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(Archived) Any organizational gurus out there?

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Hello fellow enthusiasts! I am a pretty heavy Evernote user. A while back I scanned every paper doc I had. Next I really got into the digital habit and except when I need to make handwritten notes (my tablet is not fast enough to use it for note-taking but I have the Samsung Note S on my wishlist!) I am paperless and use evernote for almost all my digital information keeping. I also am an artist and I collect vast amounts of information, pictures, clips, etc. In addition to that I'm a frick'n nerd and I've got things uber organized. I'm a premium user (not business) also.

 

So the reason I am posting this is for some new ideas. I want to see what other people come up with for my organizational issue that I'm currently experiencing. I use Evernote for my personal life, personal projects, art projects, research, and for work. I have 2300 notes and they are all content that I use or plan to use at some point so I am very careful about tagging and notebook organization. My problem mainly is that I really need another level in the notebook tree. It would be SO perfect for me if there were Bookshelves, Notebook stacks, Notebooks, and Notes. Wow, that would make everything so much better. But there isn't and so I am trying to find my way around this. Can you help?

 

Example:

To-Do notebook stack - To-Research notebook 

In here, I have individual notes of things I want to research. I also have notes of lists of things I want to research. Ideally it would be:

To-Do bookshelf - To-Research notebook stack - Tools notebook - individual notes

Right now the tools notes are all mixed in with the artists and with the electronics and with the php code I want to go over, etc etc.

 

I honestly just don't know what the most efficient / user friendly method of organization for this is. I have ideas. For instance tag with the subject, but I feel like tagging with the subject will get confusing. Partly because I could have dozens of subjects but also because when web clipping I'd have to already know the tag, there is no drop down menu. What if I can't remember the exact tag I've used? When I am clipping and tagging with topics I type and suggestions come up and if I miss one it's not a big deal but if I am using tags to specifically separate notes as an impromptu subject divider (in keeping with the notebook analogy) I need to use the correct exact one and I honestly can't remember stuff like that.

 

Are there any features I'm unaware of that could help me? Has anyone found an elegant solution to only having this many levels? I feel like if I used Evernote only for art, or only for personal stuff or only for work it would be fine but because I need to definitively separate that content there are more limits in what I can do. In order to not waste a level I have made my stacks general and then I specialize inside. That is, I do not have 3 stacks (Art, Personal, Work), instead I have stacks like Projects and then inside there are 5 project notebooks, some personal, some art). I also have To-Do stack, Paperless Life stack, etc. 

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I should mention I have considered multiple accounts but it would just be way way way too complicated, especially because so much information overlaps and is helpful to me when working on various unrelated projects. I also have most of my ebooks in evernote so that I can search my notes and the books for research info without having to open a separate product. I'd prefer to not have to log in and out and separate my data like that.

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Hi and thanks for the detailed explanations of your Evernote use.  You seem to have your various interests well covered,  and I don't quite see why you need the extra level of demarcation.  I would probably have less organisation than you - I've grown used to using searches to find the information I need,  and most of the things I save in Evernote have their own account numbers / headings / addresses / serial numbers - there's always something to tie a thread of information together without my needing to add tags,  fancy headings or use separate notebooks.  I'm nearly up to 16,000 notes,  and 99% of those are in the default notebook.  I use temporary notebooks to work on a project,  and to help gather notes on a particular issue together;  but once they've gotten to know each other for a while I always put them back into the general population.

 

I do use long titles for my notes - that's because I have a bad memory too,  and I need to cover all the possible terms I might use in a search for any given item.  When I do search I try to get down to just the items I'm looking for by carefully phrasing my search terms,  changing the titles of some notes when hindsight suggests I should have used different terms,  and adding tags - again often temporarily while I shepherd the organisation of my notes in the direction I want.

 

I miss a more graphic way to show notes - there are some options out there for physically moving notes around,  but I tend to use mind-mapping outside of Evernote for planning out stuff.  (There's now a mapping client that works with Evernote - have a look at ConceptDraw Mind Map.)

