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kilavos

Black thoughts about notebooks, tags and tag synopsis

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There are some discussions during the last years e.g.
 
 
with a lot of convincing arguments, some good sample szenarios and statements -
but also some misunderstanding and conventionalism to different szenarios - anyway, that's how I understand Evernote and its features. 
 
What do I mean?
 
Basic considerations: in our private/office surroundings we are used to store a piece of paper in a tray, many papers in a folder, folders in racks etc. Physically (!) organized according to the categorie (shipping note, letter...), date (year...) etc.  Similar to groceries in the kitchen. These objects are real and in relatively small quantity. And we have a certain place in mind (folder, rack) where to store - and to find (!). But when the quantity increases to thousands (like in a stock) and furthermore gets virtual like in a database like Evernote. Organization is done not by physics, but by information management. Not a certain place is relevant for organization, but other items. As a result the objects (goods in stock, files in computer, data in database) are stored chaotically (files - even cut in pieces, the FAT knows ...). How to organize this chaos? Well, each object gets one or more flags with description(s) of the essential features (producer, type of device, identifier, ...).
 
What does this mean for Evernote? (The following items are valid - in my view - for those who use Evernote as a big database with occasional access  as for those with daily intensive use in conjunction with shortcuts/favorites...)
 
notebooks: there is no need for more than one=1 notebook (or only a few). As they do (should!) not have any relevance to organizational methods. Exception: (1) synced notebooks and local notebooks=no cloud=no syncing (2) notebook sharing in business version,  (3) archive (not necessarily), (4) temperary purpose (as shown below).
 
tags: they are the above mentioned flags. And - with an intelligent (!) nomenclatura - in a very effective manner. Name and structure of tags has to consider their handling:
(1) tagging=assign one ore more tags (2) search via task symbol or left column (Windows) or saved search (3) shortcut/favorite.
that means: criteria are (a) as few tags as possible (b) self-explanatory names (c) easy tagging via task bar icon (d) easy search via task bar icon
 
task hierarchy: this is a logical (!) synopsis where the user can build a structure of tags. It only is of logical interest with user-relevant topics. And this must be understood - for the behaviour of Evernote this structure is completely non-relevant. There is no effect if a tag is located in the 1. or 2. or...level n. 
And that means: there is no relationship between the logical tag structure/hierarchy and the mode of operation of the tags. Expressions like "nested tags", "child-tags", "parent-tags"  put the focus to an apperent properties which do not exist. (one implication following: the names of tags must be unique, even if they are located in different levels). You may swirl the above shown structure e.g. put all categories and tags in level 1: the logical structure is gone, but the tags work in the same way as before.
 
Example (extract) in consideration with my own tag synopsis: transferring  this blog via task bar icon to my Evernote I tag as follows:
 
.WHEN
 .WHAT                                                      = category 1. level
     .IT                                                          = category 2. level
           .IT_Evernote                                   = category 3. level
               IT_en_forum                              =   tag 4. level
               IT_en_literature
               IT_en_syntax
               IT_en_tag                                    = tag 4. level
          .IT_software
               IT_soft_windows10
          .IT_hardware
               IT_hard_SSD
     .projects
          .projects_active
               proj_2016_SchermElectronic_PreAmplifier
          .projects_finished
               xproj_2015_Beyerdynamics_DT880
.WHO
     .company
          comp_Microsoft
     .media
          media_NYT
          media_xyz
     .person
          pers_TMichael                              = tag 3. level
.WHERE
     .city
          city_washington
          city_london
 
 
Given tasks are bold faced. Three tags on 3. and 4. level - number of level doesn't make any difference
 
tags with a prefix (. oder @ or # ) are not used as tags - they are catagories, classes in order to organize in a logical/topical manner. tags are only those without any prefix. And these "real" tags are always in the highest level of the appropiate tree. Never the 1st oder 2nd in my synopsis.
 
The naming of the tags follows the class. "pers_TMichael" indicates, that the tag belongs to the class "person" (shortform "pers") and the name of the person is "TMaichael", separated by a "_" (do not use space, because of more difficult use in searches). This has advantages for tagging and searching procedure: input of "pers_" lists all task with this leading expression. Even for a list of all notes which have the "pers"-prefix: make a search like "tag:per_*" and you will get all notes with tagged as persons. (same with "tag:IT_en_*" shows all notes  with Evernote-tags). Advantage: the Evernote user only has to remember resp. keep in mind a small quantity of categories like "IT_en" or "pers", the rest will be listed by Evernote. Not hundreds or thousands of tags to remember.
 
The part ".projects" (every project contains a bunch of notes) will show two items: name of tag might contain catagory and more than one identifier to differ and inform as well. When the project ist finished, the tags gets the prefix "x" and is moved to the project_finished section. The according notes themselves are not  involved which is logical: this does belong organization and not the contant of the notes.  Thus one has access to all active projects with "proj_" and to finished projects with "xproj_". And how to manage a project with a bunch of notes? This is another question...remember the barkeeper in "Irma la Douce"?
 
 
With this tag naming I don't see any need for tagging the whole bunch of tags from the 1st up to the highest level proposed by JMichaelITX. There is no advantage but much more work. (even in case of listing all WHAT-notes one can do this with a temporary tag; but I don't think this is a realistic or often used szenario).
 
Thus said the pseudo NB tags  which are proposed by JMichaelITX do not make any sense in my opinion. The names in the first level in JMichaelITX's synopsis start with NB. What happens if you drop this NB and make it Business, Personal, IT etc. - nothing. Simulate the existance of notebooks which do not exist is  self-deception. It is more confusing than illustrative, the "NB" is an empty statement. I think it is better to change way of thinking and stop using notebooks for organization, even as pseudo or wannabe.
 
Last but not least: JMichaelITX mentioned the use or reminders with these pseudo NB-tags. But - what about using a search like "remindertime:*" or "remindertime:day -remindertime:day+2" or  "remindertime:year -remindertime:year+1"   and so on ? And if you use check boxes too: "-remindertime:day+2  remindertime:day-7  todo:false" will list tasks with reminders from last week till tomorrow. Transfer these and other saved searches to shortcuts and position them on top of the shortcut list. Done.
 
I agree,  this approach (tag naming etc.) is not new, often proposed and discussed in similar modes in this forum. Nevertheless my impression is that many users don't see the difference between tags themselves (function, importance, usage) and the nature, properties of the tag synopsis. As well as being proud to use no or only a few tags. Or flag  their notes with keywords  in the title. And so on..
 
Waiting for constructive criticism, counter-arguments, improvements, questions...
 
 
 
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One thing I might add is the benefit to tag organization (not pseudo structure) by using nested tags.  For example People could be the parent to all =Person tags.  Just a way to organize tags, not notes.  

That and there is not one way to use notebooks/tags.  What makes no sense to you may be someone else's cup of tea.  

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42 minutes ago, csihilling said:

For example People could be the parent to all =Person tags.  Just a way to organize tags not notes.  

Hi csihilling - thanks for your reply, but I don't understand. Can you give an example to illustrate

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Create a parent tag called People.  Nest all the people tags (=Adams, =Jones, =Smith, etc) under that tag.  People isn't used to tag notes, it is just an enabler to organizing tags.  Other such tag groupings can be created.  Easier to navigate tags in the left panel when there is a nested structure.  

In my use case I have 8 parent tags at the highest level, 3 levels total, 350 tags total for 27k notes.  I don't use prefixes on tags other than special characters.  I've been at it long enough that I don't add many tags anymore.  My main view is with the left panel closed so notebooks and tags are not visible anyway.  But again, works for me, not for all.  

