'm a tinkerer as far as software is concerned, so I just like trying new stuff.

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@danielegold, great points. I really like this advice.

I think in future we'd just have some app similar to Evernote Food, Hello, etc. but only for task management which would integrate with Evernote. You'd still want to switch between Evernote and this additional app so the possible advantage over Omnifocus(for example) and Evernote combo would be minimal in practice but if done well it could still be usefull.

Sounds like EgretList (which evernote bought, though I was already using it before they did).

Haven't seen it iterate since the purchase yet. It needs an iPad version, a little more optimization for entry, plus a little je ne c'est quois. In that, I mean it's easy to work with an edit existing lists, and reasonably easy to create new ones.

However it doesn't work for items that have no checkboxes. That's a problem when I capture items in the browser plugin, or the Outlook plugin, or emailed in items. They end up in the inbox, but I need to process them in Evernote before they sync into Egretlist. It would be nice to have some fashion of a mode toggle that would let me process Evernote inbox (default notebook) items and quickly add action points into the reference material, rather than the two step process now.

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For GTD I followed Ruud Hein's suggestions to the letter and found it AMAZINGLY WELL THOUGHT OUT

ruudhein.com/evernote-gtd

At first I didn't understand GTD and all he lingo and thought a lot of Ruud's method too much, but after reading up on what GTD was, I eventually realized Ruud's method using evernote so well thought out and I trusted there was a reason behind everything he did -- so I set it up just like his and it turns out he put amazing brain power behind this and there IS a reason for everything he has. With his saved searches he recommends, you get all your context tasks segregated. I love it

I found you have to do your planning from your desk top as evernote's mobile apps aren't good for setting up a lot of new tasks. You can certainly save a new thought, or a new task on the fly, but you will need to clean it up at home later, but once you got it from home, using the mobile device and check boxes to "compete" tasks out in the field turns out to be amazingly simple, your phone is a great way of accessing what needs to be done using the saved searches for the right Context you are in.

Keep your GTD notes very simple text only (if you can), try not to load it up with attachments as they load so slow sometimes if your G connection is bad

Multi - step projects, use a check box for each step and put the project on one note, using tags to add the context. Seriously complex projects I might break up into multiple notes but I found a note for each "Next Step" a bit too much.

Using Ruud's method, everything has a checkbox. if it is unchecked it's live and active. If it's checked, the note get's taken off your searched list

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I am still figuring out how to integrate GTD and EN myself, but my initial impression is that the OP may not be truly following the GTD process. One of the cornerstones of GTD is separating the capturing process and the processing process. By saying he wants to edit notes on the go and add things to his various lists when he has an idea, I think he is combining the two. When walking down the street or driving in a car and we have an idea, this is not the time to add it to a list or work it into an existing project. The only concern is capturing it to process later. I will share my current evolution of the GTD in EN as a way to illustrate.

-I only have two notebooks, one called "Inbox" and one called "Everything"

-"Inbox" is exactly what it sounds like. It is my dumping place for everything. It is my default notebook, so any new notes automatically go into it. If I forward an email to EN, it ends up in my inbox. If I am walking down the street and have an idea, I just tap the "audio note" button on my EN widget (Android) and record my thoughts. The voice note automatically goes to "inbox." If I clip something from the web, it ends up in "inbox."

-Then, when I sit down to do my processing, I look at everything in my inbox and decide where it goes. It is at this time that I decide if I need to add it to some existing note, put it on a list somewhere, make it reference material, etc.

My main point here is that "editing" a note or adding something to an existing note should be done when you have the time to sit down and think about it. Not on the go.

Just my thoughts and if you ask me again in a week they may change, but this is where I'm at right now.

Jason

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My solution to this is to use Evernote in a GTD manner, but not to make it the sole source of organisation.

I tag stuff in Evernote as "@action", "@waiting", "@incubate" and my own tag of "@could-do", and use this as an input to an actual to-do list that then is either written or as a separate note in EN depending on how I feel. Or, more often, just scan the tags and do that and not do an actual Next Action list at all. A page will typically correspond to a project, in reverse chronological order, with the Next Actions at the top and tags being changed as needed.

