• Announcements

    • Shane D.

      Evernote Business Beta - Spaces   12/20/2017

      We're very excited to announce the public beta of an upcoming rework for Evernote Business! To learn more, go Here
    • Shane D.

      2018 Evernote Webinars   01/04/2018

      To kick off the new year, we're excited to announce our  updated schedule for our series of webinars! Please check the events calendar to see which one works best for you!
    • Shane D.

      Upcoming Forum Change Announcement   02/14/2018

      Hi All! You may be seeing some changes with overall organization and layout of the discussion forums. You can learn more by going to the 'Upcoming Forum Change Announcement' in the 'Community Announcements' sub-forum!  
Extropy

The key to using Evernote as a to-do list

Recommended Posts

I just read this article: http://lifehacker.com/5982051/im-phil-libin-ceo-of-evernote-and-this-is-how-i-work and I have to take exception to Phil's own comment:

 

 
What's your favorite to-do list manager?

You know, I don't actually have one. I use Evernote, which isn't particularly great for to-dos yet.Yet.

 

I finally put my finger on why Evernote is such a phenomenal to-do list manager, at least the way I use it:

 

Instead of a list of things to do with no context, Evernote gives you all the information you need to complete the task right there, if you use it right.

 

Based on some concepts of GTD, and experience, here is how I keep myself organised in Evernote:

  1. All e-mails that need me to think about them for longer than 30s go into my default Evernote "Incoming" notebook (via redirect to evernote address - redirect puts less junk in the headers).
  2. If I have to remember something not associated with email, I add a short note (in Incoming) with the item in the title right there and then, usually on my iPhone. For example: "document grand unified field theory breakthrough". That's it - then forget about it.
  3. Religiously check the saved search "Incoming", which shows everything I haven't filed yet.
  4. File everything as one or more of the following tags: Now, Next, Later, Pending, Fixed Date, or if it is not something I need to do, put it in the "Notes" notebook.
  5. Retitle notes tagged "Fixed Date" to start with yyyy.mm.dd
  6. Keep two windows open on my Mac desktop all the time:
    1. Card View, sorted by last updated, descending, showing Now, Next, Pending or search results (shortcut keys cmd-1 through cmd-9 are great for navigating 9 shortcuts)
    2. List view showing "Fixed Date", sorted by title (puts the dates in the right order)
  7. Work through "Now", and move things up from "Next".
  8. Check "Later" when I'm bored being productive.
  9. Check "Pending" often. "Pending" is usually also tagged with someone's name and is often also a "Fixed Date". Move to "Now" or "Next" when I can do something on it.

The real beauty of this is that most of the information for each action is right there in the note, because they mostly come from emails. In other cases, I expand the note manually while I'm working on it, sometimes with checkboxes, links to other notes, external materials, etc. 

 

When I'm done, tag the note "Completed". If I ever want a log of when I did something, "Completed" sorted by date does the trick. I've noticed that notes tend to move roughly like this:


Incoming -> Next -> Now -> Completed

or Incoming -> Pending -> Completed

or Incoming -> Fixed Date & Pending -> Now -> Completed

 

The two key ideas that make this work are:

 

Don't think about things I have to do while I am doing one of those things.

Keep the information (or a link to it) I need to do each thing right there in the note.

 

There are many improvements that could be made to Evernote, but for managing to-do lists as above, there are only a couple of features that I would say I really need:

 

Shortcut keys for sorting (title, created, updated, ascending, descending)

Moving around the UI with the TAB key

Email links (mail://... to link back to a message in my email client when it is time to answer)

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I still think they (Evernote) should be in the market for To Do - whether in the base or as an integration with some other code. I'd have them buy Remember The Milk (which I also use).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I'm with gazumped. Yes, you can make Evernote work for to do lists with a lot of working around, but it still won't be a seamless as a tool designed from the beginning for that task. I use and love Evernote as my resource library, checklist and template holder, and to capture ideas, but I use other to do list systems (GQueues right now) to manage my to do lists and projects.

 

I use my software tools for what they excel at rather than trying to make one tool do everything.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I use Evernote as my to-do and "stuff" manager. I don't think my system for managing to-dos has as many parts as Extropy's, but it seems to work.

 

Evernote isn't a calendar or appointment book, and I don't think I want it to be. It's a tool for storing and organizing information -- and we can use it to manage our to-do lists how we want, rather than being locked into a particular method.

 

The only feature that comes to mind that would help me with to-do management would be the ability to do my date tagging with a calendar-picker interface. I could tag an item for next Thursday without having to look at another calendar to see that date.

Share this post


Link to post

I don't have a 'to do' software and in some ways I don't want one. 

 

For me the idea of running most of what I do in one place seems a far easier and simpler way of operating. I like Extropy's idea of making Evernote work for him. It is what I try to do with every bit of software I use, including Evernote.

 

Fortunately (or unfortunately if you are of gazumped's thinking!) I am probably dealing with over 200 things at any one time. This means as I tackle a task I don't need to spend any time on placing information in any other location than were it started. If that doesn't make sense, what I am trying to say, I only want one place to deal with my tasks. In some ways I do use Evernote as my to do, but not by applying a specific title to the task. The task starts in my diary Note, gets worked on and then once completed I can tick it off and it will then end up being archived.

 

My system, which I have mentioned before, is not necessarily perfect, but it seems to work. I am keen, as always to find simpler ways of making it work for me. With this in mind my Evernote experience evolves on a day to day basis. I read what others are doing and take a bit of info from here and an idea from there. 