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6 minutes ago, csihilling said:

Create a parent tag called People.  Nest all the people tags (=Adams, =Jones, =Smith, etc) under that tag.  People isn't used to tag notes, it is just an enabler to organizing tags.  Other such tag groupings can be created.  Easier to navigate tags in the left panel when there is a nested structure.  

Using a prefix in the synopsis indicates me that it is a category and not a tag, Anyway, user bias...is not so important

Using a combination of category and feature e.g. "pers_Adams"
(1)gives me the information what the belonged category is. And vice versa - tells Evernote which category i'm looking for
(2) thus I mostly use the task bar icon for searching matters, where I get a selection, a sorted list after input of "pers_". This means: the job of searching is done by Evernote.
I think this is much easier and much faster than scolling in the left panel with 350 tags.
(3) normally there is no need for me to "navigate tags" in left panel when having in mind a small number of categories
(4) not to forget: 80-90% of my work in evernote I handle with the shortcuts, about 50-60 arranged in topical groups, always in view + access in the left panel

Anyway, concerning the synopsis (categories and tags) we seem to use similar approach.

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8 hours ago, kilavos said:

Even for a list of all notes which have the "pers"-prefix: make a search like "tag:per_*" and you will get all notes with tagged as persons. (same with "tag:IT_en_*" shows all notes  with Evernote-tags).

Tag prefixes can be problem in other platforms where the names are truncated in tag list display 
For example  IT_en_forum IT_en_literatur  IT_en_syntax IT_en_tag  
may show as  IT_en_f IT_en_l  IT_en_s 

So, I keep my tag prefixes short
You mention .What .Who .Where
I use !What ?Who @Where, and I prefix all my tags with the special character prefix.
Thus, when I start typing the tagname, ? only shows my who tags.

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7 hours ago, kilavos said:

notebooks: there is no need for more than one=1 notebook (or only a few). As they do (should!) not have any relevance to organizational methods. Exception: (1) synced notebooks and local notebooks=no cloud=no syncing (2) notebook sharing in business version,  (3) archive (not necessarily), (4) temperary purpose (as shown below).

That is my personal opinion as well.
It avoids the notebook trap - Should I put my note in this notebook or in this other notebook?  Should I duplicate it?

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Saying the same thing.  A prefix simplifies tag application and searches and it is only one character.  I use Ctrl-Shift-T for most searches, so = presents a drop down of people, . a drop down of projects, ! A drop down of TSW tags.  Same for applying tags.  And when in list view sorted by tag these groups sort to the front.   

I set my nested tags up in early in my usage.  Could I live without the structure, sure.  But it is a comfortable artifact at this point.  

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7 hours ago, kilavos said:

easy tagging via task bar icon

Not sure what this is (task bar icon)
For me easy taging is
- First: consider my Who/What/Where categories
- Second: make use of the drop down list when I start typing the tag name. aaa gives you all the tags begining with aaa

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8 hours ago, kilavos said:

And this must be understood - for the behaviour of Evernote this structure is completely non-relevant.

Someday - it might be relevent, there is potential
For now, a benefit is that it allows me to expand/contract my task list.
At its most compact, my taglist shows only the parent tags
!What>
?Who>
@Where>
When>

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7 hours ago, kilavos said:

separated by a "_" (do not use space, because of more difficult use in searches)

Be aware that for search purposes, special characters get removed
-xxxx = /xxxx etc
The only exception is the underscore (_)

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8 hours ago, kilavos said:

As well as being proud to use no or only a few tags. Or flag  their notes with keywords  in the title.

I always found this an oxymoron. Its still tagging a note, even if you put the tag in the title, or in the note text.
Using the tag list is more precise and convenient
I usually repeat the tag info in the title because the info is preserved, outside of Evernote.

 

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@DTLow - thanks for your feedback
 
Tag prefixes can be problem in other platforms where the names are truncated in tag list display ...
problems in other platforms - might be, in this case one has to consider this
 
I keep my tag prefixes short
So do I - therefore I use shortforms like "en" for Evernote, important also  in respect of the length of the display
 
I use !What ?Who @Where  , and I prefix all my tags with the special character prefix.
Thus, when I start typing the tagname, ? only shows my who tags.
(1) I started with different prefixes too, but I dropped them - there is no benefit for me because WHAT etc are categories and no tags, therefore no search.
(2) to prefix all tags - I agree this would be consequent, but it is without any benefit. Start with "@" - nothing happens. You have to input at least a second figure to get a list, but in this case you already have to make a decision for "@e" or "@a" or "@t" and so on. If you look for cities it's not important if cities are in category !WHAT or @WHERE - you know that the tag starts with "city". A prefix "@" (@city_...") - any benefit?
 
Not sure what this is (task bar icon)
In my platform Windows 8/10 it  means the feature "symbols on taks bar" in the right of the task bar (speaker, clock), there you can activate a symbol for Evernote.
You get the same result with Win+Shift+F
 
I always found this an oxymoron. Its still tagging a note, even if you put the tag in the title, or in the note text. Using the tag list is more precise.
I agree. But not only more precise. What happens if one decides to change the name of a tag?
(1) tag itself - just change it, one step only
(2) "tag" in title, and this in 5 or 50 or 100 etc. notes. One has to change this in every note - no comment...
BTW - oxymoron, very sophisticated expression, I haven't heard it for years.

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2 hours ago, csihilling said:

Could I live without the structure, sure.  But it is a comfortable artifact at this point.  

Are you really sure? The structure gives you a logical classification and within each level an alphabetical sorting. Could you live without when working with 350 objects?

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2 minutes ago, kilavos said:

Are you really sure? The structure gives you a logical classification and within each level an alphabetical sorting. Could you live without when working with 350 objects?

I'd just as soon not, but yeah, if I had to I could.  I've created my tags so they are easy for me to remember, Statement for statements for example, St.Farm for the company.  So I just start typing and they appear.  I rarely only open the left panel, and then it is to empty the trash.  Just as soon keep the nest now that it exists though, as with most of my processes.  ;) 

The thing I have never understood is the desire to prefix tags with things like "city".  For me if I know it is a city why not just start typing the city name until it is alone in the drop down as opposed to typing city and then the city name.  Seems like extra work particularly if you prefer to use the keyboard as much as you can.  It does help with a global city search though.  It would take longer to expand a City parent tag and Shift-left click and do an any search.

Not that I don't have one prefix tag set.  I'm in the US so I do prefix tax schedules with 1040.  This makes it easy to get a drop down or do a search on all tax documents.  Other than that special character prefixes or none at all.  But, again, that's my use case and others are very comfortable with the prefixes.

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2 hours ago, kilavos said:

 If you look for cities it's not important if cities are in category !WHAT or @WHERE - you know that the tag starts with "city". A prefix "@" (@city_...") - any benefit?

Yes, @city- is redundant.
Why even include city-? For example I would use the tag @London 
Do you also use country-, village-......

Another of your examples is for Evernote tags.  My tag would be "!Evernote"; your tag is "it_en"

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...featuring. Carry on. 

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:
1 hour ago, DTLow said:

Why even include city-? For example I would use the tag @London 

Do you also use country-, village-......

Another of your examples is for Evernote tags.  My tag would be "!Evernote"; your tag is "it_en"

Why prefix the tag with city-? For example I would use the tag @London 

Another of your examples is for Evernote tags.  My tag would be "!Evernote"; your tag is "it_en"

 

(1) That's what I tried to explain earlier: Search input "@" or "!" or "." in my platform - Windows 10 - does not return any result if I have tags with these prefixes. Is this different in your platform?

