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The Qodesmith

The Secret Weapon VS GTD & Evernote for Windows (David Allen)

175 posts in this topic

Most folks who use David Allen's GTD (Getting Things Done) productivity system with Evernote have heard of The Secret Weapon by Braintoniq. David Allen and the good people over at GTD have their own setup guide (for $10) where they show you how to set up Evernote for use with GTD - GTD & Evernote For Windows.

 

I have not purchased the GTD product, but I've seen many forum members here have. How does it work verses Braintoniq's The Secret Weapon? Is it worth the $10? I'd like to avoid redundancy here. I've set up Evernote using TSW technique with some tweaks of my own, but feel it could be better. Wondering if David Allen's guide is substantially different, offering a new or alternative approach, or if they're pretty much the same thing.

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Hi - I've got nothing on a comparison of the various methods,  but I will tell you one GTD secret that they both missed.  If you find something is working for you,  even if sub-optimally,  don't spend time comparing notes or tweaking.  You can waste far more time playing and comparing than you ever could working inefficiently.  Unless there's something basically failing in the method you use,  just get on and do the work...

 

I appreciate the response, but that didn't answer my question. Let me be the judge of what's an efficient use of my time ;).

 

So anybody else have any experience with the 2 methods of using EN with GTD? What's their differences? Which do you prefer and why?

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Anyone else with some thoughts on the topic? I'd really like to know if there's a content difference between the product selling on David Allen's website and the free Secret Weapon pdf.

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I appreciate the response, but that didn't answer my question. Let me be the judge of what's an efficient use of my time ;).

 

 

ROFL . . . . . you were just talking to one of my personal GODS of Evernote. Gazump knows more about how to organize in Evernote than almost anyone else on here

 

It might have been Gazump that pointed me to this website a few years back http://ruudhein.com/evernote-gtd

 

It has been my bible, it was free and I *think* it was one of the sources that David Allen used before he wrote his booklet --Having said that. After 3 years of using Evernote for GTD  I second Gazump said regarding methodologies. --  . ..

 

 . .. . . I know .. . .I know .. . . I didn't answer your question either.

 

Let me save you the time to post  . . .I will do it for you . . ."Next"

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I'm not seeing how this is that difficult to answer. Just want some input from folks who have both tried The Secret Weapon AND the Evernote For Windows by David Allen. Trying to see if there's a difference in methodology. I seriously don't understand why this is a controversial question. If you don't have an answer, please, no disrespect, but try and refrain from "just get on and do the work" or "next". Thanks.

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It's not difficult or controversial.  It might just be that no one has tried both and you may have to blaze that trail yourself.

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It's not difficult or controversial.  It might just be that no one has tried both and you may have to blaze that trail yourself.

 

@ Quest the Wordsmith; Then let this forum know your findings. Remember: if you want input you're most likely to get it if you give something too. In this case you'll have to give something 1st to get something back later :)

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I have the e-book you're talking about. And I read some time ago TSW manifesto.

About the GTD Evernote e-book:

It begin with a condensed version of the GTD workflow, with brief explanation of the weekly review, a workflow chart, etc...

The book then explain how to setup Evernote and how to capture item in Evernote. I understand you know how to use Evernote since you use TSW, so there's nothing new here.

The difference is: The GTD ebook structure is based entirely on notebooks, notebook stacks and reminders vs TSW that is based a lot on tags. You basically get a inbox notebook, a next actions stack with a notebook for each context: call notebook, agenda notebook, work notebook etc. this, and the project, support material and reference notebooks.

SO, the real debate between these two system In my own opinion: tags or notebook for organization. The answer isn't clear, since it depends on how big and flexible your system need to be.

I personally use ideas that came from both of these system.

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I am a modified TSW user myself, as productive as my discipline allows on any given day, week, or month.  If someone were to tell me that the prime difference between TSW and GTD Evernote e-book is tags versus notebooks, I would stick with TSW and do whatever tweaks you need to get comfortable.  If that doesn't work, just spend the $10 and see for yourself.  

 

But as gazumped says, you can spend so much time getting efficient you become inefficient.  Your journey.

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Thanks to cdagenais and csihilling for actually answering (the not tough at all) question. So basically, the workflow difference is TSW uses tags and the GTD EN e-book uses notebooks. That being said, I feel confident to stick with TSW and tweak it to my liking. Thanks guys.

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Hi Quest The Wordsmith - just seen your question about GTD and EN.