 

If and hopefully when, Evernote introduce a to do function, it will be a great feature that I will warmly welcome. I have, you see had a quick look at a lot of the software that will add a to do function to my day, but it all seems like extra work. In that, I am with gazumped all the way. It needs to be easy!

 

Best regards

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post

If Evernote were to rev the ENEX format to support both calendaring and todo's that would be a good thing: Third parties (and maybe Evernote) can then build apps that use it.

 

Maybe it's already usable that way but my guess is semantics like structured dates in the body of a note are currently missing.

Share this post


Link to post

There actually is a somewhat hidden date field used in ENML: subject date. It's generally not available to Evernote UI users, though the Windows client knows about it (you can sort on it) and the search grammar supports it in the same way it supports created and updated dates (e.g. subjectdate:day-30). It's actually a note attribute, like latitude, longitude, source URL, etc. and it's available through the API, and it comes out in a .ENEX file, if there is a subject date attribute. Truth be told, I don't know how a note gets a subject date at all, but some of mine (a small percentage) do.

Share this post


Link to post

I still think they (Evernote) should be in the market for To Do - whether in the base or as an integration with some other code. I'd have them buy Remember The Milk (which I also use).

Oh careful now, they might EgretList one more useful app.

Share this post


Link to post

All, I have tied the AnyToDo app with Evernote.  AnyToDo is a good to-do list tracker and you can add items from Evernote to the to-do list app by tagging them with AnyToDo.  Only downside I see is that you still have to add the reminders from the AnyToDo app screen on your "i" device.

Share this post


Link to post

In Evernote I have each task as a note.   Then I share the note with @followupthen.  At the time I specify an email shows up reminding me.  If I code the share as a task it will send reminders until the task is marked complete.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

That's a similar service to followup.cc,  although I do like the 'share as a task' option..  Only drawback I can see for both of these is there's no way to add lists for urgent / soon / sometime tasks. 

 

I subscribe to the "get it out of your head and onto a list" style of task management,  and if you have too many tasks scheduled for specific dates,  your management process rapidly devolves into re-scheduling things you don't have time for any more.  Better to schedule a few and divide the rest into priorities so you can pick your next task for scheduling when you have free time.

Share this post


Link to post

actually why dont they do that? evernote is already a repositary so why cant they add such functionality. in short i feel they can extend their api with the following functionality:

 

  1. Task Description, Notes, Due Date, Status
  2. Repeating or Recurring Tasks
  3. Sub-tasking or parent child concept (preferably unlimited)
  4. Tagging
  5. Extensible API
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

<massive understatement alert>

It's been mentioned a couple of times before...

<end alert>

 

Actually Evernote (or more specifically,  Evernote's CEO Phil Libin) said that they'd be launching something in that area in the first half of this year. 

 

Only three months to go now...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I use Cloud Outliner on the Mac and iPhone to generate to-do lists, and then sync it with Evernote.  Cloud Outliner gets its own notebook in Evernote, with all the lists that I've chosen to sync added into the notebook.  I like the redundancy that this allows, as CO and EN become backups for each other.

Share this post


Link to post

Extropy, could you please explain in very simple terms (!) how you keep two windows open in Evernote with different views. And what is that about cmd1-9? I really like the idea of sending in the emails, but you've lost me. Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post

Two windows for Evernote (Mac OS X)

 

Evernote Menu -> File -> New Evernote Window (CMD-OPTION-N)

These windows can be sorted and filtered independently.

 

CMD 0-9 for quick access to shortcuts

 

You can drag items such as saved searches to the "Shortcuts" section of the sidebar

The first 10 of these can be selected by pressing CMD-0 through CMD-9, even if the sidebar is hidden

 

Email

Any email that I want to reference later or requires action, I forward to my Evernote email address and archive in my mail client

You can find this address under "Account Info", either from the main screen or Evernote Menu -> Evernote -> Account Info...

 

I have started using Veritrope's applescript on my Mac. 

This has the advantage that it includes a link in the note (accessible from the "I" button for each note). This link then takes me back to the original message in my mail client, from where I can answer it, forward, etc.

Unfortunately, I haven't found anything similar for iPad or iPhone.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Hi 

 
I'm Ed the founder of a task manager, Dooster.net

Very interested to see this discussion because we've had a few questions from users about integrating Dooster with Evernote.
 
We welcome any suggestions as to how we could best make Dooster work for EN users - ie for those who want to set "tasks" for their notes with benefits such as giving them start / due dates, being able to assign them to others or grant them recurring reminders - and so on.

An immediate idea is that you could simply attach a note in a Dooster task (ie using the url you get in "Share note"). When you open the task and click on the link this would open a new window showing your note.

Is this worth pursuing?
 
Please note that we've built Dooster from user recommendations and will take any suggestions / requests very seriously. Please make any suggestions here or mail me directly at ed at dooster.net

Thank you

Share this post


Link to post

This has bugged me for a while and I finally set about in earnest to figure out a solution.

 

At one site I found out about Evermind and, once I started using it, I realized I could "share" any note with any calendar (I use Business Calendar) or to-do app (I have GTasks and now Evermind installed) in order to get some kind of reminder/notification functionality. Evermind is nifty in that it provides several different outputs. I can: pin to the navigation bar; schedule a notification (similar to the GTasks look and feel); or create a calendar entry in the calendar app of my choice.