 
(2) A result=list will be listed only after input of 2 = two syllables e.g using your tag "@London" you input "!L" - and get a list with all tags of the category @WHERE which name starts with "L". Cities, countries, places and so on with beginning "L". 
My solution: with city as category and "city" or "cit" as prefix I achieve a pre-selection - I know I'm searching or tagging a city, not a country or place etc.
 
(3) The sample "it_en" as a prefix of a tag(!), not a tag,  in the blog was made for  those people who like pure consequence, means prefix in combination of all categories.
 
In reality my structure looks like
 
.WHAT
.methods
     .meth_GDT
     .meth_mindmapping
     ...
     .meth_Evernote
          en_evernote_site
          en_forum
          en_knowlegdebase
          en_literature
          en_syntax
          en_tag
          and so on
 
categories with leading ".", "en_..." are tags. Input the prefix "en_" gives me a list of all tags with reference to Evernote. Searching and tagging. "en_" is easy to keep in mind. Same with "cit_" or "country_" or "proj_" ...
If you like you might drop the word meth_ in the categories and make, .GDT, .mindmapping, .Evernote and so on. It's just history.
 
 

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1 hour ago, gbarry said:

...featuring. Carry on. 

???

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Sorry Cal, should've been more clear. We have a "feature" capability in the forum now that we should really use more often. It's a non-pinning way of promoting a great discussion.

image.png

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45 minutes ago, kilavos said:

(1) That's what I tried to explain earlier: Search input "@" or "!" or "." in my platform - Windows 10 - does not return any result if I have tags with these prefixes. Is this different in your platform?

Just typing @ gives me a dropdown of all my @ tags  (Mac/ipad Platform)
I can also see all my @ tags in the sidebar
I can also 
search for tag:@*

>>A result=list will be listed only after input of 2 = two letters e.g using your tag "@London"
I could work with that, however this may because I don't have that many tags

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1 hour ago, csihilling said:

The thing I have never understood is the desire to prefix tags with things like "city".  For me if I know it is a city why not just start typing the city name until it is alone in the drop down as opposed to typing city and then the city name.  Seems like extra work particularly if you prefer to use the keyboard as much as you can.  It does help with a global city search though.  It would take longer to expand a City parent tag and Shift-left click and do an any search.

In many databased progs you will find combi-fields with given entries to make choice or input easier, to avoid mistakes. Same here. It's not much work in my mind writing "cit_" and make a decision from the list entries.

With the prefix "cit_" I can see at one glance how many and which cities are in my tag collection.

A third point: in some tag trees there are names of e.g. media - nearly 50 -  and I'am not able to remember the spelling, long form? short form ...therefore I use "media_"as prefix.

 

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2 hours ago, DTLow said:

Just typing @ gives me a dropdown of all my @ tags  (Mac/ipad Platform)
I can also see all my @ tags in the sidebar
I can also 
search for tag:@*

I checked this again with W10 - none of the 3 options you mentioned did work. Obviously depends on the platform.

Nevertheless I do not see any benefit in prefixing with "@" etc. as explained. I do not want to see all WHERE-classes (@...), which means level 1, but all cities or all countries or all places... If looking for a certain project I must not get all WHAT-classes, but "proj_.." only.

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4 hours ago, kilavos said:

In many databased progs you will find combi-fields with given entries to make choice or input easier, to avoid mistakes. Same here. It's not much work in my mind writing "cit_" and make a decision from the list entries.

With the prefix "cit_" I can see at one glance how many and which cities are in my tag collection.

A third point: in some tag trees there are names of e.g. media - nearly 50 -  and I'am not able to remember the spelling, long form? short form ...therefore I use "media_"as prefix.

 

Get all that.  Just seems like extra typing to me.  ;)

Hence the reality there is not one Rx for using notebooks and tags.  Preferences and use cases are not all the same.

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14 hours ago, csihilling said:

But, again, that's my use case and others are very comfortable with the prefixes.

The reason for my "black thoughts..." was presenting some ideas, experiences etc. which might improve the practical use of Evernote with the given tasks and options (which are not so obvious as it seems to be). The idea for this and the feedback likewise was not defending one's own position/use, but frank discussion with arguments PRO & CON, checking benefits, handicaps. It's not my idea to get a unique solution at the end of discussion. 

"But, again, that's my use case..." means "anything goes" and is postmodern philosophy, but not a real argument to discuss with. Earth a spherical oject? Earth is flat - fits for me.

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Or it simply means use the right tool for the job.  More pragmatism then anything else if a label is needed.

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On 9. März 2016 at 5:45 PM, kilavos said:

Are you really sure? The structure gives you a logical classification and within each level an alphabetical sorting. Could you live without when working with 350 objects?

unfortunately there is no tag structure available on iOS - there is one, but it's not displayed on that platform.

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There are advantages and disadvantages to any tag naming convention / structure. It really comes down to whether you like to view your tags as folders / categories or actual tags. Both are valid (but adding some sort of "NB" prefix seems to add no value.)

The Secret Weapon method of using tags to establish a workflow makes no sense to me though (e.g., "1-Now", "2-Soon", "6-Waiting"). Why would I establish a workflow with tags, when any given item can only exist in one state at a time and there are only a handful of states... NOTEBOOKS are perfect for this. I use notebooks in conjunction with reminders to establish a workflow, and tags to categorize information. Once a tag goes on, it doesn't change, but a note will move from notebook to notebook. If I tried to do this TSW way, I'd have to constantly add/remove tags and worry about accidentally missing a tag.

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54 minutes ago, Neil Rutledge said:

The Secret Weapon method of using tags to establish a workflow makes no sense to me though (e.g., "1-Now", "2-Soon", "6-Waiting"). Why would I establish a workflow with tags, when any given item can only exist in one state at a time and there are only a handful of states... NOTEBOOKS are perfect for this. I use notebooks in conjunction with reminders to establish a workflow, and tags to categorize information. Once a tag goes on, it doesn't change, but a note will move from notebook to notebook. If I tried to do this TSW way, I'd have to constantly add/remove tags and worry about accidentally missing a tag.

Agreed, the Now/Soon/Waiting states are mutually exclusive and could be notebooks.
But then again, the Pending/Completed states are mutually exclusive and could be notebooks.
But then again, the Work/Home/Errands states are mutually exclusive and could be notebooks.

My points:

  1. You can't cover all states by using notebooks.
  2. As you noted, there is the risk of failing to properly adjusting tags and then having conflicting tags. A task could end up with Now,  SoonLater tags. However, it's the Now tag that's the most significant because those are the tasks to focus on.
  3. You may have a problem when teams share project notebooks with you that contains task notes

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On 4/1/2016 at 10:31 PM, Neil Rutledge said:

There are advantages and disadvantages to any tag naming convention / structure. It really comes down to whether you like to view your tags as folders / categories or actual tags. Both are valid (but adding some sort of "NB" prefix seems to add no value.)

Use of tag prefixes depends on the system you have designed.

In my system, use of the ".NB." prefix achieves the following:

  1. Clearly identifies the tag as a pseudo Notebook
  2. Forces these tags at the top of the tag list for easy selection.
  3. Allows me to quickly select/pick a pseudo Notebook for every Note.

I also use tag prefixes for selection lists.  For example, I use a prefix of "SYM." for my collection of stock symbols.  I use "EN." for my collection of Evernote tags.  I use "SW." for my collection of software.

Of course, each user is free to choose the prefix that works best for him/her.

I use tags to represent BOTH notebooks and categories.  I also have tags that represent actions, places, priorities, and more.  I really don't limit myself in the use of tags.  I use them for whatever makes sense to me. 

I'm not sure what you mean by "actual tags".