 

I can't really offer much more than encouragement - you seem to be doing a pretty good job of organisation at present.  Don't get sidetracked by too many different strategies - it's always better to be doing the work than planning to do it...

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Hey thanks for your quick reply...the problem for me is that I want to be able to see everything related to something specific quite easily. I could use a specific tag but as I said I can't remember that many specific tags. Right now, using specific tags to act as psuedo sections of a notebook (or a subject divider is what it would be called in a real paper notebook) is the only way I can think to do this. When I collect something it is with something specific in mind. But maybe there are 30 specific things. I can't remember that many tags and if I just tag at will I will not get everything I need. For instance maybe I want to look up all the tools I'd like to research. Well unless every note is tagged "tool" I won't find everything because the articles I clipped won't all use a common word. I could remember to tag things tool, yes, but that is only one of many.

 

Right now I feel like my only option is to come up with a list of specific tags and try to memorize it, or have another level to the tree. I can't think of any other way of doing this without filling up a notebook stack with many many notebooks (which would ruin my very efficient organizational system).

 

I looked into a Business account, but I don't think that would add any further separation of my notes, would it? I read through the info on evernote's website but had a bit of a difficult time understanding how the personal and business notebooks are identified / separated.

 

btw thanks for the mindmap link. I use a study matrix...which is basically a mind map but with information you are learning vs brainstorming. I still am on paper as I haven't found a great solution. I'm going to go check out Concept Draw :) Here's one for you: CardboardIt.com It's an online card map app. I won't go into what that is as you probably know but if you're unfamiliar with card maps I can answer your Qs.

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Thanks for your suggestion - I hadn't seen CardboardIt before and it's a nice implementation;  I might have a play with that in my copious free time - :(.

 

I'll see you a card map and raise an Academic map that might be useful to you - org

 

The difficulty of managing a lot of different topics/ interests is one that comes up quite a lot in collaboration,  knowledge bases and intranets - it's even harder to manager the naming of things when it's not just you doing the naming.  You need a defined structure into which to fit your materials - kind've like the bookshelf / books / chapters / paragraphs situation you'd have in the real world.  One solution might be to define that structure for yourself in a series of notes.  If you have a 'library' note listing all the books,  a 'shelf' note listing those one one subject,  and 'chapter' notes with links to actual articles and paragraphs would that sort of layout (give or take a level) suit your needs?

 

You could do that with tags,  and you can stack your tags in that format to help you remember what and where they are.  You can do that with note links by physically joining the notes together - which avoids the need for tags but makes more admin work in other directions.  Or you could use a combination of notebooks (remember you 'only' have 250) plus tags and links - plus searches - to get there.

 

I'm sure you can come up with a workable system - the only drawback is it has to be you that does the design of this - you know your needs best,  and if you create something you tend to be happier with it than something cobbled together externally.

 

Best of luck!

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Hey, (considering the visual need, I and a good number of others have long said that, as with most Notebook/Note/tag apps, Evernote Notebooks really need a visual list of any tags associated with it so it's subsubjects are always visible...after 3 years, doesn't seem like it's happening! ). 

What about using Note-Links to help create the bigger picture? I use them for table of contents, connecting notes of a very specific subject matter within a large Notebook etc... 

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I too have struggled with wishing there was “one more level” in the notebook structure. I have come up with stuff that works for me. It may not work for you, but I also have some other ideas that I don’t personally use, but still might help you.


 


1) I started keeping my notebooks more “general” and if I felt if a note needed further organization, I put that information in the note title. It seems like it would get very confusing, but I know myself, and I am very consistent with the way I think. Also, once you create one or two notes, it is easy to remember what you did before.


 


2) Once I get enough notes all on the same topic, I make in index note, which of course has “Index” in the title. A quick search of “Index” and the topic I am looking for usually will get all the information I need quickly.


 


3) My note names all start with YYYYMMDD: then the title. Sorting by title is quicker than worrying about date created or date modified. I generally know what I am looking for based on semi-knowing a date when I created it.


