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SahilC

How do you prioritize tasks in Evernote?

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Hey there!

 

If you use Evernote as a GTD task manager, how do you prioritize tasks?

Under my .When tag, I have tags like 1-Next, 2-Weekend, etc etc. 

 

8Nl4XOn.png

 

However, under 1-Next, it's just a mess of tasks. Of course, I can organize them by .What (like :Homework, :Errands, etc), but what about things that don't fit in those categories?

 

I'd love to hear your ideas!

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SahilC - Here are some ideas. Consider whether they will improve activity management for you.

 

First, instead of thinking in terms of "Priority", think in terms of the "Sequence" in which you need to start working on something. This would lead to Tags such as:

     1-DoNow

     2-DoToday

     3-DoNext

     4-DoSomeDay

 

Second, "Waiting" is a "Status", not a "Priority". You could give each ToDo a second Tag. Applying this concept leads to "Status" Tags such as:

     S-Active

     S-Planned

     S-OnHold

     S-Waiting

 

Third, "ToDo" lists are typically "Task" oriented. This commonly causes people to focus on the trees and lose focus on the forest. An alternative is to manage "Projects", not "Tasks". You could create a Stack that has a Notebook for each "Project". Each "Project" Notebook would have several Notes. One of the Notes within each "Project" Notebook would be a list of "Tasks" for that "Project".

 

Fourth, Evaluate each of your ToDos on the the basis of "Importance" and "Urgency". Then, assign one of the following Tags to each "Task":

     E1-ImporantAndUrgent

     E2-NotImportantAndUrgent

     E3-ImportantAndNotUrgent

     E4-NotIMportantAndNotUrgent

The approach is to work on E1 tasks first, then E2, then E3. If you manage your activities properly, you will never find time to work on the E4 ToDos.

 

I hope you find one of these ideas to be helpful or one prompts something in your mind that works just right for you. 

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SahilC - Here are some ideas. Consider whether they will improve activity management for you.

 

First, instead of thinking in terms of "Priority", think in terms of the "Sequence" in which you need to start working on something. This would lead to Tags such as:

     1-DoNow

     2-DoToday

     3-DoNext

     4-DoSomeDay

 

Second, "Waiting" is a "Status", not a "Priority". You could give each ToDo a second Tag. Applying this concept leads to "Status" Tags such as:

     S-Active

     S-Planned

     S-OnHold

     S-Waiting

 

Third, "ToDo" lists are typically "Task" oriented. This commonly causes people to focus on the trees and lose focus on the forest. An alternative is to manage "Projects", not "Tasks". You could create a Stack that has a Notebook for each "Project". Each "Project" Notebook would have several Notes. One of the Notes within each "Project" Notebook would be a list of "Tasks" for that "Project".

 

Fourth, Evaluate each of your ToDos on the the basis of "Importance" and "Urgency". Then, assign one of the following Tags to each "Task":

     E1-ImporantAndUrgent

     E2-NotImportantAndUrgent

     E3-ImportantAndNotUrgent

     E4-NotIMportantAndNotUrgent

The approach is to work on E1 tasks first, then E2, then E3. If you manage your activities properly, you will never find time to work on the E4 ToDos.

 

I hope you find one of these ideas to be helpful or one prompts something in your mind that works just right for you. 

 

Thanks for your helpful reply! :)

 

The second and third options won't work for me for the simple reason that _lots_ of the random tasks I have don't fall into any sort of category or project. That will lead to me keep checking each project tag separately to make sure I'm not missing out on anything.

 

How would the first one work? I keep everything for today in 2-Today (regardless of priority) and then as I'm working on it put it in 1? <-- I don't see the benefit of putting something I'm already going to work on in 1-Now (let me know if I'm missing something!)

 

The fourth one is interesting, as I've been using something similar for a while. I made a .Priority tag, and under that I made #1Urgent, #2Important, and #3ShouldDo. And like you said, I usually don't get the time to get around to #3 or the tasks not assigned any priority.

 

 

 

 

I think my issue with this^^^ way was that, because my .When tags were 1-Today, 2-Tomorrow, 3-This Week, 4-This Month, 5-Someday, every day I'd have to move stuff from Tomorrow to Today, and things I didn't finish today I'd have to move to Tomorrow. Too much moving around. Also, 3, 4, and 5 kind of because the same thing - anything I couldn't do today or tomorrow.

 

This is SO difficult! But I can't rest until I find a system that works for me :'(

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SahilC - In regard to the first approach, if you work units (Tasks) require only minutes to do, then it isn't worth the extra effort to change a Tag to 1-DoNow. However, if your work units typically take hours to complete, then, if your are like most people, you will get interrupted multiple times before you complete that one task. In that case, using 1-DoNow may help get back to (find) what you were working on before all the interruptions. - - - Regardless, this is a person thing. Try one or more approaches and figure out what works best for you.

 

The point you made in your second to last paragraph is why I made the point in my previous post that "Sequence" maybe a better concept to wrap your Tagging method around.