Some pages can end up with multiple tags. So the "Andy's Land Rover" page has "@incbuate", and an action to renew brake pads/discs before end of september", "@waiting for", to check the diagnostics once I get the firmware upgrade done, "@action" for the outstanding things that need doing and @could-do for fitting some second-hand accessories that have been in the garage for about a year now! Whenever I'm action-oriented or reviewing, I'll see the appropriate tags and look at the page.

The "@could-do" tag is used for stuff relating to hobbies - it's more likely to happen than "someday/maybe" but doesn't carry the imperative of "@Action" that I should get up and do it! I.e., stuff I could do if the mood takes me, and should get done time time, but has no real imperative for action.

I'm not exactly a model of GTD Black Belt behaviour, though - I don't follow the book religiously, but have adopted the ideas that work for me.

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I too was looking for the best way to integrate GTD and EN. Right now - this is where I'm at:

http://www.thesecretweapon.org

I'm still looking for Apps that can do it well and automate aspects, but it's a good starting point. For that matter, I'm still trying to wrap my head around GTD as I had a different, but powerful, system I've been using for years. I think somehow merging the two is working for me and The Secret Weapon offers the flexibility of control I needed - along with strong GTD functionality.

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Personally I've been using Wunderlist until Evernote comes out with something better (updated) than myEN. I do love it though...they're going in the right direction, but it's time for the next step. I have too many apps as well. I want everything in Evernote.

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So since my last post to this thread I've looked into TheSecretWeapon...took me about 2hours to organize my Evernote account to what it is now--but it definitely is a start to GTD. I'll be deleting Wunderlist just as soon as I've transferred all my tasks from that platform to Evernote. Super excited.

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I've returned to evernote for my task management after spending some time using Nirvanahq.com which is a really great app, but doesn't have the EN intergration that I want. Plus I want just one solution. After looking at lots of methods and setups, I've settled on the approach that makes the most sense for me. My goal is simplicity. I don't want to have to constantly edit tags and move things around.

My notebooks are as follows:

@Inbox <-default

@Tasks <- stack

1-Next

2-Later

3-Waiting

4-Someday

Completed <- this is where completed tasks get dragged to. It is outside the @tasks stack so it doesn't show in searches.

home <-- for reference

work <--- for reference

Tags are just my usual tags. For example "kids" "recruiting" etc. This way reference material and tasks have the same tag system

Contexts are just @home @work.

To me computer, phone etc contexts are pointless.

Some search examples

All work tasks: stack:@tasks tag:@work

All home next tasks: notebook:1-next tag:@home

Sorts

The key to my set up is sorting. In the EN desktop app, I sort by notebook in list view. In the Mac version, notebook didn't show up until I right clicked on the sort bar and selected it. I then drag "notebook" to the left hand side so that the first thing that appears in the list view is the notebook that the task is in. By sorting on notebook I get

1-Next Task A

1-Next Task B

2-Later Task C

3-Waiting Task D

If I want to see all home tasks (for example), I just click on @Tasks, and click on the @home tag, or use a saved search.

etc

Email

I use EN email to send stuff to the Inbox, but I use the "Send and Archive" button in gmail (found in Labs) so that I just have to click once and the email is out of my inbox and on its way to EN. Sweet.

Workflow

I process stuff in the @inbox notebook, and assign tags. I then change the notebook to either a task notebook or a reference notebook. Stuff with due dates get a due date added to the title of the note.

When a task is completed, I just drag it to the completed notebook.

Iphone

On the iphone, I view notebooks by stack, and I view notes by notebook, this means that the tasks are always sorted by notebook, which is my task order.

Other apps

I've come back to evernote for my version of GTD after a long tour of other apps. Here are my brief thoughts on some of them.

Nirvanahq.com - a really nice site. Simple, quick and effective. My fave, but EN integration was limited and you couldn't tag emails sent to it.

IQTELL - I messed with this for a short while. I found the interface cluttered and fussy with too many options. It was also a bit slow. Might be fine for a hard core task manager.

ActiveInbox - works on gmail as an add in . Pretty simple, the "Send and Archive" button was by favorite bit - but now you can get that in gmail labs. The app crashed a lot and was rather messy at times.

Omnifocus - I use both mac and a PC - I need cross platform

Wunderlist - weak EN integration

RTM - I hate the interface - weak EN integration

Nozbe - overpriced, fiddly.