 


This system I have going is always evolving. I am liking it so far, but the more I use it, I may tweak it more. The goal is to continue to eliminate notebooks once I see how well (or not) that it works.


 


Some other thoughts, is that you can set up nested tags, and create as many levels as you like, just like a dead tree structure 100 levels deep, if you want. Display “Tags” Instead of “Notebooks” on the left menu, and you kind of have what you want. Like a virtual directory structure. As far as remembering all those tags, when you are actually using EN, you can have them visible, and either use that as a guide, or drag and drop to the tags. To help with the web clipping issue, if you use the clipper in Chrome (which I ironically do not) it has a menu system where you can see all your tags and select them, so that you don’t have to remember them. I am not sure how well either of these will work, since I don’t actually do them myself, but it is stuff to think about.


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I'm sure you can come up with a workable system - the only drawback is it has to be you that does the design of this - you know your needs best,  and if you create something you tend to be happier with it than something cobbled together externally.

 

 

 

 

Love that you added that. That's one of the reasons I didn't post this question in the past...also to try to explain the way my head works and list what I've already done, that was hard lol

 

Okay, so here is the thing. I didn't want to write a giant giant post but my tags are pretty organized too lol I have a very efficient tagging system which I'll post about one day when my backlog is caught up. I have 700 clipped articles sitting waiting to be sorted. I haven't done it yet because I've been trying to figure this out first. Having index notes with lists/links to the articles is a good idea except I won't keep it up -- that is a lot of extra work, at least for me the way I use Evernote. We're not talking about a few new notes a week, or even a day. One day I might add 40.

 

unrelated: Docear there, can you export highlighted text and notes as text? I use Mendeley for highlighting and making notes in pdfs and ebooks (I convert it all to pdf for consistency) and then upload the exported info into Evernote. Mendeley is an academic suite too but a bit different. The pdf highlighting/exporting is the only thing I use it for though.

 

 

 

Some other thoughts, is that you can set up nested tags, and create as many levels as you like, just like a dead tree structure 100 levels deep, if you want. Display “Tags” Instead of “Notebooks” on the left menu, and you kind of have what you want. Like a virtual directory structure. As far as remembering all those tags, when you are actually using EN, you can have them visible, and either use that as a guide, or drag and drop to the tags. To help with the web clipping issue, if you use the clipper in Chrome (which I ironically do not) it has a menu system where you can see all your tags and select them, so that you don’t have to remember them. I am not sure how well either of these will work, since I don’t actually do them myself, but it is stuff to think about.

 

 

Hey thanks for all those ideas. Is there a way to create an index quickly? Like highlight all the notes and create index? I think I saw that in one of the blog posts once but I've never used it. Indexes would be okay for me at the end of it all but I know me and there is no way I will be able to keep it up. That kind of extra step of adding the article to another thing every time after I clip it will get boring fast and I'll give up the system.

Question: In the webclipper (as far as I can tell) there actually is not a tag browser, am I not seeing it? What I see you type the tag and it autofills. Which is great if you know what the tag you used might be. But oh my goodness, some of my research is medical and I don't always know which of the many options of names/words I have used to label stuff. I have my tags very sorted so if I am unsure once in a while I can look at the tag browser (LOVE the new tag browser) but when actually clipping, in the browser or from my android phone or tablet, I don't have that list of tags out and open. 

 

I've been trying to figure out if there is a way to rearrange my note stacks and note books...I'm still thinking about it.

 

Honestly the PERFECT solution is if Evernote would add a separate subscription option: Business for Freelancers. I pay $5/mo for premium right now, I'd happily pay $10 for a way to somehow separate my projects better and/or separate my personal notebooks from business ones. When oh when!?!?!

 

btw I asked in chat about a business account and was told a business account would not be helpful.

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Hey, (considering the visual need, I and a good number of others have long said that, as with most Notebook/Note/tag apps, Evernote Notebooks really need a visual list of any tags associated with it so it's subsubjects are always visible...after 3 years, doesn't seem like it's happening! ). 