 

From this first foray into the space, I see two drawbacks:

  • first is that I'd now have at least two separate instances of one item; the primary in Evernote and any additional I may have shared into Evermind or BizCalendar; as such, in order to maintain integrity, I'd have to determine as part of my method to only make revisions to Evernote, and only use the other apps as output for time-oriented function;
  • second is that I don't have Evermind on my desktop or in a browser when using Evernote on a computer. So, any notes I set up from at my desk or on a laptop that require time functions require copying a link to Google Calendar or Google Task.

These aren't deal-breakers, and it's amazing to see how people creatively create solutions, work-arounds and methodologies in order to stay productive. Having said that, yes, I'd agree that it'd be most ideal if Evernote provided time-functions natively within the app, and I don't think it would lessen each person's chance to maintain a personalized system, I think it would create one less set of steps even as it doesn't preclude the use of any additional apps (I'd imagine sharing will always be available).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Hi again

 

We've just launched a new feature which gives you Dooster's powerful task and project functions with your Evernote files. For example you can give them start and due dates, priorities, assign them to colleagues and more...

 

Basically you have a link in your task to the evernote file that opens a new window where you can see your EN file

 

(this prevents the issue mentioned above >> two separate instances of one item; the primary in Evernote and any additional I may have shared into Evermind )

Hope it helps !
 

Full details at https://dooster.tenderapp.com/kb/files/sync-with-dropbox-evernote-google-amazon-and-other-file-sharing-services

 

 

You can quickly road test this by signing up at dooster.net - no card required.

 

Please mail me at ed at dooster.net if you have any comments or questions

 

Best wishes

ed

Share this post


Link to post

the thing that would make my life complete is the ability to reorder notes. something like the "anydo" todo list app would be ideal.

 

so instead of having notes sorted by date created or updated you could rearrange the notes depending on priority. it would be handy for project or shopping notebooks, just drag all the important notes to the top of the list in the order you need to do them in.

 

thats the way i used todo list managers the best anyway, i set reminders the odd time... but they are always ignored and i just end up postponing it to some random day the week after and eventually they all keep piling up. so im praying evernote comes out with something like sortable lists soon, so i wont have to keep switching between different apps

Share this post


Link to post

the thing that would make my life complete is the ability to reorder notes. something like the "anydo" todo list app would be ideal.

 

so instead of having notes sorted by date created or updated you could rearrange the notes depending on priority. it would be handy for project or shopping notebooks, just drag all the important notes to the top of the list in the order you need to do them in.

 

thats the way i used todo list managers the best anyway, i set reminders the odd time... but they are always ignored and i just end up postponing it to some random day the week after and eventually they all keep piling up. so im praying evernote comes out with something like sortable lists soon, so i wont have to keep switching between different apps

 

 

At the risk of re stating what has been said many times but you may not have read/realised, what a lot of us do is either use a date code at the start of the title, so today would be

 

130704 - Whatever the Note is called

 

Or add a simple number

 

01 - Whatever the Note is called

 

Or you can always change the created date manually.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Best regards

 

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post

The big advantage of using Evernote for todo's are

1) very easy to create and edit. Todo list managers tend to have more structure which gets in the way

2) can have lots of text, links etc around the todo which is good reference material.

 

I use an iOS app called Nimbulist. Nimbulist downloads any todos  in EN notes which have the tag Nimbulist. I use Nimbulist for very urgent tasks and shopping list which I want to see on my iphone.

 

I still have a few repeating tasks in Apple reminders and a calendar, bill payments, salary reminder etc. But put most of my daily todo and daily work flow in evernote

 

I had been using OmniFocus for tasks but want all my stuff in one place. Now I dont have to switching back and forward between EN and Omnifocus. I just do a lot of my work in EN

 

What needs improvement is Nimbulist the iOS apps that pull todos from EN.

 

How long am I gonna stick with this setup I dunno??? Productivity ideas are like the search for the holy grail!!!!!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post

I just read this article: http://lifehacker.com/5982051/im-phil-libin-ceo-of-evernote-and-this-is-how-i-work and I have to take exception to Phil's own comment:

 

 

 
What's your favorite to-do list manager?

You know, I don't actually have one. I use Evernote, which isn't particularly great for to-dos yet.Yet.

 

I finally put my finger on why Evernote is such a phenomenal to-do list manager, at least the way I use it:

 

Instead of a list of things to do with no context, Evernote gives you all the information you need to complete the task right there, if you use it right.

 

Based on some concepts of GTD, and experience, here is how I keep myself organised in Evernote:

  1. All e-mails that need me to think about them for longer than 30s go into my default Evernote "Incoming" notebook (via redirect to evernote address - redirect puts less junk in the headers).
  2. If I have to remember something not associated with email, I add a short note (in Incoming) with the item in the title right there and then, usually on my iPhone. For example: "document grand unified field theory breakthrough". That's it - then forget about it.
  3. Religiously check the saved search "Incoming", which shows everything I haven't filed yet.
  4. File everything as one or more of the following tags: Now, Next, Later, Pending, Fixed Date, or if it is not something I need to do, put it in the "Notes" notebook.
  5. Retitle notes tagged "Fixed Date" to start with yyyy.mm.dd
  6. Keep two windows open on my Mac desktop all the time:
    1. Card View, sorted by last updated, descending, showing Now, Next, Pending or search results (shortcut keys cmd-1 through cmd-9 are great for navigating 9 shortcuts)
    2. List view showing "Fixed Date", sorted by title (puts the dates in the right order)
  7. Work through "Now", and move things up from "Next".
  8. Check "Later" when I'm bored being productive.
  9. Check "Pending" often. "Pending" is usually also tagged with someone's name and is often also a "Fixed Date". Move to "Now" or "Next" when I can do something on it.