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Gatorbrit I too have been wanting to have EN be my GTD task manager..have tried most of the apps on the market and have been testing The Secret Weapon and Nirvana...love nirvana but do not like having to enter tasks in two place add link to EN note etc...Will look at your set up as way to go.. TSW takes too much time to manage instead of getting things done...one clarification for me...how do you view notebooks in stacks on IPHONE? Not sure if I need to change a setting or something... Thanks

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Although I have a fairly simple system of GTD I have been looking at the videos of The Secret Weapon. It has taken me a while to work out that this may be a very simple method of keeping up with a lot of different tasks I seem to end up with.

Will carry on going through the very well put together videos and Manifesto before totally making my mind up.

Best regards

Chris

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Finished watching the videos and go to say this is a very good system. It won't work 100% for me, but I can implement some of the very useful methods into my current operation system.

My key question is 'why'! Why did these guys do it and what is in it for them?

Regards

Chris

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Finished watching the videos and go to say this is a very good system. It won't work 100% for me, but I can implement some of the very useful methods into my current operation system.

My key question is 'why'! Why did these guys do it and what is in it for them?

Regards

Chris

LOL. I had the same, exact question. I dug around a bit, and thought about it, but could not come up with an "angle." I think they just wanted to make the system and get it out there for other people. Amazing, right? They don't even push the drink (Braintoniq) that is behind the site. I don't get it, but I think it is cool that they are helping so many people get organized.

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.how do you view notebooks in stacks on IPHONE? Not sure if I need to change a setting or something... Thanks

To view stacks on the iphone, select the notebooks button at the bottom, the select the little "i" in the top left. Then click "Sort by stack".

Then click a notebook to view - in that view, click on "View options" and select "Notebook"

Because I have my tasks organized by notebooks, they then appear nicely sorted in order in evernote. Finally seeing how to do this was really the eureka moment for me.

The other key part of my set up is again using the desktop app and sorting by notebook in list view. This makes it super easy to see what task are in what bucket.

It's taken me quite a while to figure this out, and I've messed with other setups, but for me this way of doing things works great. I don't have a lot of projects, and at any given point in time I may have a total of 25 tasks in my system spread across the various buckets. I imagine for someone managing complex multi part projects that require delegation, then a more complex solution like omnifocus would be better.

Finally, one other thing I like - sometimes I will have an action created and I get another piece of information related to that action. I either put it in the reference folders and link to the note from the task note (a Daniel Gold tip) or a I will merge the new item and the old task into one note.

post-59254-0-09553100-1346274984_thumb.j

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but I think it is cool that they are helping so many people get organized.

Agreed, while I think that TSW is a great approach, it was a little too fiddly for me. Still kudos to them for getting it out there and introducing the concept of using EN for GTD to many people.

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I'm a long-time user of Evernote and I've been on and off the GTD bandwagon more times than I'd like to admit. Here is what I've tried and wanted to do.

I've tried almost all the GTD standards out there like Things, RTM, Toodledo, tracks.tra.in, Appigo Todo, MonkeyGTD, and even the beta of Zendone, which was built to be a GTD solution for Evernote. In most cases, I found the interfaces to be too disjointed from my own workflow. Actually, the one thing that seemed most intuitive to me was MonkeyGTD, which is a self-contained HTML file with the best organization and connection of realms, next actions, contexts, etc, but the fact that it did not work on every device was a complete showstopper for me. Since it's all self-contained, it could fe saved to Dropbox, but opening it mobile was challenging. What I liked best about it was the way I could do my weekly review.

Essentially, what I've settled on is Appigo Todo on iPhone, iPad and Mac. I refer to content in Evernote with links, but really, that's not an integrated GTD system in Evernote. I like how Appigo Todo works, though I don't like the way they don't separate Next Action tasks on projects. The other thing that really kills the GTD usefulness of Appigo Todo is the lack of a weekly review process. There's not a good way to do it.

This past week at ETC, I asked around about the future of Egretlist and though I was able to talk about my own needs for a todo app in Evernote, I got the feeling that delivery of an official Evernote app for todos is pretty far from becoming reality. I like the ideas behind tools like The Secret Weapon and Zendone, however, they both require jumping through quite a few hoops and change of a lot of my practical workflow right now. I am very interested to interact with others on this topic though and keep my fingers crossed for an eventual Evernote officia app.