What about using Note-Links to help create the bigger picture? I use them for table of contents, connecting notes of a very specific subject matter within a large Notebook etc... 

 

Sorry I didn't see your message when I replied first, don't know how that happened...

 

Anyway, YES. I thought about that in this journey also. I like that when you are in a notebook you can use a dropdown to see tags that are in that notebook. That is an incredibly handy feature. However that list gets pretty damn big as it's every tag. If there was a way to filter that dropdown that would be handy and at least a fast workaround.

 

Damnit I just want the option to have shelves like I do at home with my "real" notebooks and collections of notebooks (stacks). All these work arounds and complicated organization systems would not be necessary.

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Hey thanks for all those ideas. Is there a way to create an index quickly? Like highlight all the notes and create index? 

 

Yes there is. It works slightly different on the Mac version and the PC version, and I am not sure which you are using. But with either there are ways to select a whole bunch of notes, and copy all the links at the same time.

 

That kind of extra step of adding the article to another thing every time after I clip it will get boring fast and I'll give up the system.

 

I can definitely understand that. Sometimes one little extra step is enough to keep me from doing something all together :)

Question: In the webclipper (as far as I can tell) there actually is not a tag browser, am I not seeing it? What I see you type the tag and it autofills. 

 

Haha….this is a bit crazy. Based on your comments, it sounds like you are using a Mac. I spend my day split between a Mac and a PC. I use the Mac as much as possible, but am forced to use the PC once in a while for work, and minimize its use as much as possible. So, I use EN cross-platform (that is a good reason for it, right?) and the implementation of features across those two platforms is crazy!!! But, I won’t get into that.

 

On the Mac, I just use Safari, because it works and I like it. I have never tried the web clipper on chrome for Mac, but assumed it was like the PC version. Obviously not. Just tried it out, and it works just like you described. On the Chrome for PC web clipper, it has a visual note tree, instead of the auto fill thing. Sorry about the mis-information :(

 

Whatever you come up with, please share it with us. It is very interesting!

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Let me ask:  Why not rely on Tags to for the "drill down" process into your notebooks?  I used to separate notes into multiple and multiple notebooks, because I wanted to be able to find things quickly when information was needed.  Now I have what I consider major notebooks (Vendor, Projects, Prospects and major customers), within each are multiple notes.  Searching for tags legs me get the micro detail out of the macro of notebooks quickly.  

 

And, can't you do notebook stacks in EN for iOS?  

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No...I'm on a PC on Chrome. Are you using the new clipper (a bar down the side) or the old one (a box in the upper corner)? I'm on the new one.

.....

Rgrenader, I know tags can be used the way you are describing but I've actually explained several times in this thread why this wont work for me: I can not memorize that many tags (I'd need a cpl dozen at least) nor remember which tag I chose out of all related words as many of the topics I research are medical or involve names I can't spell.

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I just started using Evernote after trying Microsoft OneNote (it came with the computer). I like Evernote better except for one thing - OneNote has a "sections" feature - so you can have Notebook/Sections/Notes. Makes a big difference because then you can have different kinds of notes grouped together but still in one notebook. I don't want to end up with a million notebooks. I just sent feedback to Evernote about this... maybe if lots of people do they'll add this feature.

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I just started using Evernote after trying Microsoft OneNote (it came with the computer). I like Evernote better except for one thing - OneNote has a "sections" feature - so you can have Notebook/Sections/Notes. Makes a big difference because then you can have different kinds of notes grouped together but still in one notebook. I don't want to end up with a million notebooks. I just sent feedback to Evernote about this... maybe if lots of people do they'll add this feature.

 

Welcome to the forums.  If you find Sections specially useful,  you should look into Stacks which do pretty much the same thing in Evernote.  If you hang around here for a while you'll also find that while Evernote are -of course- interested in discussions here on the forums,  they do have a habit of doing their own thing when it comes to new features.  Whether or not "lots of people" ask for Sections it really won't make any difference unless there are good commercial and business reasons for adding them.

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