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The recent posts of Neil Ruitlegde, DTLow and JMichaelTX cover several items, I try to explain my view.
 
  1. "There are advantages and disadvantages to any tag naming convention / structure. It really comes down to whether you like to view your tags as folders / categories or actual tags. Both are valid"

    What we call "tag structure" is, in my eyes, misunderstood. In effect it is a structure of terms which can be used as categories and tags, the structure has a logical function. This is undependent of the naming of these items, with oder without prefix etc.
    But these terms are no folders, not at all !!! That is  a great misunderstanding. (notebooks are folders)

    In conclusion: "tag structure" is for logical purpose. It can consist of categories and tags. And these tags are flags assigned to a notes in order to characterize their content..Nothing more and nothing less.

     
  2. "The Secret Weapon method of using tags to establish a workflow makes no sense to me though (e.g., "1-Now", "2-Soon", "6-Waiting"). Why would I establish a workflow with tags, when any given item can only exist in one state at a time and there are only a handful of states... NOTEBOOKS are perfect for this. I use notebooks in conjunction with reminders to establish a workflow, and tags to categorize information. Once a tag goes on, it doesn't change, but a note will move from notebook to notebook. If I tried to do this TSW way, I'd have to constantly add/remove tags and worry about accidentally missing a tag."

    Secret Weapon... I'm not a friend of manifestoes, they tend to be rigid and inflexible, in particular when somebody is implementing them point by point. Anyway...Might be this is one reason that you move notes from notebook to notebook, remove tags etc. 

    Although it's very easy to handle all this completely different. 
  3. First misunderstanding is the use of tags. There is no need to remove a tag from a note. A note, which refers to a person or any other item, has a tag e.g. "Rutlegde" or/and "EN_tag". This is valid for today, next week and 2020. No need to remove ...
    If you like to have this note or a couple of notes in focus at a certain date, give them a reminder (not Now, not Soon, not Later). Create some searches/shortcuts like Today="remindertime:day -remindertime:day+2"  or ThisWeek="reminderTime:week -reminderTime:week+1" etcetcetc. This reminder is a special tag=flag which can be modified (new date) oder killed or set as completed. 
    You might add checkboxes (in a note) and in conjunction with reminders create other shortcuts like TaskLast Week="-remindertime:day+2  remindertime:day-7  todo:false" or TaskNotCompleted="todo:false" OR TasksPartCompl="todo:true   todo:false" etcetcetc.

    This enables you to handle every job needed in your workflow. When a reminder, assigned to a note, is "completed" or killed or a box is checked this note is out of your focus automatically : that's what you intend. There is no need to move (means: copy to  notebook B, and delete in notebook A) a note  to another notebook.

    Not to forget shortcuts - but that's another story...

     
  4. "Agreed, the Now/Soon/Waiting states are mutually exclusive and could be notebooks."

    I do not agree. What does it mean "Now"? Today, tomorrow? Or Soon? Next week, next month..." Or Waiting? How is this controlled? Control "Waiting"-notes every day?
    No - do assign an exact reminder to a note and get it in the focus at that day/time by shortcut as explained - and than decide what to do: do the job or modify the reminder or kill the reminder...

    This moving from notebook to notebook reminds to old fashioned  behaviour which makes sense if one has real documents. In Evernote we indeed have virtual items they is no need to move them from place to place.

     
  5. "In my system, use of the ".NB." prefix achieves the following:"

    I do not understand these "pseudo notebooks" and the related tags. 
    "Forces ...at the top...of any selection" - I do not see the connection to "pseudo notebooks"? If I have notes which high relevance they are tagged with "!important" (bisides other tags). And this tag is permannently  in top position of my shortcuts/favorite list (If you like you can drop the exclamation mark). 

    Notebooks are places where notes are stored in. Categories are logical terms only. Tags are flags.  

    ...

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On April 2, 2016 at 8:26 AM, kilavos said:

What does it mean "Now"? Today, tomorrow?...  How is this controlled?

I have over 100 tasks recorded in my task list, some are current, some are in the future.

I need to identify the tasks that I'm working on now
And when I exhaust that list, I can pull from the soon list.

These are controlled in the periodic product reviews.
For example: "Take winter clothes out of storage" would not be a current task until close to winter.

Update: The "Now" classification is now controlled by Reminder Date and a saved search that triggers automatically.

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54 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I need to identify the tasks that I'm working on now
And when I exhaust that list, I can pull from the soon list.

 
That's exactly what I tried  to explain ("What does this mean "Now"?.... was not a real but a more rhetorical question):
 
Set (different) reminders to all the tags - some of them get 2016/04/2, others 2016/04/06, some in the "future" get 2016/05/02, 2016/04/09 etc..
Pick the "Now"s with a shortcut "Today" as explained earlier, those in the future will be listed when 2016/05/01 becomes present.
 
It does not make sense, in my opinion, to have 50 ore more tasks in a "soon list" without any time selection done before. 
You are not able to work on 50 "Now"-tasks, but 20 today, 20 tomorrow etc.
 
And furthermore it's only a click to shortcuts like "TaskThisWeek" or "TaskNextMonth" to list those task belonged to future reminders. You can get access if necessary. Only in this case, if required.
Your note "Take clothes for the winter" would get a reminder of 2016/09/01 or similar. No need to see or get listed this note before that date.
 
 
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4 hours ago, kilavos said:
Set (different) reminders to all the tags - some of them get 2016/04/2, others 2016/04/06, some in the "future" get 2016/05/02, 2016/04/09 etc..
 
 

I see your point (finally!) - thanks, I'll include this in my workflow

"Now" is a generic description.  "2016/04/02" is very specific.

I need to include tasks in my "current" task list until completed; I will code the search as to exclude all future dated reminders, exclude all completed tasks. No review would be necessary, the task will pop up on the required date.

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O.k. - let us build a szenario:
 
(1) some preliminary work:  generate some searches/shortcuts like (I hope you get the syntax)
TasksTillTomo =    "-remindertime:day+2  remindertime:day-7  todo:false"  (all task of last week till tomorrow which are not completed)
TaskNotCompl = "todo:false"
TasksPartCompl = "todo:true   todo:false"
TaskWithoutDate = "todo:false -remindertime:*"
TasksCompleted  = "-todo:false todo:true"
 
Now you have a group of shortcuts somewhere in your favorite list (no problem to continue with months, years etc.)
 
(2) now we jump into our szenario: asume the actual date is 2016/04/2
 
Generate a new note XYZ and put a checkbox on top with following text "completed?" (Now you understand the searches,  I hope)
   (I prefer a combination of reminder and checkbox when it's a task and not only a date)
You decide to start this job 2 days later - reminder the note with 2006/04/04
 
(3) 2016/04/04 arriving - click on TasksTillTomo - and all task with reminder -7 til +1 will be listed, even your note XYZ
    that means even those notes with unchecked box and reminder within the past 7 day
(4) pick XYZ and decide what to do:
   (a) work and new date e.g. 2016/05/12 > reminder modification 2016/05/12 (XYZ will appear 2016/05/12)
   (b) only new date, same action like (a)
        if you want to continue next day - no action necessary   (see syntax of TasksTillTomo!!!)
          you will not even "loose the task due to TaskNotCompl (lists all task uncompleted independent of any reminder)
   (c) work and complete th task >>> checkbox X  (finished !!!)
 
I hope this works with aMac as well as in Windows10.
 
This workflow does not need various notebooks and not even tags, although the notes are tagged, but for different purpose.
 