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I think that if evernote could add a "due date" field that could be sorted then we'd be 99% there. The the lack of be able to easily add due dates is the big stumbling block I think. Having said that, I respect the fact that EN has deliberately kept the basic setup as application neutral as possible, and I shudder to think of it becoming bloatware with hundreds of features that I never use (did any one say MS Office?).

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Hi All,

Having finished the videos and given it some deal of thought I think I can use a little of what TSW explains and build it into my current workflow.

I have mentioned it before but here is an overview of what I currently do:

Every day a new note titled as per GrumpyMonkey's simple dating system is added to the folder 'Diary - 2012'. Today is '120830'

As telephone enquiries come in I type straight into the note adding a tick box and line.

As emails come in they are copied and added to the current day with a tick box and line.

As I work on each task I type in red what I have done. If I need information or a quotation from a supplier I type the information or email in green. Then copy any documents/quotes into the that part of the note.

Once a quotation has been raised I tick off the 'tick box' after adding the quote number to that part of the task also in red. At the moment I don't copy the quotation to the note, but am thinking it might be a good idea.

Once a day has all of it's tick boxes completed that note is moved to the folder 'Diary - 2012 Completed'

I have used this system for work since 2007, originally in OneNote, moving over to EverNote just under a year ago. It allows me to search for anything, name, company, product and find out exactly what I did back then. Since moving over to EverNote as I really wanted cross platform usability I have found the ease of working through my days has been superb.

The only thing I found myself doing is ending up with a lot of 'days' still in the live diary section due to having unticked boxes. This is down to being unable to get hold of people, or they are not getting the information for me, or indeed it has just slipped down the diary too far. The later is very bad and due in the main to me not going through my diary on a regular basis. With this in mind I have added from TSW tags for Now, Next etc along with a few other ideas from their system. I have made the decision to break from a very long tradition in my business to not work in the evenings. I will now spend a little time once or twice a week going through my diary and re categorising 'days' by importance.

Of course the slight failure of the system will be seen that I can have maybe 20 or more different tasks in one day. Meaning I have to scroll down the list to find the un-ticked box. The alternative would be a huge and unmanageable database whereby I start a new note for every enquiry. So for now I will stick with scrolling. Starting every day with a click on the 'Now' tag.

Thanks for all the information you guys and gals keep putting up. It makes for good and useful reading. Oh and I have now bought and downloaded on my iPad Getting Things Done by David Allen. This is a book that somehow passed me by, so thought I better catch up fast!

Best regards

Chris

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Hmm,

Forgot to say in all of that above that I already deal with emails as they come in. Some automatically going to specific folders. So I have ones for photography, land rover, evernote, BMW, ebook etc.

Any that need acting on get put into a folder called 'To Be Done'.

Once they have been copied to EverNote they are put into a folder called 'Being Worked On'.

Once completed they are then put into a folder called 'Quick Save To Max'. Max is short for Maximizer which is my contact management database. Every now and then from within Maximizer I go to a section that allows me to select the 'Quick Save To Max' folder and it will automatically save any emails directly to the people whose email addresses are within my database of about 15,000 contacts. The email is then, again automatically, put into the deleted folder within Outlook.

Regards

Chris

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Hi All,

I am disappointed! Why haven't you told me about this awesome book 'Getting Things Done' before! And I thought you were my mates!

Joking aside this book is taking me back to my roots. I used to do all of this automatically as a young man. But over the years I seem to have got stuck in a rut and find myself being what Dave Allen talks about. Every page I turn I see another bad trait, the piles of magazines by my side of the bed or by my chair in the living room, unopened and of course unread. The papers on my desk at home and at work which have been there too long.

For some years I have believed in going back to basics and indeed have taught it at various levels and styles as a consultant and manager. Here I am going back to basics with a book that is I agree poor in it's grammar, but who cares. The style of writing and ease of putting the message over makes this book a must read for anyone and everyone who has to organise, well anything.

Thanks for putting me on to it via TSW. I feel a new me coming on at 58!

