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Ryq G

Ending Entropy

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I've been using Evernote for a bit and love it.  My new project will involve scanning (or downloading) every instruction manual for products.  I can get rid of about a foot's worth of manuals.  Besides, when I want to see how to cook brown rice in the pressure cooker, I can find it here faster than finding the manual.  But the real task is hat hand.  I'm a bit scatterbrained at times.  I need to organize my schedule (calendar) and Reminders/Todos.  Right now I've got:

  1. notes and postits all over.
  2. I get emails and Flag them so I can attend to them later.
  3. There are folders with bills to pay, papers to fill out, and things I need to drop off/pick up.
  4. I've got a calendar with appointments.  I've tried putting some reminders or todos on the calendar (with alarms).
  5. I've got some things in Reminders. (Mac)
  6. I may dictate a note to my iphone, or take a photo of something as a reminder to do something.
  7. I've got research and writing projects that exist in Word Documents.

What I need to do is to get it all in ONE easy to maintain system.  Some things have due dates.  Other things fit into a high/medium/low system.  Some are complex (finish taxes), and some are simple (cancel my subscription to x by a certain date).  I can categorize them by date or by area of life (business, hobbies, personal), or by priorities.  I have switched the way I organize things--put them all int he calendar, put a paper with important activities on my desk.  I've emailed myself then flagged it with a due date.

I can use multiple systems if somehow I can tie them all together.  I started playing with Reminders here, but it seems each note can only have one date.  So my todo list must all be due at the same time.  How might I use Evernote to assist?  I want one system to organize everything.

I use a Macbook Pro and an iPhone.

Help me focus and keep organized.  

 

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Hi.  My favorite mantra is 'start simple'.  There are some very flexible GTD schemes out there,  with tags,  contexts,  priorities and measures of difficulty,  but unless you're managing a huge project and several people,  you'll spend more time keeping your scheme details up to date than actually working on tasks.  Plus;  no-one can design a system which completely fits your individual situation,  and which you can follow without having to consult the manual for that scheme.

The bad news is that most of us here (I think) use third-party software for dated items and lists.  Evernote,  as you've noted,  isn't great at dates and reminders beyond Created, Updated and one Reminder per note.  So your dream of one application for everything is going to stay a dream for the moment.

The one bit of GTD I do follow closely is "write it down".  Tasks are much safer written down than floating around your head,  getting in the way of what you actually should be doing now.  Plus I am of the more 'mature' persuasion,  and what's in my head on the way into a room isn't always there on the way out...

I have one stack with four notebooks - 1-3 are NOW!! / Soon / someday in which to categorise tasks.  Each major task gets a note.  Those with a date I can then post in my task manager app using the note link to the entries together.  That's it.  Review notebooks and tasks regularly,  and move the completed ones to a Done notebook.

The overhead is minimal,  and you can edit your task details from either the task management app (by jumping to the note in Evernote) or from EN itself.

Have a search around the forums for GTD and to-do threads - there are lots of links and suggestions here ,  but as I said up front;  I recommend you start with something simple and see how you go.  As you get more used to Evernote you'll find other ways of doing things,  and you may prefer tags to notebooks in some cases.  You have complete freedom to experiment and to change. - And you can always ask here for more suggestions.

Good luck!

PS another recent thread that might help - https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/94550-about-gtd-evernote/

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18 hours ago, Ryq G said:

 I need to organize my schedule (calendar) and Reminders/Todos....Help me focus and keep organized.

I use Evernote because I like to keep everything in one place.
I have three organization steps Collection, Process, Do

1. Collection
    - I dump everything into my Inbox notebook, tasks, clippings, etc.  
      I may process the note then or later in a mass cleanup
    - make sure all my task/todo items are in Evernote;
      as separate notes and tagged - I use !Actionable
    - These may be

  • Indiviual tasks
  • Project tasks;
    • the tasks are flagged with the project name so they can be reviewed together
    • I have a master project note that includes links to the task notes
    • One process I picked up from GTD is to not focus a huge task list and priorities
      Focus on the Next Action.  When a task is completed - identify the Next Action