The real beauty of this is that most of the information for each action is right there in the note, because they mostly come from emails. In other cases, I expand the note manually while I'm working on it, sometimes with checkboxes, links to other notes, external materials, etc. 

 

When I'm done, tag the note "Completed". If I ever want a log of when I did something, "Completed" sorted by date does the trick. I've noticed that notes tend to move roughly like this:

Incoming -> Next -> Now -> Completed

or Incoming -> Pending -> Completed

or Incoming -> Fixed Date & Pending -> Now -> Completed

 

The two key ideas that make this work are:

 

Don't think about things I have to do while I am doing one of those things.

Keep the information (or a link to it) I need to do each thing right there in the note.

 

There are many improvements that could be made to Evernote, but for managing to-do lists as above, there are only a couple of features that I would say I really need:

 

Shortcut keys for sorting (title, created, updated, ascending, descending)

Moving around the UI with the TAB key

Email links (mail://... to link back to a message in my email client when it is time to answer)

 

Forgetting the debate about whether EN is or is not good for to-do lists, which is largely in the eye of the beholder and depends on how a person manages their workflow, it was really nice of you to write such a detailed explanation for other users of how you have made it work well for you.

Share this post


Link to post

I think it would be nice for EN to do better with todos, but I also understand why they wouldn't want to compete with full blown project management software.  Once you start down that path, team-based project management is where it leads.

 

We created a workaround that allows you to either use EN as a todo list with very minimal functionality or simply send your EN todos to your favorite todo list manager (e.g. Wunderlist, Astrid or even full-fledged project managers like Basecamp).

Share this post


Link to post

FAO Extropy,

I have just spent 15 minutes implementing the steps you've taken.

 

I had Gmail labels called Urgent and non-urgent

I had Mac Reminders called Urgent, non-urgent, urgent chase-up, non-urgent chase-up

 

And I have many more categories in Mac Reminders.

 

I've just emptied most of those folders and labels and dumped it all into EN in the way you've suggested. At first I didn't think it could work and my body was tense. But now that I've dragged it all across and I've saved those shortcuts, I can see the power of it.

 

I have a question that I hope you can help.

I have many different categories of tasks such as:

 

- Personal tasks 

- Work tasks (I'm self-employed so I have many varied tasks to oversee)

- Bills to pay/archive

- Logging my 2 year old daughters latest artwork photos

- Logging my thoughts about "unschooling" my daughter and building up a case to present to family members

- Complete tasks that relate to some community work that I do

 

My point here is that sometimes I'm in the mood for a certain category of work, not just things that I want to complete "now" or "next". Sometimes I would hate the idea of doing some work but I've got some energy to clear a few personal tasks.

 

Do you have any tips on how I can further sort those tags to help me only be presented with the sort of tasks that I've currently got energy for?

 

Thanks :)

Share this post


Link to post

Also, I have tasks that are complete but I need to follow up the other party to make sure they act on what I've just sent them.

How would you handle those tasks? Just remove the "now" tag and add the "pending" tag?

Or should I come up with a new tag called "Follow Up" ?

 

Any thoughts on that?

Share this post


Link to post

p.p.s I've just seen the power of bringing all of the information within EN to work on the task right within EN rather than opening other software or email clients etc to work on things. Dragging all of the information RIGHT THERE alongside the task reminder feels great.

Share this post


Link to post

I use a Personal Kanban system in Evernote. I have a separate Evernote window open all the time as my Kanban whiteboard. All of my "stuff" (actions, ideas, projects...) gets dumped into an Evernote notebook then sucked into my Kanban as I clear items on it. I used to do GTD, but if you're not careful you can spend all your time classifying, sorting and tagging stuff and not actually doing much.

--
Cheers
Mark

Share this post


Link to post

I have many different categories of tasks such as:

 

- Personal tasks 

- Work tasks (I'm self-employed so I have many varied tasks to oversee)

- Bills to pay/archive

- Logging my 2 year old daughters latest artwork photos

- Logging my thoughts about "unschooling" my daughter and building up a case to present to family members

- Complete tasks that relate to some community work that I do

 

My point here is that sometimes I'm in the mood for a certain category of work, not just things that I want to complete "now" or "next". Sometimes I would hate the idea of doing some work but I've got some energy to clear a few personal tasks.

 

Do you have any tips on how I can further sort those tags to help me only be presented with the sort of tasks that I've currently got energy for?

 

Thanks :)

 

Well, in addition to the tags I described in my original post, I use many others that are more specific to certain tasks. I took to heart a suggestion made on this board some time ago, don't remember who it was, to avoid "generic" tags like "interesting", etc., so my tags tend to be quite specific. I also use people's names a lot in tags. For example, in your list above what looks logical to me would be, for example:

 

Just "Personal" for personal tasks (they are already identified as tasks by being labelled :now, next, etc.", and then maybe another tag for the task type itself: "project x", project y", etc. Same for "Work". Then you can sort for "now, next, etc." and "personal" or "work", depending on what you feel like doing.

