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Mashugana

Need advice for organizing dozens of different interests/projects

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Sorry for the long post but I need help from gurus like y'all.  I am shockingly organized at work - I am an IT Agile/Scrum Project Manager.  I can manage the data, next steps, and resources for multiple different.

 

But I cannot organize information on my own hobbies.  It's sad, really.

 

I usually have 10-20 interests that I bounce between (I am an ADD poster child).  For example, over the course of 2013 I was interested in:

  • Bible history research
  • Ancinet history
  • Container gardening
  • Tips to write a novel
  • Agile project methodology
  • Must read fiction
  • Productivity tips
  • Vacation spots
  • Research to build a new PC

I'd like to be able to capture data as I go (Evernote's strength).  Then If I lose interest in a topic for a year I can come back and pick up where I left off.  I'd envision some kind of to-do list for each interest so I can see what I wanted to do next in the area, notes, images, articles, etc.

 

I use Evernote extensively and understand how to use tags, notebooks, sub-notebooks, and keyword search (I am a Premium sub so I can search anything).  But I just cannot get an organization structure that works.  I need the right combination of Notebook, tag, and note hierarchy and org to make it all click.

 

Thanks for any tips or advice.  We can call this "Even people with ADD can be organized with Evernote."

 

:)

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My own approach:

 

So I don't want to spend my life organizing my notes. Some simple organization, a little tagging is good, I'll let text search do the rest.

 

So first, figure out the notebook thing: this is a gross division of notes into separate partitions, driven mainly by Evernote's capabilities (i.e., there's no other way to do this in Evernote):

* if I need to share a group of notes with someone else (usually personal account <==> work account), that's a notebook

* if I want a group of notes available for offline use on a mobile device, that's a notebook

* if I want a group of notes to not be synced on a desktop client, that's a notebook

 

There are no sub-notebooks in Evernote, but you can use stacks to organize notebooks.  Nothing too magic about that, and it's mainly just for convenience sake. Stacks can be ad hoc, even (makes for easier searching sometimes).

 

Tagging for me is not particularly fine-grained. Generally the aim is to be able to narrow down a search to a small number of notes, and then I just pick the one that I want. Tags give me that. Figure out your top-level tags: I do software development, I do music (hand percussion), so those are obvious main categories. Personal stuff is another, so is Work. I have a Todo top-level tag; nice to be able to pull those out easily. Sub-categorize as desired. Holding steady at ~200 tags. Also, I never browse my notes via the tag tree. For things that are important ~now~, I make a saved search and save it as a shortcut. When it cools down, I remove it from my shortcuts, so I can keep that list small (Principle of Seven Plus or Minus Two).

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If you already know how to use tags and notebooks and stacks, then it seems like just a matter of committing to a system that works for you conceptually. This is something that you kind of need to figure out for yourself. I and others here could offer some basic, general strategies, but you'll have to figure out what works best for you. 
 

I would avoid making too many notebooks. This often results in making things harder to find. Some users here only use a single notebook to organize thousands of notes. I personally organize about six work-related projects, several elements of my personal and household life, as well as all of my travel in about 8 notebooks (this includes a few app-created notebooks like "penultimate"). I am in the process of downsizing even more.

 

Of your interests, anything that can be combined should be combined. 

 

from there, just make strategic use of tags. 

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...and in addition to the above;  Evernote won't lose your information,  so you can change horses after a few weeks if you suddenly have a brilliant idea that's better than the method you choose.  The important thing is to get started you may well find a better way to handle things in a week or two,  and you might have to re-process some notes in the process - each time you consider that,  there will be a cost-benefit balance that eventually will fall firmly in favour of keeping the method you have because changing things (again) is just too much hassle.  But a few changes are good - you'll get the experience of different approaches and be able to choose the one that's genuinely the best for you.