Now you might enlarge this for - what I call projects - tasks which consist  of more than one note e.g. 20 or 30 or 60 notes with text, emails, pdfs etc.
A project has several notes and a special note (AAA)  for organization (with remarks, note links etc. - this note gets a creation date somewhere in the future and therefore is always on top of the (project) note list). 
All these notes are tagged with e.g. "project_2016_XYZ_UVW". And this tag becomes a shortcut, so several project shortcuts  form a group in the favorite list. Finally the note AAA gets a reminder, let's say 2016/04/15. 
What will happen on 2016/04/15? Well, click on TasksTillTomo - and note AAA appears in the list. You know it's a project - therefore click the shortcut "project_2016_XYZ_UVW" not far away and you get all notes of this project with the AAA in front.
 
The basis of  this workflow only is a group of  clever built searches/shortcuts which handle all the dates and checkboxes. Definition has to be done only once, and then use them every day. (only when a project has finished drop the shortcut, the tag still exist and you can reanimate the total project when ever you like.).
 

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1 hour ago, kilavos said:

TasksTillTomo =    "-remindertime:day+2  remindertime:day-7  todo:false"  (all task of last week till tomorrow which are not completed)

That's a great setup.

I prefer keep it open ended to all uncompleted tasks; not just from last week (day-7)
I use day-1000

I like the use of the Completed Checkbox to exclude completed tasks
I like the use of project tags as shortcuts.

I use checkboxes all over, including templates, so I can't use that as the task indicator.
Its not a problem for me; reminder date is sufficient to flag notes needing my attention.

 

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8 hours ago, kilavos said:

"There are advantages and disadvantages to any tag naming convention / structure. It really comes down to whether you like to view your tags as folders / categories or actual tags. Both are valid"

What we call "tag structure" is, in my eyes, misunderstood. In effect it is a structure of terms which can be used as categories and tags, the structure has a logical function. This is undependent of the naming of these items, with oder without prefix etc.
But these terms are no folders, not at all !!! That is  a great misunderstanding. (notebooks are folders)

In conclusion: "tag structure" is for logical purpose. It can consist of categories and tags. And these tags are flags assigned to a notes in order to characterize their content..Nothing more and nothing less.

You are welcome to your opinion, of course, but there is no constraining logic built into Evernote of what a "tag" means, or how it can be used.

A tag, in Evernote, is simply a label that can be applied to one or more Notes.  What that label means is totally up to each user.

Notebooks and tags are not really all that different (putting aside the sharing/offline use of NBs).  They are both just labels that we can use to organize and categorize our Notes.  The big differences between NBs and Tags are:

  1. A Note can have, or belong to, only one NB, whereas it can have many tags.  So, a NB is simply a constrained tag.
  2. Evernote has arbitrarily limited us to 250 NBs.
  3. Evernote has arbitrarily limited us to a flat NB structure (no real sub-notebooks.  Stacks are not a NB) 

What probably misleads us is the name of the entity called "Notebook", and the entity called "Tag".  Evernote could have named these entities anything.  But the names they chose do suggest certain usage based on our pre Evernote experience, and our experience in the real, physical world.  However, there is nothing that prevents us from using Notebooks and Tags as we see fit (other than technical constraints).

For many, many years I have maintained my personal information, not unlike many others I would suppose:

  1. File Cabinets
    1. A separate physical cabinet for each broad category of information, like "Financial", "Correspondence", "IT Reference", etc
  2. File Drawers
    1. A sub-category of what's in the File cabinet
    2. Sometimes it takes more than one drawer, but the only way I have of designating this is by physical labels on the drawer front
  3. Dividers
    1. Yet another sub-category, this time of the File Drawer
  4. Folders
  5. Documents
  6. Bookshelves of Notebooks, often vendor product information or ref information.

If I wanted to cross-reference information in various cabinets/drawers/dividers/etc, then I needed to keep a index card system, like at the library

Now, let's move into the electronic world, the Evernote world.

Regardless of the Evernote entity named "Notebook" or "Tag", I can choose to use either to setup my electronic information system.

Like many others, at first I tried to setup Evernote much like my physical world, where an EN "Notebook" represented a broad category of information, like a file cabinet, drawer, or actual notebooks.  It soon became obvious that that model would not work due to Evernote NB limitations.

So now I use mostly tags:

  • Some to model my very broad categories like "Financial", or even broader, "Business", "Personal"
  • For these very broad categories, I use a prefix of ".NB." to HELP me clearly identify a tag as such.
  • Whereas before I made sure each Note went into a specific Notebook, now I make sure each Note has at least one broad category tag assigned to it.
  • So I am using these tags as pseudo notebooks.
  • I have a very nice, logical, hierarchical tag organization that lets me browse through these broad categories, just like I might open a file drawer and browse when I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, or where it is.  Or like you might open a vendors product notebook/catalog and flip through the pages to see what's there.
  • OTOH, I have cross-cutting category tags that, for example, find all notes related to a client, or vendor, or product, regardless of which major category it is in.

So, if pseudo Notebooks don't appeal to you, or you don't see the benefit in using prefixes, then you are definitely free to ignore them.  But just because you don't understand or use them does not mean they are invalid constructs of organization.

 

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8 hours ago, kilavos said:
It does not make sense, in my opinion, to have 50 ore more tasks in a "soon list" without any time selection done before. 
You are not able to work on 50 "Now"-tasks, but 20 today, 20 tomorrow etc.

Repeating myself from other threads here, but anyway.

In my world there are tasks that are date constrained and those that aren't.  Date constrained tasks get a reminder date in EN.  Not date constrained tasks get a TSW tag.  Not date constrained tasks make their way to !1-Now, the top of the TSW pyramid.  I review the levels of TSW tasks on a schedule and as items get completed.  Sometimes a TSW task will convert to a date constrained task if conditions change, and then a reminder date is added. 

I have three shortcuts at the front of the shortcut bar for one click access, !1-Now (tag search), !Today (saved search), !Late (saved search).  I also have multiple PhaseExpress hot key searches (tomorrow, next seven days, etc), all of which are dynamic dated.  All of this in two prime notebooks, one synced and one local.  No pseudo notebooks in site.

All personal preference.  One driver for me is I don't want to process an interrupt for any of my "TSW" tasks and then change a date that isn't that important in the first place, so no dates.  I prefer to review that backlog when I want.  Dated tasks trump TSW tasks and this structure helps keep that clear, to me anyway.  FWIW.

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23 minutes ago, csihilling said:

In my world there are tasks that are date constrained and those that aren't.  Date constrained tasks get a reminder date in EN. 

Does this mean you use two sources for your current task list

or do you have a combined search?

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In a way you could say two, I suppose.  However I view the !Today search as the current list.  The !1-Now search is filler for when time frees up or I can't address a dated  task right then.  

The lists aren't that long so with two clicks I get an excellent sense of where I am in the day.  Again, my objective is to stay focused on what absolutely must get done while also having a list I can go to when appropriate.  

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Here's the reason I use notebooks to establish a workflow, and not simply one giant notebook containing everything:

I'm a visual person and I would sooner use a tool like Trello to organize information if it had the power of Evernote (note editing, web clipping, desktop app, etc.). I tried implementing TSW in Evernote for months but felt more disorganized than ever. I need to see how each task/note exists in relation to others. If I just have an isolated view based on a saved search or tag, I always feel like I'm missing the big picture.

With that being said, I have set up a notebook structure similar to the following (I'm constantly experimenting with different structures):

  • .Inbox
  • .Reference
  • Actions
    • 1 - To Do
    • 2 - Repeating
    • 3 - Waiting
    • 4 - Backlog
  • Trash

Every single note within the 'Actions' stack is a reminder, and these notes only get dated if they are time sensitive. This way, I can also use reminders in the '.Reference' notebook as a means of pinning a note for reference at the top of a given view. If all I had was one giant notebook, I would see nothing but a long list of reminders, I wouldn't know what's a pinned note, what's something I have committed to doing ('To Do'), something that I'm doing daily/weekly ('Repeating'), or something I'm considering for the future ('Backlog').