 

Sometimes a project gets big enough to justify its own notebook. The criteria for a project getting its own notebook are usually:

 

Is it something I will archive when finished?

Is it something I share with someone else?

Are there a lot of notes associated with it?

 

I hardly ever share individual notes, just notebooks that I create for that specific purpose. When I do create a notebook for a project, the "Now, Next, Pending, etc. " tags on notes in that notebook still show up in my filters, which is useful when working on a specific project. I can just add the notebook name to the end of the saved search to limit the scope to that project.

 

I always tag bills as "Fixed Date" and, since the reminders system came out, I add a reminder, too.

 

Daughter's artwork: "Daughter's Name", "Art" in two separate tags might do the trick

 

Unschooling: "Daughters Name", "unschooling" – I would be interested to know what is behind that category. Undoing the damage done by traditional brainwashing teaching techniques? I do that with my kids, but tend not to have a lot of notes about that specifically. I just talk to them about stuff. A lot of the stuff is backed up by Evernote notebooks I share with them. I have specific notebooks for each one "Shared with Arthur", etc. and then certain shared subject notebooks that they both have access to.

 

Community work I would also suggest making more specific. Like a tag for the name of the organisation and/or project. 

 

If I complete my part of a task, but someone else still has to do something and I have to follow it up, I use their name and "Pending" I usually wind up adding text to these notes as I receive feedback from them. When everything is finished, it goes to "Completed"

 

In general, my use of tags is very fluid. Sometimes, I sort the tag list by number of notes and reclassify things and delete tags that have very few notes associated with them after reclassifying the notes with that tag. That is a good way of seeing how the organisation system works and refining it over time.

 

I hope that helps.

Share this post


Link to post

I guess there's a trade-off here between using a "one book" method (i.e. Evernote) and using a "best of breed" method (i.e. a specialist todo, or GTD app). I recall reading over the years several time management books that suggested the best idea was to have one book (nowadays app perhaps) that you put everything into so you can find stuff easily and don't waste time figuring out where to put things. Personally I've gone for this concept using Evernote as my "one book". All actions, ideas, projects gets dumped into my "grasscatcher" notebook and then processed using Personal Kanban. Prior to this I was always finding new todo/GTD tools and switching between them. But eventually I realised that "hey some people just use pen and paper" and decided to stick with one system even if it wasn't optimised for the task. But as they say... whatever floats your boat.

--

Mark

www.reallifeselling.com

Share this post


Link to post

I use the new shortcuts feature to help my todo lists. I have 6 tags saved as shortcuts:

> 1 Mon

> 2 Tue

> 6 Weekend etc

I then drags notes onto the relevant day, and then into one of my few notebooks (Filing Cabinet if it's something I need to keep afterwards, or The Box Room if I can delete it once the task is done). So I am left with 6 easy-to-find todo lists for each day of the week.

If something has a specific deadline beyond a week, I add a reminder (ie I always add a month reminder to my PDF invoices so I know when to start chasing them)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I just read this article: http://lifehacker.com/5982051/im-phil-libin-ceo-of-evernote-and-this-is-how-i-work and I have to take exception to Phil's own comment:

 

 

 
What's your favorite to-do list manager?

You know, I don't actually have one. I use Evernote, which isn't particularly great for to-dos yet.Yet.

 

I finally put my finger on why Evernote is such a phenomenal to-do list manager, at least the way I use it:

 

Instead of a list of things to do with no context, Evernote gives you all the information you need to complete the task right there, if you use it right.

 

Based on some concepts of GTD, and experience, here is how I keep myself organised in Evernote:

  1. All e-mails that need me to think about them for longer than 30s go into my default Evernote "Incoming" notebook (via redirect to evernote address - redirect puts less junk in the headers).
  2. If I have to remember something not associated with email, I add a short note (in Incoming) with the item in the title right there and then, usually on my iPhone. For example: "document grand unified field theory breakthrough". That's it - then forget about it.
  3. Religiously check the saved search "Incoming", which shows everything I haven't filed yet.
  4. File everything as one or more of the following tags: Now, Next, Later, Pending, Fixed Date, or if it is not something I need to do, put it in the "Notes" notebook.
  5. Retitle notes tagged "Fixed Date" to start with yyyy.mm.dd
  6. Keep two windows open on my Mac desktop all the time:
    1. Card View, sorted by last updated, descending, showing Now, Next, Pending or search results (shortcut keys cmd-1 through cmd-9 are great for navigating 9 shortcuts)
    2. List view showing "Fixed Date", sorted by title (puts the dates in the right order)
  7. Work through "Now", and move things up from "Next".
  8. Check "Later" when I'm bored being productive.
  9. Check "Pending" often. "Pending" is usually also tagged with someone's name and is often also a "Fixed Date". Move to "Now" or "Next" when I can do something on it.

The real beauty of this is that most of the information for each action is right there in the note, because they mostly come from emails. In other cases, I expand the note manually while I'm working on it, sometimes with checkboxes, links to other notes, external materials, etc. 

 

When I'm done, tag the note "Completed". If I ever want a log of when I did something, "Completed" sorted by date does the trick. I've noticed that notes tend to move roughly like this:

Incoming -> Next -> Now -> Completed

or Incoming -> Pending -> Completed

or Incoming -> Fixed Date & Pending -> Now -> Completed

 

The two key ideas that make this work are:

 

Don't think about things I have to do while I am doing one of those things.