 

Here's another idea. Instead of trying to start by defining a specific set of Tags, sit back and ask yourself, "What is the criteria upon which you decide what to work on next?" If you can answer that, then more than likely that criteria has different values (or levels). Those could be your Tags.

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@sahilc,

 

Based upon what you have listed above, perhaps a simple place to start would be add !Now as a tag and get the the priority stuff isolated.  Or replace 0-Ongoing with 0-Now if you want to keep the sequence.  Per @Analyst444 you may also want to have more than the 2 holding tanks you have now (Next and Someday).  There's a happy balance somewhere with the amount of work it takes to retag and the ability to gain focus.  It needs to be comfortable for you.

 

For myself, I prefix all of my GTD (actually TSW) tags with !, so I have !1-Now, !2-Next, !3-Soon, ... !6-Waiting, !7-Read and a couple of recurring tags !Weekly, !Monthly for review items.   That way whenever I do tag entry keying the ! brings up a drop down list of those tags.  FWIW. 

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Hi Sahil. It's so nice to hear from you again! Hope you're studies are going well?

I don't know if you've noticed any posts from a User - Frank.dg - who became very active on the forum late last year. (He make me look like a quiet poster of few words...lol!

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Thanks for the kind words @Wordsgood. Not sure about being a "super sweet" guy, haha! 

 

Sahil, you should be able to find the posts @Wordsgood was referring to here: productivitymashup.com

 

The setups I run through are most definitely GTD-based through and through... however not the typical incarnations one is used to seeing. I guess one is always biased toward something they set up, but at the very least you may find something within the way I have set up task management in Evernote that may tweak whatever system you use. I am constantly amazed at the variety of ways people are using Evernote for their workflows/ to-do's. You'd do well to take a serious look at a few different setups and then create a "mashup" that suits you best. No doubt, with a little bit of tinkering you'll most likely come up with your own tips that you'll be able to share shortly. 

 

Just keep doing what you've been doing. You'll never know how efficient or convenient any system is until you actually give it a real test drive. Theory is one thing, but the doing for days on end is another. 

 

The good thing is that you have tons of great people ready to tinker along with you, suggest and brainstorm.

 

Cheers!

 

P.S. About your "Next" mess... and certain items not fitting into categories... one small part of that solution could be to not assign some things categories as such... you could assign them to future "Date categories" just around the corner... put some of those things into a tickler file for the up-and-coming days. Then they don't need a category or context. I like to call this concept "Kanban Calendar", not only for the visual appeal, but more so for the ability that one has to limit their (current) work in progress by "pushing" tasks to a future (non-time-specific) date. 

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Sorry for the late reply, everyone! Thanks so much for your helpful feedback. I've taken a step back, and asked myself what am I really looking for in a task manager (I think that's a beauty of using EN for tasks!)

 

I ended up with -

1. I want a way to mark tasks to do "Next", but not be limited to calling them "Today", otherwise I'd have to reset the tag every single day.

2. I want a way to prioritize those "Next" tasks.

3. I need a way to defer a task to "Tomorrow".

4. I need a way to defer a task to another future date. 

5. I need to store the tasks I want to do sometime in the future, but I'm not sure when.

 

 w8y1Baa.png

 

For now, this seems to be working quite well for me.

 

  • Next actions are in "1-Next". They are all prioritzed with the tags under Priority. 
  • I am able to move things to "Tomorrow" if I know I can't do them today. (No point cluttering my list with things I physically cannot do!)
  • I'm able to move things to a later date with "3-Later" and put a reminder on them so that I know what date it needs to be done. (I do a daily check on "3-Later" just to make sure I'm not missing anything.

 

@Wordsgood - Thanks for your reply! Studies are going great! I'm at UMass Amherst in Massachusetts. :)

@Frank.dg - Thanks, I will definitely check out productivity mashup!

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A few other variables to consider in terms of priorities.

 

First GTD adds situational context to tasks. So if you are stuck waiting somewhere you can search for both next items and "read" or "phone" and take care of some reading or phone calls.

 

The other thing to consider is how long a task will take. This could influence your choice of a new task.

 

Finally you can consider how much mental energy you need to do a task. Some tasks are mostly pure grunt tasks that don't require a lot of mental energy (re-titling scanned documents for instance). While others might require laser focus. 

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Hi Sahil,

There's been some new posted added the below thread since I first recommended it to you last year. You might want to preuse them for more ideas:

https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/57603-how-i-use-evernote-as-a-task-manager-kinda-gtd/

Hey there!

If you use Evernote as a GTD task manager, how do you prioritize tasks?

Under my .When tag, I have tags like 1-Next, 2-Weekend, etc etc.

8Nl4XOn.png

However, under 1-Next, it's just a mess of tasks. Of course, I can organize them by .What (like :Homework, :Errands, etc), but what about things that don't fit in those categories?

I'd love to hear your ideas!

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