Evernote has a beautiful way of displaying reminders in separate sections with the notebook name as the header (when 'sort by date' is off) and I leverage this to create a view similar to a Asana / Trello / whiteboard where items are divided into sections. It also gives me the ability to easily drag notes up/down to set priority.

On top of this, I use tags to divide everything by area/project and a couple saved searches to see what's overdue or due this week.

 

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1 hour ago, Neil Rutledge said:

I tried implementing TSW in Evernote for months but felt more disorganized than ever. I need to see how each task/note exists in relation to others. If I just have an isolated view based on a saved search or tag, I always feel like I'm missing the big picture.

In another discussion a user is referring to category/subcategory and doesn't know what tags are.

It doesn't matter if you call it notebook, tag, keyword, or category
- it's just a label you assign to a note (a rose by another name would still smell as sweet)

I am curious about your Actions / 2 - Repeating notebook.  Could you share how that fits into your workflow?

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22 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

I use tags to represent BOTH notebooks and categories.  I also have tags that represent actions, places, priorities, and more.  I really don't limit myself in the use of tags.  I use them for whatever makes sense to me. 

I'm not sure what you mean by "actual tags".

All tags in Evernote are, of course, "actual tags" by definition...I shouldn't write on these forums after consuming alcohol.

To clarify what I meant, I view tags as simple labels. If you are creating a parent/container tag with child-tags that include the parent as a prefix, you have created a structure with redundancy. Where there is redundancy in the structure, it feels like a cabinet/folder structure to me more so than a tag/label based structure. (And yes, I know that notebooks are the actual equivalent of folders in Evernote.)

Example:

The following seems like a folder structure (to me):

  • Cars
    • Cars.Blue
    • Cars.Green
    • Cars.Red
    • Cars.White
  • Eggs
    • Eggs.Green
    • Eggs.White
  • Fruit
    • Fruit.Blue
    • Fruit.Green
    • Fruit.Red

The following seems more like a tag/label structure (to me):

  • Colours
    • Blue
    • Green
    • Red
    • White
  • Objects
    • Cars
    • Eggs
    • Fruit

Now, while the "folder" structure has redundancy (more tags required overall), it requires less tags to be applied to each note. A note about green eggs can simply be slotted into the "Eggs.Green" tag (as if it were a folder). For this reason, I'm currently using that type of structure...but I change my mind all the time about this.

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

I am curious about your Actions / 2 - Repeating notebook.  Could you share how that fits into your workflow?

I keep track of all my actions in Evernote (including business stuff, workout stuff, reading, errands, etc.). The "2-Repeating" notebook gives me a bucket to drop everything that is ongoing (i.e., stuff that I can't just sit down at a coffee shop and complete on my Mac). I don't directly work from this notebook, it's always context specific stuff that I am looking at by filtering by tag.

Workout workflow example:

I come across random exercises I want to try online and I clip them into my "Backlog" notebook as a reminder, with a 'Workout' tag. Then, when I am ready to incorporate a particular exercise into my current routine, I simply drag it into my "Repeating" notebook.

Reading example:

I come across something I want to read and clip into my 'To Do' notebook as a reminder, with a 'Reading' tag. Once I have read it, I drag it into the 'Repeating' notebook to review later until the material sinks in. Afterwards, I clear the reminder.

Note: I obviously could just dump all this into the "To Do" notebook... but then that notebook just becomes a giant mess of stuff that I need to do now with ongoing/repeating stuff mixed in. I could also date everything I need to do now and use my saved search to isolate that, but I really, really hate adding dates to notes and only do so when something absolutely must be done on a certain date.

Also, I must point out, that this is only useful if reminders are set to group by notebook instead of by date.

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1 hour ago, Neil Rutledge said:

To clarify what I meant, I view tags as simple labels.

We seem to be in agreement:

5 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

A tag, in Evernote, is simply a label that can be applied to one or more Notes.  What that label means is totally up to each user.

 

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10 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

A tag, in Evernote, is simply a label that can be applied to one or more Notes.  What that label means is totally up to each user.

 

Your argumentation -  If I understand this correctly -  is to show that tags and notebook are the same. And therefore can be used in the same way.
 
Anyway your way of adducing evidence is curious. Either your arguments are wrong or demontrate just the opposite of what you want to show.
 
Examples:
 
(1) "A Note can have, or belong to, only one NB" -  the use of the item "have" or "belong" indicates that you do not really know the relationship between a note and a notebook: a note is part of a notebook, but does not "have" one. Same in a database (notebook) like MS-Access with records (notes). That's the reason why a note can only be part of one notebook. You can not drop a notebook from a note (like a tag), but only move (=copy to NB_B and delete in NB_A)
(2) Completely different a tag: it's, as already said, a flag only (the content of a tag is not of interest in this actual discussion). You can assign or drop or rename a tag - this does not influence the note.
 
Notebook and tags differ completely - in physics as well in theory.
 
One reason for these misunderstandings is given by yourselve "Like many others, at first I tried to setup Evernote much like my physical world". It'a well-known problem, that it's not easy, even when the differences between theory and practical experience are evident, to modify one's theoretical understanding. (never ending story: neoclassical economics/monetarism versus keynesianism...)
 
 

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10 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

You are welcome to your opinion, of course, but there is no constraining logic built into Evernote of what a "tag" means, or how it can be used.

 

You will not be surprised that do not agree. It might be correct that nowhere is an extensive explanation what a tag "means". Those users who are familiar with databases and similar progs or work in commerce do not have these problems. Let me explain again what a tag and what the "tag synopsis" means (I use this expression instead of  "tag structure"  intentionally):
 
(1) A notebook is a database and normally has several records. In Evernote you can have more than one, but not more than 250 databases=notebooks. That means Evernote is a container of notebooks
(2) A note is a record in one of these databases (notebooks) and can be of different content (text, pdf, jpg etc an combination).
(3) A tag is a note (!) in a special (tag) database in this Evernote container. Only text. The intention of these tags are completely different from the intention of the normal notes: they are only flags and characterize one or a group of notes. This is done by a 3rd database where the relationship between a note and a tag is stored. 
 
That means that you have  1...250 databases with notes, only one database with tags and only one database for the tag-note-relationship. It's important  to understnd that notebooks and notes and tags are totally different in nature and usage.
 
Now what I call "tag synopsis": Here the user of Evernote can built his own logical structure of the tag database. In this structure you are free to build different levels, logical dependencies of the tags. But it is a theoretical pattern only and does not affect the practical work: if a tag is in level 1 oder 4 oder 5, has no effect or consequence. Just a view of your logical ideas... Now - each tag which is declared by the user appears in this synopsis and can be positoned at a place/level appropriate to the users conception. But - there is no demand that a tag must be used as a flag, it might be note-less. Therefore one can declare non-used tags for organizional purpose only  in the synopsis, in this case they get the nature of what I call a category. Get a prefix to inform the user not to use as a tag.
 

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9 hours ago, csihilling said:

In my world there are tasks that are date constrained and those that aren't.  Date constrained tasks get a reminder date in EN.  Not date constrained tasks get a TSW tag.  Not date constrained tasks make their way to !1-Now, the top of the TSW pyramid.  I review the levels of TSW tasks on a schedule and as items get completed.  Sometimes a TSW task will convert to a date constrained task if conditions change, and then a reminder date is added. 