Best regards

Chris

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Hi all, i like the way Ruud Hein structures his searches but am having trouble getting the numbers of the tagged notes to show in the search area. no (#of notes) and no grayed out search items if no notes tagged. Don't get me wrong, the search shows the notes correctly, just doesn't show the count of the appropriate notes like in his screencap.

I'm using the windows desktop client. Am I missing a feature or something?

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You are not missing a feature. The search counts went away around Evernote 3.5 I think. Bit of a shame really.

I like Ruuds method but I think adding a check box adds a layer of work to my workflow. Hence method detailed above.

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I've been putting TSW into action for myself through necessity--my previous app, portableEPIM, is disjointed and sometimes blocked by client networks from loading off of my flash drive. Plus, it doesn't sync and therefore is not on my phone. But I'm having a problem with the EN phone app. I have a saved search in the desktop EN. It searches the "Pending" notebook for the tag "6-weekend" and filters out the tag "finance" by using "-finance" in the search bar. Running it today on the desktop I have five notes/tasks displayed. Running it on the phone, my results are "No notes were found". Anyone have an idea why this is so? The phone app is difficult to use for TSW it seems to me, because it has limited methods for displaying things. If I look at the Pending notebook, I see every task, which is really useless. I may have to resort to using a separate notebook for Now, Soon, etc., which negates some of the fluid nature of using tags for organization. Any thoughts?

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I use separate notebooks for now, soon etc. See my post above.

The reason was that it makes it much easier to navigate from list to list by just clicking on the notebook.

I think that TSW is good, but it has some weaknesses,

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As I mentioned on another post. I recently created a todo manager for the iPhone since it seemed there wasn't a simple way of managing this. I have plans of making it universal and releasing a mac version as well depending on how well it does.

Here is the link if anybody is interested. Its named EverTo-Do

http://itunes.apple.com/app/everto-do/id556483892?mt=8

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@Gatorbrit, I really like your set up but could not see how you work with projects? Could you give some guidance on that?

For projects, I just use tags - but I don't have to worry about the sequencing of the project. So I don't really have an application of a complex projects. Most of my projects are just random tasks that have a common theme.

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Hi, like I've written in another topic. I (or rather we, as there are 3 of us) have developed an app that should be a good solution for Evernote and GTD. You are all invited to www.everdo.it Tomorrow we will post new screen shots and we want to involve people in the process of developing new features. Should you need more on this topic, just email me karol@ft-point.com

Hope to hear from you,

Karol

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I'm new here, but I've been searching these forums for just the thing that psionmark asked for. A way to quickly add and manage to dos on an existing note on my iPhone.

I just purchased CheckEver for iOS and it does a really great job of just that. It simply displays any line with a check box fom any of my notes. I can add a new check list item to any existing list in two taps!

Just thought I'd add another idea for a solution to this thread as a forum is only as good as the posts it gets.

As a side note, I created an Evernote account several years ago and never really used it...primarily because it wasn't good at quickly managing to dos and I didn't quite get it. But just this year I started using OneNote at work and thought it was great at managing projects at the desk but it also doesn't do well on the go. Started searching again for a better solution and gave Evernote a try (again). I tried TSW for a about a week and just didn't like the idea of one note per task. I'm a big fan of GTD for collecting, deciding and processing stuff but prefer the list mentality of Michael Linenberger's MYN (Master Your Now). With the right tricks Evernote can do it all :)

Happy Organizing

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As something that is related, Apptreme Studio is happy to announce their latest Evernote Integration! 

 

Are you an Evernote user? I am sure you have encountered the following:
Keep your thoughts in Evernote to only find that you wont be able to get Evernote to auto retrieve it for you? 
Keep your notes in Evernote so that you can retrieve it for tomorrow, only to discover that you forget about it until the note is no longer useful
Input your notes about some location but only to remember about the note after you left the place?
While Evernote has a good and fast search engine inside it, it’s not really big on notification features - it does not pull your notes out and present it to you when you need it and where you want it. 

In fact, making To-Do’s and lists in Evernote is easy – but the hard part is getting them done. Often times, you need to open the app once or twice a day just to be reminded of things you need to do. With ERA, now you can!