Keep the information (or a link to it) I need to do each thing right there in the note.

 

There are many improvements that could be made to Evernote, but for managing to-do lists as above, there are only a couple of features that I would say I really need:

 

Shortcut keys for sorting (title, created, updated, ascending, descending)

Moving around the UI with the TAB key

Email links (mail://... to link back to a message in my email client when it is time to answer)

 

Thanks for the detailed explanation. I've been using Evernote for quite a while, and I've taken a couple of failed stabs at making it my to-so list. I thought I'd try again using a variation of your plan. My question is this: Where/how to you file your tasks? Emails go to your input folder where you tag them. If not a to-do, it goes in your Notes folder. Where does everything else go? I understand the tagging process, and I've got to work that into my workflow, but haven't decided the filing system for these to-dos, both while in progress and/or once complete.

 

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post

dbvirago,

 

Actually, this is one of the areas where I have a little nagging doubt about what I am doing. My default notebook is "Incoming", and tasks just get tagged and moved around in there, and often never moved out of that notebook, just marked "Completed". I have a saved search for "Inbox" which is just untagged notes in "Incoming". If they are things that I have to do, I generally just tag them "Now", "Next", etc. and leave them in "Incoming". If they are just things I want to save, they go into either "Notes", which is a huge notebook of stuff I keep, generally organised by tags, or into a specific notebook.

 

I have two basic criteria for filing notes in other notebooks:

  1. Does the note need to go into a notebook I share with someone else?
  2. Does the note need to go into a notebook I use for deciding which notes to download to iPhone or iPad?

These same rules are pretty much how I decide whether to make a notebook or not.

 

The nagging doubt is that I have notes tagged "Now", "Next", "Pending" spread over many different notebooks. This makes sense where I have shared notes that require some action, but I also have many notes marked "Completed" in both "Incoming" and "Notes" notebooks. It doesn't really hurt anything, but it doesn't seem quite clean. On the other hand, whenever I think about rearranging stuff, I hear a little voice in my head telling me not to be so OCD about it. It works, so don't fix it.

 

Also, I don't like to do massive reorganisation of notes because "last modified date" is a very important sort criteria for me for finding things. If I "touch" a lot of notes, they get in the way when I am looking for recent activity.

Share this post


Link to post

The new GTD for Evernote Guide from David Allen Company has been a great resource for me as I use the GTD methodology for my projects and next action lists. Evernote works great this way!

Share this post


Link to post

After reading this post I realize this whole todo conversation can get pretty complicated. I just need to be able to mark certain portions of the notes I take as a todo and then have a list of all the todo's in a single place. Seems pretty simple to do code wise. I use evernote for all my notes and don't want to extract everything I do into ANOTHER tool. Consolidation is important for me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

After reading this post I realize this whole todo conversation can get pretty complicated. I just need to be able to mark certain portions of the notes I take as a todo and then have a list of all the todo's in a single place. Seems pretty simple to do code wise. I use evernote for all my notes and don't want to extract everything I do into ANOTHER tool. Consolidation is important for me.

Evernote does have simple list functions like checkboxes. 

Share this post


Link to post

BNF seems to be in a shoot from the hip mood today and is perhaps not reading to the end of your point whitesidel

 

The missing bit from your request is the consolidation.  That requires 3rd party integration at the moment (not sure what platform you need that on, desktop or mobile).

Or... that instead of a checkbox you use a Reminder.

You can only have one reminder per note, but you can view a list of all Reminders (with a few sort options).

Plus you can use searches to sub-select a range of them.

 

As TaskClone says, searches can be done.  I won't dump in all the ones I use but if there's anything specific you still need, give a shout.

 

Things you can create saved searches for as examples:

  • notes with unchecked todos
  • notes with checked but no unchecked todos (perhaps for archiving done tasks)
  • search only in a notebook or stack of notebooks (because we can't just exclude one notebook, like an Archive notebook)
  • show done or undone todos within a range of days, weeks, months forward or back.

All in all it can be pretty powerful.

But I agree it doesn't erase a perceived need to want to see check the todos in a summary.

Share this post


Link to post

A confession

 

After having started this thread some time ago, I now must admit that I have moved to OmniFocus for to-do's. I do still keep the reference material in Evernote, but link them to the todo list in OmniFocus. I think the primary motivation was that OF is much lighter on OSX and iOS, and is just a very natural way to manage lists of things. Entering a note in Evernote on iOS was never a "quick" thing, and managing the tags and such in Evernote on iOS was a PITA.

Share this post


Link to post

@whiteside - I'm looking for exactly the same thing. I tend to use notes to document a process or an event. Either some running notes of a project as I'm working on it, or taking minutes in a meeting. They look like this.

 

dvhart: wants a better todo system

John: This dvhart guy is way to excited about todo list, he needs a hobby

[ ] Sign John up for lots of SPAM

 

John: forgot to complete his only three deliverables

[ ] Sync with John and help him setup a todo list

 

...

 

I want to be able to go to some kind of a smart-note which lists all the todos (checkboxes - optionally only empty checkboxes) from a selection of notes - by notebook, tag, date, etc.

Share this post


Link to post

You can find notes with todo items, but searching inside a note for these items can't be done in Evernote. For the former (from the Evernote Search Grammar docs), you're use the todo: search term:
 

todo:[true|false|*] - if the argument is "true", this will match notes that have ToDo checkboxes that are currently checked. If the argument is "false", this will match notes that have ToDo checkboxes that are not currently checked. If the argument is "*", this will match notes that have a ToDo checkbox of any type.