 

I found The Secret Weapon a couple of years ago as well as Rudd Hein, David Gold, David Warn, Darren Crawford, and a few others.

 

(On my blog I describe how I apply GTD using Evernote, and I also list these, and other, sources.)

As another poster mentions, David Allen's book recommends using a lot of notebooks. I prefer keeping it simple and I use mainly just two notebooks – To do and Filing – and also as few tags as possible.

You are right, The Secret Weapon does have a few deficiencies, not least no mention (when I last went there) of how to deal with projects.

Anyway, the system I have got set up for myself now and is the best time management system I've ever implemented (at last - it's about my fourth go of implementing GTD!)

I'm always tweaking it and "tweaking my time management approach" is one of my ongoing projects. I know another poster says that might be a waste of time – but for me it's not. Firstly, I enjoy it, and secondly it makes me more efficient. I do limit the time spent doing it, however.

For example, I'm currently experimenting with using the Kanban approach of doing tasks – which is a method developed by Toyota. This is basically where you have three columns for tasks; To do, Doing, and Done, and you move tasks between the columns. You can easily make this a little more sophisticated with benefit.

I'm finding that using this approach for the top 30 or so tasks definitely improves my productivity, especially if combined with using the Pomodoro technique (where you work the 25 minutes, and then rest for five. This really improves concentration.).

Good luck and, I say, keep tweaking you time management method - to make it more efficient. Yay!

 

Malc

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I too discovered that the main difference is tagging vs notebooks. I spent the $10 but soon found that I was unhappy with the notion many notebooks and the idea of copying tasks and moving them around. I prefer TSW's approach and reasons why tagging is superior and more efficient, allowing each note to have a unique and specific context. That and you only move a note once, which is to the 'Cabinet' or too a Completed notebook from the Action Pending notebook. The power of viewing your information based on the context you provide through filtering.

 

TSW soon may bring a 'project' method forward which I would appreciate. 

 

I picked up Brett Kelley's PDF Evernote Essentials and Michael Hyatt's free Toolbox PDF. They provided much insight and many additional options, tools that are available, however, both do not use Evernote for Task Managing or Project Managing. This may be because they have larger teams. Perhaps the reason for Evernote's Business version. Michael Hyatt also promotes the use of Tagging for reasons mentioned earlier. However as I get further into Dave Allen's GTD I am thinking that perhaps if I truly walk GTD, I can actually use Evernote to manage projects and tasks by fully embracing the principles of GTD and truly keep things as simple as possible instead of busying myself with more applications to learn and increased complexity. I want to keep in check the tendency to complexity and the draw to the stimulation of stress which gives the sense of accomplishing much but in the end really just adds drama where it perhaps doesn't need to be. How about quietly getting things done and saving our passion for the celebration afterward and with our family, friends. After all the subtitle of Getting Things Done is "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity".  Stress-Free to me means that you're mind is freed up to be in a more creative and productive state and therefore raises the quality of what you actually get done. I may be thrilled with what I have accomplished but unless the client or partners feel the same, then I haven't really got the job done right?

 

I use Photoshop for images. Just Photoshop. In fact I use many Adobe Applications, but they usually just do one thing really, really well. So I'll end in asking, can we use Evernote alone to manage all our tasks and projects? 

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Hi Quest The Wordsmith - just seen your question about GTD and EN.

 

I found The Secret Weapon a couple of years ago as well as Rudd Hein, David Gold, David Warn, Darren Crawford, and a few others.

 

(On my blog I describe how I apply GTD using Evernote, and I also list these, and other, sources.)

As another poster mentions, David Allen's book recommends using a lot of notebooks. I prefer keeping it simple and I use mainly just two notebooks – To do and Filing – and also as few tags as possible.

You are right, The Secret Weapon does have a few deficiencies, not least no mention (when I last went there) of how to deal with projects.

Anyway, the system I have got set up for myself now and is the best time management system I've ever implemented (at last - it's about my fourth go of implementing GTD!)

I'm always tweaking it and "tweaking my time management approach" is one of my ongoing projects. I know another poster says that might be a waste of time – but for me it's not. Firstly, I enjoy it, and secondly it makes me more efficient. I do limit the time spent doing it, however.

For example, I'm currently experimenting with using the Kanban approach of doing tasks – which is a method developed by Toyota. This is basically where you have three columns for tasks; To do, Doing, and Done, and you move tasks between the columns. You can easily make this a little more sophisticated with benefit.