 

My understanding is different:
 
I tag each note with one or more tags (tag is a flag)
tag in my understanding is not time relevant, but data constraint only and of static character (no dropping generally)
tags like "!Today" or "Later" are too vague and must be dropped from the note
 
When I have notes with time relevant feature I use  reminders and/or in conjunction with checkboxes. Reminders are specially set up for date/time organization and not vague, can be easily changed and set completed. When I have an appointment/job/task to be done on 2016/04/15 at 10am  I set a reminder. How to do this with a task?
 

More details of my usage of reminders can be read in an earlier post.

Not to forget this item: I sync with android time manager - "Later" would not work.

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23 minutes ago, kilavos said:

A notebook is a database and normally has several records. In Evernote you can have more than one, but not more than 250 databases=notebooks. That means Evernote is a container of notebooks

I think you have the terms tables and database mixed up.
Notebooks are a table in the database.
Tags are a table in the database.
Notes are a table in the database.

There is a note/tag table to identify the tags for a note.
This might be the same for note/notebook, although it might just be a column in the note table
 

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2 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I think you have the terms tables and database mixed up.

This is correct (my fault, I did not want to make it more complicated as it is)

To complete the analogy between Evernote and MS-Access:

Evernote is a database with 1...250 tables (=notebooks), one table (tags) and one table (note-tag-rel)

The records in these tables are notes, tags and tag-note-rel. It's necessary to understand that the tables and records do not have the same meaning.
 

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4 hours ago, kilavos said:

Evernote is a database with 1...250 tables (=notebooks)

I doubt that.  I'm guessing that Notebook is simply a column in the Note table.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.58.08 AM.png

I get your point with this.
In a logical organization view you have:   Stacks > Notebooks > Notes with tags
however, you can also view your notebooks as:   tag > Notes

 

>>This is correct (my fault, I did not want to make it more complicated as it is)
You might want to go back and edit your posts.

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5 hours ago, kilavos said:
I tag each note with one or more tags (tag is a flag)
tag in my understanding is not time relevant, but data constraint only and of static character (no dropping generally)
tags like "!Today" or "Later" are too vague and must be dropped from the note

Here's an example
- You have a project of 30 tasks.  
- Two must be done today, some others must be done soon, the rest can be done later.
Oops, I just used today, soon, and later labels

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1 hour ago, kilavos said:

This is correct (my fault, I did not want to make it more complicated as it is)

To complete the analogy between Evernote and MS-Access:

Evernote is a database with 1...250 tables (=notebooks), one table (tags) and one table (note-tag-rel)

The records in these tables are notes, tags and tag-note-rel. It's necessary to understand that the tables and records do not have the same meaning.
 

There is some crazy talk going on comparing notebooks to tables in a database....

To my knowledge, based on Evernote's developer documentation, notebooks and tags would both be rows in a table. There is a Notebook table and a Tag table (as well as a 'Note' table and many others). The notebook and tag tables contain a listing of notebooks and tags, respectively. There is no difference in the database structure between a notebook and a tag based on the insight their documentation provides (it only explains the API not the internal database structure...but I would presume it matches).

The only reason that a note can exist in one notebook at a time is the way Evernote created the Note data structure to contain only one reference to a notebook, while being able to reference multiple tags. There is no physical difference in the database between notebooks and tags themselves. It's purely a logical constraint created by Evernote.

 

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2 hours ago, DTLow said:
2 hours ago, kilavos said:

Evernote is a database with 1...250 tables (=notebooks)

I doubt that.  I'm guessing that Notebook is simply a column in the Note table.

 

Second - you are right. And we now are dipping deeply into the programming structure of Evernore, which works on the basis of SQLight. A single data file (Evernote .exb) which contains all tables, indices, views etc. As you already guessed the notes are all in one single table which has more than 30 fields representing the attributes of the note (uid, title...date_created, notebook_uid etc). Analyzing the exb file you will find more than 20 tables, one for the notebooks (uid, name,...is_local ...), one for the tags (uid, name,...parent_uid,...subtag_count...). Here you find the information for the tag synopsis (e.g. parent_id, subtag_count...).
 
Anyway I think this does not narrow my statements about the synopsis nor the disparity of notebooks and tags. 
 

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

Here's a example
- You have a project of 30 tasks.  
- Two must be done today, some others must be done soon, the rest can be done later.

 
(1) In a case like this it might be considered if Evernote is the convinient tool or not a special project management prog.
 
(2) Evernote: I tried to explain earlier my way of handling a project with diffenrent sub-items. Having different dates just set reminders to the corresponding sub-items.

 

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

Here's a example
- You have a project of 30 tasks.  
- Two must be done today, some others must be done soon, the rest can be done later.
Oops, I just used today, soon, and later labels

I see what @kilavos point was. When tomorrow rolls around, notes in your 'soon' tag don't magically roll into your 'today' tag the way they would if you actually had reminder dates set to tomorrow and a saved search to filter for today's date.

That being said, this is the very reason people organize tasks into simple buckets like 'today' or 'to do' and 'later or 'backlog', etc. They don't know precisely when they will finish each task and be able to pull a new task into the 'today or 'to do' list. If you follow Kanban or Agile methodology, you will understand why this is extremely beneficial for productivity vs. assigning precise dates to everything.

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21 minutes ago, Neil Rutledge said:

There is some crazy talk going on comparing notebooks to tables in a database....

 

You might be rihgt, it's a crazy talk in a certain way. The problem we are discussing is not a question of the database structure. In this Evernote database the notebooks, notes, tags etc. are just objects, stored in records (rows), the database does not care what they mean or used for. For the front end however it does not mean that all these objects are of equal value. A notebook is not the same as a tag. And a tag is not a reminder or  vice versa.

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27 minutes ago, Neil Rutledge said:

That being said, this is the very reason people organize tasks into simple buckets like 'today' or 'to do' and 'later or 'backlog', etc. They don't know precisely when they will finish each task and be able to pull a new task into the 'today or 'to do' list.

 

Quite so! 
 
Not to forget one point: the bucket "Later" grows and grows and grows - sooner or later you loose the survey...Unfortunately it's very easy to have 3 buckets only ("out of my brain"), to make a decision for a precise date needs more precise thinking.

 

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1 hour ago, Neil Rutledge said:

When tomorrow rolls around, notes in your 'soon' tag don't magically roll into your 'today' tag the way they would if you actually had reminder dates set to tomorrow and a saved search to filter for today's date.

Agreed
Actually, for me Today/Now is a saved search item, not a tag item
I have adopted the reminder date approach so there is automatic triggering
(reminderTime:day-1000 -reminderTime:day+1 -tag:!Archive)

I still think there is a benefit in using the soon/later tags for tasks that have no specific date but you want to apply some classification as to urgency

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15 hours ago, kilavos said:

Not to forget one point: the bucket "Later" grows and grows and grows - sooner or later you loose the survey

The "Later" bucket also shrinks.
During periodic reviews, the tasks are reviewed and reclassed as Soon/Now/Specific-date

The point is        #1 Add your tasks    #2 Group them as to urgency 

Update: The "Now" classification has been replaced with a Reminder Date and a Search that triggers automatically

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4 hours ago, kilavos said:

tags like "!Today" or "Later" are too vague and must be dropped from the note

Interesting concept, though probably not one I shall follow,  Particularly since !Today is a search in my construct for all those nice date sensitive notes.

 

4 hours ago, kilavos said:

Evernote is a database with 1...250 tables (=notebooks), one table (tags) and one table (note-tag-rel)

To me if viewed in table terms from a logical perspective, EN is a table with a notebook field, 100 tag fields, and all of the "actual" fields of a note as its contents.  This comprises the information for the note.  Add to that all the inverted lists needed for access.  How it is physically constructed, don't know, and don't care.  EN does a fine job of making it work. 