2. Process

  • I have a saved search Process-Inbox
    - I tag notes as !Actionable, or other classifications such as ?Who, !What/.Commonplace, @Where 
    - I move notes from my Inbox notebook to my Filing notebook
  • I have a saved search Process_Actionable
    - it identifies all tasks with no priority tag
    - I assign a priority to the tasks in terms of when they are required
    - I use tags When Now, When Soon, When Later, When Someday,
      When Scheduled, When Waiting
  • Scheduled tasks have a reminder date assigned, which is transfered to my calendar
  • There are also project reviews; new tasks may be identified, and When priorities may be identified

3. Do

  • each day I create a Daily Journal note
    - I need this because I can't work from just search lists
      I have to have organized sections and items sorted 
    - it includes a task section consisting of note links
      these are generated with saved searches Now and Soon
      I also have a saved search Later, but I only look at it when I've exhausted the Now and Soon priorities

Tools
- Saved searches listed in my shortcuts bar
- Applescript and IFTTT recipe to start my daily journal note
- Templates for daily journal and project master notes
- Email to Evernote
  On my iPad, I just forward my email to my Evernote address
  On my Mac, I have a tool to do a more direct transfer
- Calendar Collector from Cronofy which automatically creates a calendar event when I add a Reminder date

 

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Here's a post from a previous thread with some ideas.

 

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Thanks to everyone!  So many options.  

I think at this time, the best approach for me is to work as much as possible in Evernote (once I decide my organizational model), and use Calendar (Mac) for appointments.    It's in keeping with both the KISS philosophy and the cheapskate philosophy. 

But I also see that people use TSW, iCal, IUP, Calendar Collector, Phase Express, IQTell, IFTTT, Wunderlist, the Secret Weapon, and Taskclone.  Whew.  I can look at it as an embarrassment of riches or information overload.

I've noticed multiple references to what i might call commands (?) such as: !Today, remindertime and stack.  Are these commands or metatags IN Evernote?  Or are from one of these other programs?  I've yet to use tags or stacks.  (More homework!)

Somehow the expression, "Drinking from the firehose" comes to mind. ;)

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4 minutes ago, Ryq G said:

I've noticed multiple references to what i might call commands (?) such as: !Today, remindertime and stack.  Are these commands or metatags IN Evernote?

When I reference !Today it means a saved search.  Remindertime is a value in EN that references the date/time for the reminders.  For example the !Today search is remindertime:day -remindertime:day+1 -reminderdonetime:*.  So rather than typing all that all the time I have a saved search in the shortcuts bar. 

Just to confuse things, ;), !Today can also be a tag and/or a notebook if you like.  A lot of personal preference as to how you set up and name your EN. 

Stack is a grouping of notebooks.  Not so much commands and metatags in EN.  Basic components are notebooks, stacks, tags and saved searches. 

Just jump in and play for a bit.  It should become clear as you go.

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ical, Mac Calendar, IOS Calendar (iPad, iPhone) and iCloud Calendar are the same thing

TSW (The Secret Weapon) is a learning site.  Wouldn't want to add to the information overload, but they have nicely demonstrate procedures with simple videos that walk you through the tasks

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If you're looking to use GTD as your organization system, IMHO nothing beats the setup suggested in David Allen's official Evernote guide. I recommend splurging the $10 to grab a copy, but if you want the bare bones of it, it's:

Notebooks:

  • Inbox (unsorted notes)
  • Action Lists (stack with the below notebooks inside)
    • Agendas (tasks where you need others to be present to complete them)
    • Home
    • Computer
    • Errand
    • Etc. (other Contexts you might use, like "mom's house" or "work")
    • Someday (things you'd like to tackle at some point, just not in the immediate future)
    • Waiting For (things you can't act on until something else happens)
    • Projects (Each project gets a Note in here, with Note links of related items, tasks saved for later, etc.)
  • Reference (file storage, essentially. Passive notes)

Each task gets a note. If it's a task you can immediate act upon, put it in the Actions list for the correct Context; for example, "Reply to email from Jonas RE: lawn care" would go under Computer, "Change oil in car" under Errand, etc.

Put any details about a project in the Project Note. You can link to other notes, add files to it, etc. but you want all of your project details in one place.