I'm finding that using this approach for the top 30 or so tasks definitely improves my productivity, especially if combined with using the Pomodoro technique (where you work the 25 minutes, and then rest for five. This really improves concentration.).

Good luck and, I say, keep tweaking you time management method - to make it more efficient. Yay!

 

Malc

 

KanBan is a system that was indeed developed by Toyota & subsequently adopted by many different industries. It was originally designed for a production/assembly environment & then adapted to different environments.

The most appropriate KanBan app for doing tasks seems to be Trello.

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KanBan is a system that was indeed developed by Toyota & subsequently adopted by many different industries. It was originally designed for a production/assembly environment & then adapted to different environments.

The most appropriate KanBan app for doing tasks seems to be Trello.

_____

 

Hi Pete - Personally I don't find Trello very user friendly. My favourite kanban tool is Kanbanery for looks and style; but I'm drawn towards Kanbanflow because of the built-in Pomodoro timer – which I find really useful for encouraging focus.

 

Anyway, different strokes for different folks...

 

Best, Malc

 

[Edit 30th September 2014: I am still using the Pomodoro every day - 19 days later - and it's really boosting my productivity. I was never attracted to using a 30 minute timer before – so didn't really get into using the Pomodoro. But being half an hour it really somehow boosts your motivation to get as many half hours done in the day as possible! I recommend you give it a try. And I'm still using Kanbanflow to implement this.]

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Just wanted to say thanks to all you posters in this thread.

I've been using Evernote sporadically for about a year and everything is a mess. I found GTD just the other day and thought that this must be good to implement in EN. A quick google and presto, found myself here :)

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Just wanted to say thanks to all you posters in this thread.

I've been using Evernote sporadically for about a year and everything is a mess. I found GTD just the other day and thought that this must be good to implement in EN. A quick google and presto, found myself here :)

 

A lot of people start of like that with Evernote – using it sporadically. I suppose I've used it for around 4-5 years now and it is literally the centre of my work and private life – I just use it to track and store everything. It's also the way I run my time management – with GTD - and it's the best system I've ever used. I call this "Timology". Other people have written about how to combine Getting Things Done and Evernote such as in The Secret Weapon, mentioned above, and the solution which inspired me, as well as Daniel Gold who has written a well-known book on the topic.

I have written in this post about Timology - how I combine GTD and Evernote.

Good luck with your own implementation – I hope you see it through!

Malc

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A lot of people start of like that with Evernote – using it sporadically. I suppose I've used it for around 4-5 years now and it is literally the centre of my work and private life – I just use it to track and store everything. It's also the way I run my time management – with GTD - and it's the best system I've ever used. I call this "Timology". Other people have written about how to combine Getting Things Done and Evernote such as in The Secret Weapon, mentioned above, and the solution which inspired me, as well as Daniel Gold who has written a well-known book on the topic.

I have written in this post about Timology - how I combine GTD and Evernote.

Good luck with your own implementation – I hope you see it through!

Malc

 

I did as many recommend, jumped in with both feet and I implemented the TSW thing for starters and added some of your great tweaks. What I'm wondering now is what do I do with all my OLD tags :D how do people organize the cabinet notebook? 

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>I did as many recommend, jumped in with both feet and I implemented the TSW thing for starters and added some of your great tweaks. What I'm wondering now is what do I do with all my OLD tags :D how do people organize the cabinet notebook? 

 

 

 

Hi 242 - congrats on doing that! And thanks for liking some of my tweaks :)

 

When I started developing Timology, my time management system, which I was inspired to do by The Secret Weapon, I had hundreds of flipping tags that I had been accumulating since I started using Evernote. (This wasn't 4 to 5 years ago, as I said previously, it was actually 2007. And I had a lot of tags.)

I thought about what I should do and realised that I very often didn't use tags – because the search function of Evernote was so good. I also realised that scores of my tags had only been used for one or two or three notes. So they certainly weren't well used.

So I just deleted the whole lot and started over again.

It was a big step – but I didn't regret it.

Now, I just tag only if I have to - or if I am tagging because the note is within my Timology system. (Some of my "cabinet" notebook – I call it Filing – is general filing, and the rest of it relates to my time management. For example, project support material I will have tagged with a project name, which I preface with asterisk - * - which makes Evernote's search keep them together.)

I'd say getting on for half of my filed Notes have no tags at all. Some of the rest have "Timology tags" to help with time management.