 

I'm much lazier than anyone else in saving notes.  99.99% of my notes are in one notebook,  and most of them don't have tags.  I just use titles - <date> - <source> - <description> - <details> - and load as many descriptive words into the details as necessary.  If you added a note about one of your interests forinstance you could add 'fiction' as a keyword in the details slot.  An evernote search for "intitle:fiction" will then give you all the notes you've gathered on that subject.  If at a later date you decide to split up your notes by genre you could use tags to flag 'crime' and 'action' and then search for "intitle:fiction tag:action" to limit your search.

 

(You'll gather a bit of time spent exploring the search feature is very well spent...)

 

Hope that helps...

 

:)

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Ah, yes, as for "archiving" or "putting aside", I have a stack called zArchive (the z keeps it at the bottom of my list at all times). This is where I place any projects or notebooks that are no longer needed but which I may want to pull something from in the future.  The zArchive name means it is always down at the bottom and out of the way, and because it is a stack I can always exclude all of its contents from searches with -stack:zArchive 

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Sorry for the long post but I need help from gurus like y'all.  I am shockingly organized at work - I am an IT Agile/Scrum Project Manager.  I can manage the data, next steps, and resources for multiple different.

 

But I cannot organize information on my own hobbies.  It's sad, really.

 

I usually have 10-20 interests that I bounce between (I am an ADD poster child).  For example, over the course of 2013 I was interested in:

  • Bible history research
  • Ancinet history
  • Container gardening
  • Tips to write a novel
  • Agile project methodology
  • Must read fiction
  • Productivity tips
  • Vacation spots
  • Research to build a new PC
I'd like to be able to capture data as I go (Evernote's strength).  Then If I lose interest in a topic for a year I can come back and pick up where I left off.  I'd envision some kind of to-do list for each interest so I can see what I wanted to do next in the area, notes, images, articles, etc.

 

I use Evernote extensively and understand how to use tags, notebooks, sub-notebooks, and keyword search (I am a Premium sub so I can search anything).  But I just cannot get an organization structure that works.  I need the right combination of Notebook, tag, and note hierarchy and org to make it all click.

 

Thanks for any tips or advice.  We can call this "Even people with ADD can be organized with Evernote."

 

:)

 

I tend to use more notebooks than a lot of the other long time users. But there is a limit on the number of sync'd ntoebooks you can have (250) and I've found that using tags, keywords & descriptive titles can eliminate the need for many, many notebooks. In fact, when doing my searches (to retrieve) info, most of the time, I'm searching across ALL notes b/c the EN search engine is that good.

However, when I'm rabidly working a project (IE researching a purchase), I will often create a temporary/working notebook for that project. That makes it a bit easier to take screen caps, which is often part of the process) or review the notes for the project. It also saves me from having to tag each & every note for that project. But then when I'm done, I'll create a tag for the project & assign it to all the applicable notes. Also make sure all notes have any necessary keywords added & have a descriptive title. I then move the notes to a more general notebook & then delete the temporary/working notebook.

Many of the topics you mention are what I'd use as tags & keep the notes in a more general notebook. IE - you have 'productivity tips'. When I'm not quite sure how to do something (IE "welding" two shapes together in a software application), I will make a note about how to do it & often include screen caps.  I don't need a separate notebook for those note.  I just tag them "tutorials", give it a descriptive title such as "how to weld in Silhouette Studio" & put them in the "everything else" notebook.  Then when I need to refer to it, I simply search across all notes (rather than the notebook it resides in b/c it's faster/easier when using the Windows client b/c there's a hot key for searching all notes) and use this search:

 

tag:tutorials weld

 

And that will display all my notes tagged with tutorials & have the word 'weld' in them.  If there are too many results & I need to refine the search, that can be done like this:

 

tag:tutorials intitle:weld

 

If I need to further refine the search...

 

tag:tutorials intitle:weld silhouette studio

 

Which displays only notes tagged tutorials, has the word 'weld' in the title and also contains the words 'silhouette' and 'studio' in them.

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Thank you!  I organize in a folder/subfolder kind of hiearchy.  What you are suggesting is a completely different way of thinking.  Instead of making things fit in folders, I just make sure I can search and find what I need when I need it.

 

That is a shift - and I really like it.

 

Very very helpful.  I can look at Evernote like the tool it is instead of some Widnows folder hierarcy.  And thet helps.