Once per week, go through every single list and look at every single item. This is non-negotiable; not doing this will mean things slip through the cracks or get forgotten. When you are at a context, open the proper notebook and look at every task before choosing one. Again - non-negotiable. Things WILL be forgotten otherwise.

I also put a Reminder (dateless) on a task if it should be done ASAP, versus whenever. Then it pops to the top of the list, always in sight. Tasks that should be done on a certain day should be on your calendar.

Once you complete a task, delete or archive it. I often delete, but if it's got files and such I want to keep for later, I change the title to reflect how I want to store it and then stick it in the Reference notebook.

And that's pretty much the system I use for my personal task management. I use Trello at work because my job is incredibly deadline-centric and it's also our intranet, but at home I love the simplicity of the Evernote system. I find TSW way too complicated; as David Allen says, "One of the keys to making GTD work is to keep it simple––because simple is more sustainable. I've seen many people overbuild their systems and processes to the point where it would take 5 cups of coffee, the perfect moment in the day, and totally clear head space to successfully work it. It's a set up for failure. GTD is your game to play. Set yourself up to win."

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10 minutes ago, chirmer said:

Action Lists (stack with the below notebooks inside)

  • Agendas (tasks where you need others to be present to complete them)
  • Home
  • Computer
  • Errand
  • Etc. (other Contexts you might use, like "mom's house" or "work")
  • Someday (things you'd like to tackle at some point, just not in the immediate future)
  • Waiting For (things you can't act on until something else happens)
  • Projects (Each project gets a Note in here, with Note links of related items, tasks saved for later, etc.)

 

This gave me a shudder.
Do you not use tags and saved searches?

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Just now, DTLow said:

This gave me a shudder.
Do you not use tags and search lists?

Why would I? Tags are incredibly complicated, especially on mobile. This is the simplest solution with the exact same results.

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20 minutes ago, chirmer said:

Why would I? Tags are incredibly complicated, especially on mobile. This is the simplest solution with the exact same results.

It does make it simpler.

0ne reason for tags is that it allows me different views of my tasks

For example, tasks due now/soon/later; tasks  by project etc without having to duplicate the notes to put them onto different lists.

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55 minutes ago, DTLow said:

It does make it simpler.

0ne reason for tags is that it allows me different views of my tasks

For example, tasks due now/soon/later; tasks  by project etc without having to duplicate the notes to put them onto different lists.

I use tags to link project files/tasks together, which is handy. But I don't use time-sensitive tags (now, soon, later) because I've never, ever found them to work long-term for me. I get irritated by them, having to swap tasks back and forth as priorities change. Once I stopped using them, I didn't miss them.

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On 3/2/2016 at 0:42 PM, chirmer said:

I use tags to link project files/tasks together, which is handy. But I don't use time-sensitive tags (now, soon, later) because I've never, ever found them to work long-term for me. I get irritated by them, having to swap tasks back and forth as priorities change. Once I stopped using them, I didn't miss them.

 

On 3/2/2016 at 11:44 AM, DTLow said:

It does make it simpler.

0ne reason for tags is that it allows me different views of my tasks

For example, tasks due now/soon/later; tasks  by project etc without having to duplicate the notes to put them onto different lists.

 

I see the value in both these approaches really. I'm currently using chirmer's method simply because I was trying to start GTD with Evernote and that was recommended on the David Allen site. Spending a lot of time swapping tags could get frustrating with the time sensitive tags. However, the multiple tag filtering is excellent to look at exactly what you want. 

I'm currently trying to evaluate a hybrid approach, because I have concerns about the scalability of the notebook approach. The goal is to look at exactly what I need to in a given time period, but not lose track of other notes that belong in a given category, and lastly not spend a significant amount of time managing tags as this would probably fall apart for me over time. 

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1 hour ago, Alan Herriman said:

I'm currently using chirmer's method simply because I was trying to start GTD with Evernote...

Thats valid - there is no wrong method, and even better method is subjective for different people.

Various methods have been put forward in this discussion,
but people should only implement what they're comfortable with.
No one should be feel compelled to implement a process in its entirety, and then be overwhelmed or irritated by it.
Just pick out points that work for you.

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