I attach an image of some of my filing items and you can see a number of them are not tagged at all.

I hope this helps, and keep up the good work, using Evernote for time management!

Malc

 

EN-Filing.jpg

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...  What I'm wondering now is what do I do with all my OLD tags :D how do people organize the cabinet notebook? 

 

 

If you haven't stumbled across this thread yet it gives a lengthy but pretty complete view of both sides of the tagging fence and may give you further ideas.

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Soooo.... I've recently revisited Evernote + GTD, did a quick google search, and came across my own thread! Lol. Anyway, my original question was answered and I'm not interested in looking into David Allen's implementation of GTD with EN (using tons of notebooks). I'm happy with the baseline system that TSW establishes.

 

As I read some of the posts above (it's been a while since I've been here) I realize that I'm running into the same issue others were having with TSW & EN: projects. @HeyMalc, I read your blog post and indeed, that helped to understand projects a bit more. I have two main tags for projects: .Projects.Acti​ve and .Projects.Inactive, both of which I now nest specific project names under. So thank you for that.

 

I think TSW really needs to be updated, especially the videos. That would be great to have a 2015 version. One thing that I found that TSW instructed to do, but failed to explain, was the tag Read / Review. The structure looked something like this:

 

  • .What
    • .Projects.Active
    • .Projects.Inactive
    • Read / Review

My first thought was the Read / Review tag would be useful for articles that I wanted to read but didn't have time to at the moment. Or perhaps a book I'm intending on reading. But couldn't that just be filed under .Pojects.Inactive? If anyone has some insights on the Read / Review tag (or if you use something similar), I'm all ears.

 

Other than that, I'm tweaking my EN + GTD system to my liking and have recently begun an overhaul of my old tag system as some have mentioned above.

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My take was to use a !Read tag for items to be read and a !Review tag as an indeterminate tickler. After a bit I morphed !Review to !Weekly, !Monthly, and !Quarterly. I use these tags to remind me to look at certain notes on the prescribed period. I hit the !Monthly tag and a list of notes appears mostly reflecting things I am trying to improve or change. One of which, for example, would be Drucker's eight practices. It helps to reload concepts for me. FWIW.

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A nice feature of EN that I hope won't go away is the "Note History" screen which lets you see most changes over time to a note. This is important for auditing in GTD - in the rare cases when something falls through the cracks (even GTD isn't perfect) auditing/history is very helpful to figure out what happened.

 

However, if you move a note from one notebook to another, the history of that note does not move to the new notebook, i.e. it disappears without warning. So, following TSW you will be able to keep your note history somewhat, at least while you are working on the task, since you use tags to indicate context while the action item note remains stays in the Actions Pending notebook until it is completed or archived. With some of the other systems that use multiple notebooks for action items, the history disappears every time an action item changes context.

 

So, that is one other consideration when deciding between TSW and other GTD cookbooks for Evernote.

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I've been using Evernote as a depository for years but have recently been reading David Allens book on GTD. I had tried it before but hadn't read the book so I gave up. Now that I've read the book I'm going to give it a go again and commit..

Now, the decision on which system to use. Tsw, Crawfords, DEG Consulting (Daniel Gold), or other like David Allen's own system.

Is tsw up to date? Has anyone bought the $5 one from DEG? Tag based?

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My general view on GTD systems is that there's no 'one size fits all' solution.  The complexity of your needs,  the number of people with whom you interact,  your preferences,  and how much time and effort you have available to maintain a system will indicate whether a very simple,  or a very complex solution may be required.  My preference is for the simplest solution possible - I want to spend time doing work,  not planning it.

 

Evernote doesn't have a calendar so you may need to integrate a third-party app to provide that function,  and lots of us "more experienced" users seem to use apps like Swipes / TickTick / Wunderlist / Any.do - some of which have Evernote integrations,  and all of which can have a task linked to an Evernote note.

 

Following DA's advice to use the bits of GTD that work for me,  I just get things down in Evernote or (in my case) TickTick to get them out of my head.  They either have a date priority,  or they're sorted into 3 categories:  Now / Soon / Sometime.  I'll deal with today's date priorities first,  which normally overlaps with the "Now" category anyway;  then down the list of "Soon"s,  and if there's any time or inclination left,  I get to my "Sometime"s.

 

I'd suggest you start out as simply as you can,  and add extra layers as and when they seem essential to build up your own personalised system.

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