  • -todo:false todo:true
    • Matches notes that have completed ToDo items, but no uncompleted items.

Share this post


Link to post

I just read this article: http://lifehacker.com/5982051/im-phil-libin-ceo-of-evernote-and-this-is-how-i-work and I have to take exception to Phil's own comment:

 

 

 
What's your favorite to-do list manager?

You know, I don't actually have one. I use Evernote, which isn't particularly great for to-dos yet.Yet.

 

I finally put my finger on why Evernote is such a phenomenal to-do list manager, at least the way I use it:

 

Instead of a list of things to do with no context, Evernote gives you all the information you need to complete the task right there, if you use it right.

 

Based on some concepts of GTD, and experience, here is how I keep myself organised in Evernote:

  1. All e-mails that need me to think about them for longer than 30s go into my default Evernote "Incoming" notebook (via redirect to evernote address - redirect puts less junk in the headers).
  2. If I have to remember something not associated with email, I add a short note (in Incoming) with the item in the title right there and then, usually on my iPhone. For example: "document grand unified field theory breakthrough". That's it - then forget about it.
  3. Religiously check the saved search "Incoming", which shows everything I haven't filed yet.
  4. File everything as one or more of the following tags: Now, Next, Later, Pending, Fixed Date, or if it is not something I need to do, put it in the "Notes" notebook.
  5. Retitle notes tagged "Fixed Date" to start with yyyy.mm.dd
  6. Keep two windows open on my Mac desktop all the time:
    1. Card View, sorted by last updated, descending, showing Now, Next, Pending or search results (shortcut keys cmd-1 through cmd-9 are great for navigating 9 shortcuts)
    2. List view showing "Fixed Date", sorted by title (puts the dates in the right order)
  7. Work through "Now", and move things up from "Next".
  8. Check "Later" when I'm bored being productive.
  9. Check "Pending" often. "Pending" is usually also tagged with someone's name and is often also a "Fixed Date". Move to "Now" or "Next" when I can do something on it.

The real beauty of this is that most of the information for each action is right there in the note, because they mostly come from emails. In other cases, I expand the note manually while I'm working on it, sometimes with checkboxes, links to other notes, external materials, etc. 

 

When I'm done, tag the note "Completed". If I ever want a log of when I did something, "Completed" sorted by date does the trick. I've noticed that notes tend to move roughly like this:

Incoming -> Next -> Now -> Completed

or Incoming -> Pending -> Completed

or Incoming -> Fixed Date & Pending -> Now -> Completed

 

The two key ideas that make this work are:

 

Don't think about things I have to do while I am doing one of those things.

Keep the information (or a link to it) I need to do each thing right there in the note.

 

There are many improvements that could be made to Evernote, but for managing to-do lists as above, there are only a couple of features that I would say I really need:

 

Shortcut keys for sorting (title, created, updated, ascending, descending)

Moving around the UI with the TAB key

Email links (mail://... to link back to a message in my email client when it is time to answer)

 

How do you do a "redirect" in gmail?  I can't find the option anywhere, or is it a filter, and only applies to inbound email and can't be applied to older already existing emails?

Share this post


Link to post

 

You can find notes with todo items, but searching inside a note for these items can't be done in Evernote. 

 

 

Unless one creates their own home-made tags in line with any to-do item itself, after having filtered for todo:* if necessary (or searches for a keyword):

 

  • #exp Credit card installment 

... where #exp would be a tag for expenses

Share this post


Link to post

@Frank - I thought Evernote didn't recognise the "#" character - it's either numeric,  alphabetic or nothing.  So a search for "#exp" is exactly the same as a search for "exp".  Has that changed?

 

I use tagwords like "Xinformation" for specialised searches...

 

EDIT:  Doh!  But it makes a difference if you use # in tags,  of course.  Going back to sleep now....  sorry!

Share this post


Link to post

@Frank - I thought Evernote didn't recognise the "#" character - it's either numeric,  alphabetic or nothing.  So a search for "#exp" is exactly the same as a search for "exp".  Has that changed?

 

I use tagwords like "Xinformation" for specialised searches...

 

EDIT:  Doh!  But it makes a difference if you use # in tags,  of course.  Going back to sleep now....  sorry!

 

I failed to mention that I was searching within a note with Ctrl+F... not using the search bar. You are absolutely right in that hashtags are not respected in the search bar... and I'm not going to lie to you and tell you I meant to talk about tags themselves  :P

 

Now that I think about it, why would someone want to search inside a note by using a hashtag or even any keyword... unless your list of checkboxed items (within one note) runs into the tens or hundreds? So scrap that idea. What would be better, as you suggested @Gazumped, would be to use an "X" prefix for a homemade tag, filter for to-do's in the search bar, as well as for "Xexpense"... and you'll get a set of notes returned, each with the keywords highlighted when you flip to each note in turn. 

 

And you are doubly right that when popping a keyword/ "home-made" tag into a note, it would be better to prefix it with an X (Xexp). Not as visual as a hashtag (#exp)... BUT, one can search for it more accurately from the search bar too. Incidentally, I use an "X" prefix for a lot of my text expander "Autotext" abbreviations.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Don't forget that the underscore, _, is searchable.  So _Expense works just like Xexpense.  My own use is for completed items using a hot key which produces _Completed date time.  No doubt there is no difference in functionality.  Depends on your feng shui I suppose.   :P

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Maybe I haven't been patient enough to get any of the ideas for tracking to-dos in Evernote to work for me, but it feels like this shouldn't be so hard.  I am a huge Evernote fan.  I'm a Premium user.  I recently discovered that OneNote has the ability to tag a single line item within a note as a to-do item, then filter on that tag so a list of to-dos is created, regardless of what notes those to-dos reside in.  I can't believe I'm actually considering moving to OneNote for work use.  This feature is huge to me.  Is there even a chance that Evernote will create a similar feature?  

 

I should also say that I have attempted to use Azendoo, and it's just not cutting it yet.

Share this post


Link to post

You can filter notes with checkbox with search syntax. So you can display, for example, notes with todo, related to your home, to your car... Or related to your work, to projects... Tags are awesome.

You can save those frequent searches, and set them as EN shortcuts. Use them with Android widget to display lists, on different screens.

Share this post


Link to post

You can filter notes with checkbox with search syntax. So you can display, for example, notes with todo, related to your home, to your car... Or related to your work, to projects... Tags are awesome.

You can save those frequent searches, and set them as EN shortcuts. Use them with Android widget to display lists, on different screens.

Thanks SebR.  I will look into that.  Will the search results be a list of the notes that contain the todo (checkbox)?  Ideally, I would love for just the todo item itself to be filtered on, not the entire note.  

Share this post


Link to post

You can filter notes with checkbox with search syntax. So you can display, for example, notes with todo, related to your home, to your car... Or related to your work, to projects... Tags are awesome.

You can save those frequent searches, and set them as EN shortcuts. Use them with Android widget to display lists, on different screens.

Thanks SebR.  I will look into that.  Will the search results be a list of the notes that contain the todo (checkbox)?  Ideally, I would love for just the todo item itself to be filtered on, not the entire note.

List of notes yes.

If you want a detailed example on how to implement something like that

http://ruudhein.com/evernote-gtd

Share this post


Link to post

 

 

You can filter notes with checkbox with search syntax. So you can display, for example, notes with todo, related to your home, to your car... Or related to your work, to projects... Tags are awesome.

You can save those frequent searches, and set them as EN shortcuts. Use them with Android widget to display lists, on different screens.

Thanks SebR.  I will look into that.  Will the search results be a list of the notes that contain the todo (checkbox)?  Ideally, I would love for just the todo item itself to be filtered on, not the entire note.
List of notes yes.

If you want a detailed example on how to implement something like that

http://ruudhein.com/evernote-gtd

 

Thanks so much!!  I'll check it out.

Share this post


Link to post

You can also make use of both checklists and Reminders by having a Project Note that contains info on your project and relative note links, and then a checklist of all tasks. If you implement GTD, you can have a notebook stack titled Next Actions, with individual notebooks for each Context. Then have a single note for each task, each with a reminder. Add a date if it's got a deadline, or leave it as an empty Reminder so it just shows up in the Reminders list. I like this solution because you can re-arrange the tasks to whatever priority or order you like. You can also "check off" the task when complete, which just feels good :D

 

Here are some screenshots. For example, this is what a Project Note could look like. The "W -" in the title is how I'd note that it's a Work project. I would then put these Project Notes in my Shortcuts so all info on my current projects is a tap/click away.

 

0115ab33736997cf2b175d303beae261.png

 

 

Here's what the Next Action list can look like (by virtue of having each task its own note in a Next Actions Stack), as well as how you could list your projects in your Shortcuts (you could also just use a notebook titled Work Projects or somesuch, either works).

 

dd9dd281402f459d7300f3517e7a623c.png

 

 

Great, now I'm wanting to use Evernote for GTD again... oh boy... 

 

PS: OneNote's tags only work on Windows. If you have an iOS or Android device, you can see the tag inside the notes but you can't search or filter by them. Only Windows supports this.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks Entropy, that's very useful. (I hope you're still around; I know you wrote this in 2013). But Can you clarify something? It seems that tags -- NowNextLaterPending, and Fixed Date (the titles of which you subsequently prepend with yyyy.mm.dd) -- and tag-based searching is at the heart of your approach. For example, in step 4 you say:

 

File everything as one or more of the following tags: Now, Next, Later, Pending, Fixed Date, or if it is not something I need to do, put it in the "Notes" notebook.

 

Even when an item is completed, you say:
 

When I'm done, tag the note "Completed". If I ever want a log of when I did something, "Completed" sorted by date does the trick.

 

The overall impression is that you have only two notebooks -- Incoming and Notes.

Is that true?

 

thx!

Share this post


Link to post

Is that true?

 

thx!

 

For the most part, yes. I don't use notebooks to separate work/personal or projects, with the following exceptions:

 

If I need to collaborate with someone else, I create a notebook for that and share it. I don't usually share individual notes, just notebooks.

 

There are certain repetitive tasks I do, mostly evaluation of Invitations to Tender. These have a fairly constant structure and I never know until I have finished if we will be responding to the ITT. These, I keep in separate notebooks so that I can archive them if we are not going to bid. They, too, often get shared.

 

For courses that I take (on-line and off-line), I create notebooks for similar reasons.

 

In short, "incoming" and "notes" notebooks are the only necessary ones, other notebooks are for sharing and archive.

 

By the way – since the original post, I have extended the system to include Evernote business, and it made the transition just fine. I didn't really have to change anything.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now