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Thank you!  I organize in a folder/subfolder kind of hiearchy.  What you are suggesting is a completely different way of thinking.  Instead of making things fit in folders, I just make sure I can search and find what I need when I need it.

 

That is a shift - and I really like it.

 

Very very helpful.  I can look at Evernote like the tool it is instead of some Widnows folder hierarcy.  And thet helps.

 

Yes, IMO/IME, using tags is MUCH more flexible than the old/traditional folders/sub-folders method that is used when storing files on media.

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Let's (please!) not start another discussion about the differences between the two,  but I've found that storing a lot of information in one 'pot' has allowed me to find connections that I didn't even know existed between different interests.  A clipping that I had quite forgotten making on banking (forinstance) might help me answer a question about planning a year or so down the line.  It takes a little getting used to,  but it's well worth the effort.  

 

(And, as far as we know, it's the only game in town!)

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Mashugana - I call the things (like "Bible History Research") that you named in your initial post on this "Topics". When you lose interest in a "Topic" and come back to it a year later, you will likely want to see all your Notes on that specific "Topic". Evernote's search function is very powerful. It will find the Notes that you previously created about that "Topic". 

 

The issue becomes, "How do you associate an Evernote Note to a specific "Topic". I believe there are only 4 methods. (Someone else monitoring this forum may be able to identify a 5th method). The methods are:

  • Create and dedicate a specific Notebook to the "Topic". Put the Note in that Notebook.
  • Establish a Tag for the "Topic". Assign the Tag to the Note.
  • Put the "Topic" in the title of the Note.
  • Put the "Topic" in the body of the Note.

or some combination thereof.

 

As the others who responded to your post indicated, the only way you can can figure out which method works best for you is to try some out.

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Mashugana - I call the things (like "Bible History Research") that you named in your initial post on this "Topics". When you lose interest in a "Topic" and come back to it a year later, you will likely want to see all your Notes on that specific "Topic". Evernote's search function is very powerful. It will find the Notes that you previously created about that "Topic".

The issue becomes, "How do you associate an Evernote Note to a specific "Topic". I believe there are only 4 methods. (Someone else monitoring this forum may be able to identify a 5th method). The methods are:

  • Create and dedicate a specific Notebook to the "Topic". Put the Note in that Notebook.
  • Establish a Tag for the "Topic". Assign the Tag to the Note.
  • Put the "Topic" in the title of the Note.
  • Put the "Topic" in the body of the Note.
or some combination thereof.

As the others who responded to your post indicated, the only way you can can figure out which method works best for you is to try some out.

5. Date created. This is really the key to my own system, though in combination with keywords in the title and body it really becomes powerful.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=367

When was I doing research on topic a? In March of last year? intitle:1303* "topic a" will find everything for me.

Of course, whatever system you use, familiarizing yourself with the advanced searches will save you a lot of time and effort in organizing. You'll likely find (as I have) that knowing the search capabilities helps you set up your account in a way that requires a lot less effort.

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5. Date created. This is really the key to my own system, though in combination with keywords in the title and body it really becomes powerful.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=367

When was I doing research on topic a? In March of last year? intitle:1303* "topic a" will find everything for me.

Of course, without needing to retitle, you can also do a search on "created:month-12 -created:month-11". Doesn't come as trippingly off the keyboard, I understand...
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5. Date created. This is really the key to my own system, though in combination with keywords in the title and body it really becomes powerful.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=367

When was I doing research on topic a? In March of last year? intitle:1303* "topic a" will find everything for me.

Of course, without needing to retitle, you can also do a search on "created:month-12 -created:month-11". Doesn't come as trippingly off the keyboard, I understand...

 

 

Definitely. That is just my system. In fact, even though I call myself a "minimalist," a true minimalist wouldn't bother titling anything. They'd just make a note and move on, expecting that they would be able to use some combination of search features to find it all whenever they want it. I have this particular system because I move my notes in and out of Evernote a lot (a long story about why), and unique titles make it far more convenient.

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@GM: Yup, just covering that particular base. :)

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