IMO, stacks, notebooks, and tags help you winnow your searches to something manageable.  It is a blank canvas which is great as there are so many ways for all of us to set up want we want to do.  :)

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2 hours ago, kilavos said:

Not to forget one point: the bucket "Later" grows and grows and grows - sooner or later you loose the survey...Unfortunately it's very easy to have 3 buckets only ("out of my brain"), to make a decision for a precise date needs more precise thinking.

 

This argument between dating everything vs. using simple buckets to me is similar to the argument between traditional "waterfall" project management vs. "agile" project management. In the traditional approach, you plan everything in great detail ahead of time (start date, end date, who is responsible, blah blah). The Agile approach is to do just in time planning. You simply maintain a prioritized backlog of items, and then pull from the top of the backlog when there is capacity (whether scrum, kanban, or whatever specific approach).

We live in an increasingly complex world where "precise thinking" about when something will need to be done in the future is next to impossible (it's the equivalent of predicting the weather on a certain day two months from now). It's drastically simpler and more effective to have a workflow such as "To Do", "Doing" and "Done" than it is to maintain a detailed plan, by date, of what will be performed on each day.

All that being said, there are obviously certain things that MUST be done on a specific day...and that's why I have a calendar. :) 

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10 hours ago, kilavos said:

Notebook and tags differ completely - in physics as well in theory.

 

10 hours ago, kilavos said:

Let me explain again what a tag and what the "tag synopsis" means (I use this expression instead of  "tag structure"  intentionally):

First, let me say that I completely understand the underlying database structure, having worked directly with the SQLite database.

  • Notebooks have a 1-to-many relationship with Notes
  • Tags have a many-to-many relationship with Notes

BTW, Notebooks is NOT a database.  It is a table in a database.

That is all interesting, but not relevant (except for technical constraints) in how a user decides to organize their notes using Notebooks and Tags.

Let's take a very broad category of information that I will call "Personal".  If I create a bunch of notes that I want to be associated with "Personal" I can use either a notebook named "Personal", or a tag named "Personal"

There is no material difference between a notebook of "Personal" and a tag of "Personal" in how I reference those notes:

  • In the left Sidebar, I can click on the label for either to filter the notes
  • In the Search box, I can filter the list using qualifiers for either ("notebook:" vs "tag:")
  • In the Notebook filter (dropdown list at top of note list), I can select the "Personal" notebook, which is analogous to selecting the "Personal" tag in the Tag Filter.
  • For each note, I would need to choose either the "Personal" notebook, or the "Personal" tag

So, from an user's organization perspective, use of a notebook and tag are the same.

The difference comes in when the user wants to either:

  1. Have more than 250 broad categories (like Project 100 - Project 500)
  2. Use logical, hierarchical subdivisions of the category (often called "sub-notebooks")

So, notebooks do NOT offer any organization advantage over tags.
Whereas tags offer many organization advantages over notebooks

  1. Virtually unlimited number of tags
  2. Can have a many sub-tags (sub-categories) in the tag hierarchy as you like
  3. Can assign multiple tags to the same note
    (so, for example, a computer asset Note can be referenced by both "Business" and "Personal")

This is not just theory.  I have demonstrated the use of tags as pseudo Notebooks for several months now, and I can say it works extremely well.  I have NOT found any usage or organization issues.  I have NOT found any missing features using tags vs using notebooks.  In fact my experience has been extremely positive since using tags has eliminated a number of obstacles I had with notebooks.

There are definitely some use cases that require notebooks, like sharing and mobile off-line storage.  One of the many benefits of using pseudo Notebooks is that I can create an actual EN notebook for sharing that still has my pseudo Notebook tag.

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Along this theme, there may be a small benefit of stacks/notebooks over tags in the segregation of notes for searches.  Should one have a group of notes one would just as soon exclude from a typical search then having them isolated in their own notebook or stack of notebooks is helpful.  And if you only want to search only those notes you just select that stack/notebook.  You can accomplish the same thing with tags for sure, just a little easier with notebooks, IMO.

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8 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

So, notebooks do NOT offer any organization advantage over tags.
Whereas tags offer many organization advantages over notebooks

 
That's exactly what I'm arguing for all the time. (I have been using tags for decades in different progs)
 
What I still do not understand is this item "pseudo notebooks". They are  obviously just tags with prefix NB ?- in this case it seems to me like a vehicle introducing the NB again.

 

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13 hours ago, Neil Rutledge said:

All that being said, there are obviously certain things that MUST be done on a specific day...and that's why I have a calendar.

 
Arguing for reminders vs bucket-tags does not implicate the specific day, but split the bunch of notes for work on somewhere in the future into smaller pieces. Regarding different relevance in time and importance. Some should be done next week, some with lower impact might wait a month etc. Viewing 10 notes at a glance vs 50 or more ...

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4 hours ago, kilavos said:
 
Arguing for reminders vs bucket-tags does not implicate the specific day, but split the bunch of notes for work on somewhere in the future into smaller pieces. Regarding different relevance in time and importance. Some should be done next week, some with lower impact might wait a month etc. Viewing 10 notes at a glance vs 50 or more ...

Forgive me if you are already familiar with Agile Methodology, but splitting work into smaller batches is exactly the goal when dividing things into workflow buckets:

Example using Evernote:

Let's say I have the following notebooks (and a tags list breaking things down by area/project):

  • .Dashboard  <-- This contains goals and other quick reference info
  • Actions
    • .To Do (containing 12 reminders)
    • .Waiting (containing 3 reminders)
    • Backlog (containing about 50+ reminders)
  • Reference  <-- All the non-actionable notes go here

All of the notes in the 'Actions' stack are reminders and sort by date is disabled so that they can be manually sorted to indicate priority and are grouped by notebook. At a set interval (say once per week), I have a weekly review where the following is performed:

  1. I review my list of goals so they are fresh in my mind.
  2. I then go into my 'Backlog' notebook and scan through to ensure everything is in priority order (top reminder in the list is the thing that will deliver the highest value). I can also filter my backlog easily by project tag at any time to get a specific view during this process. If I come across something that is no longer relevant, I delete it.
  3. I then click a saved search in my shortcuts menu called "Completed" to view all the completed reminders over the last 7 days to assess what I actually got done.
  4. I also click a saved search called 'Due This Week' to see the few notes that do have fixed dates coming up this next week.
  5. Based on what I got done in the past week, and what's due this week, I put an appropriate amount of items from the top of the 'Backlog' notebook into my 'To Do' notebook.

Such a process creates a cycle of Doing > Reviewing > Planning > Doing, etc. where you are able to correct course based on the results of previous action and always focus on the highest priority work that can be done. You never work directly from the backlog of items, only the small batch of highest priority items in the To Do list.

Note: the notebooks can be broken down further to include 'In Progress' items, or a notebook for 'Today' etc., as needed. I'm currently using a 'Today' notebook to plan what I intend to do each day in the morning.

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23 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

There is no material difference between a notebook of "Personal" and a tag of "Personal" in how I reference those notes:

Taking it a step further, and applying this to the Shortcuts section.
When you click on an entry labeled "Personal", it could be a tag, a notebook, or a search.
The result is the same - you retrieve a list of notes with that context

By extending this to searches, this concept is extended beyond notebooks and tags.
It could also be one of the dates (created/updated/reminder), a phrase in the document (inline tag keyword=xxx) or a combination.

An approach is to identify the purpose of the shortcut.  Then decide if it can be best addressed by a tag, notebook, or search.

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2 hours ago, