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Extropy

The key to using Evernote as a to-do list

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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

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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

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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!!!!!!!!!

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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.

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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).

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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 :)

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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)

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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@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.

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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.

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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?

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