Introducing ERA : Evernote Reminder App! ERA is the first of its kind all that allow you to set time-based reminder, location-based reminder or both!



With time-based Evernote reminders, ERA can inform you of a note of your choosing. It even allow you to create a recurring reminder so that you don't have to update them after the reminder is triggered, let ERA do the heavy lifting for you!

With location-based Evernote reminders, ERA can inform you of a note when you arrive, depart from your location of your choice. Example of good use for this is to have your shopping list pulled out when you reached the super mart or to retrieve your to-do list after you leave the office so that you can tick those task that you have done!

In built into ERA is the powerful search engine of Evernote, get your notes quickly using the search that you grow to love. 

ERA comes with a reminder list of all the Evernote reminders you have created.With this, ERA also doubles as a quick launcher for your evernote notes. The list is also separated the expired reminders from the active ones. This allows you to reschedule the expired Evernote reminders easily as they are filtered out.

So what are you waiting for? Get ERA today!

 

https://itunes.apple...d642134143?mt=8

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On 5/22/2012 at 5:38 AM, psionmark said:

 

I think I may be asking too much from EN to use it as my To Do/GTD system.

As a little background, I've tried most To Do apps - Things, OmniFocus, The Hit List, Taskpaper, Remember The Milk etc. So far, Remember The Milk and Taskpaper seem to have worked out quite well. I'm also in the process of trying to dump as many apps as I can (I have far too many) and shifting as much as I can to Evernote.

I already use Evernote for the usual web clips and I scan just about every bit of paper I receive. I also use it for project management to a large degree and for keeping a journal, making use of things like IFTTT to automatically send stuff to EN so I can keep a record of where I've been and what I've done.

I'd love to use EN as my To Do list. I've tried various systems mentioned here on the forums and elsewhere on the web (such as The Secret Weapon). I believe all of the systems I looked at are pretty good - if you're sat using a desktop client all the time.

I probably spend at least 50% of my time without access to my laptop/desktop, so I'm reliant on a good solid mobile experience (iPhone and iPad in my case). The Remember The Milk iOS apps are great for this, especially with their "quick entry" system. Contrast this with adding a new task to Evernote for task management (assume I'm not already in my "task note" for the purpose of this example):

  1. Tap Tags
  2. Tap the Tag I created for my To Do
  3. Tap the Note where I want to add my new Task
  4. Tap the icon to enter Edit mode
  5. Enter the new Task
  6. Click Done
  7. Wait for the Save to complete (can take an age on 3G)
  8. Watch in panic as the whole note goes blank before it does a re-load

 

And sometimes (as was the case last night when I was out on a walk and had an idea - I added it to EN on the go over 3G) it simply doesn't save, so the change was lost.

Contrast this with RTM:

  1. Tap the quick entry text area
  2. Enter the task
  3. Press Enter

 

All done.

Don't get me wrong. I think Evernote is the single best application I've ever used and, as a developer, I've used a LOT of applications :)

However, I feel I'm almost forcing myself to use EN for task management. Am I missing something? I even tried use a really simple list app to use on the go, and then copying the tasks to the right place in EN, but if I'm going to use another app anyway, I may as well

just use RTM.

Perhaps it's just because I really need a good mobile experience for quick entry and modification of notes, and the current version of the iOS app really isn't very good for that. It's excellent for day-to-day general use, but then it was never designed as a task manager, so perhaps I'm asking too much of it? Nobody's forcing me to use EN for this, of course, but it would be nice to be able to do so and get rid of one more app.

There are so many people here offering fantastic tips and suggestions, I'm hoping one of you may say "have you tried..." :)

Any news on the rumoured official Evernote To Do implementation?

They are a lot ui tasks that take 5+ more steps than necessary. .

Ill check out remember the milk

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1 hour ago, alwayzambitious said:

They are a lot ui tasks that take 5+ more steps than necessary. .

Ill check out remember the milk

Wunderlist might work for you as well.  My simplee use of Wunderlist is for shared a shared grocery list, but it has more power, not full GTD power though, IMO.

Personally, I still like having all my stuff in one place.  I use reminders and GTD tags with saved searches to manage tasks.  The IOS experience has improved the last year to the point where quick on the go note entry is much better (assuming EN is active on the phone).   FWIW

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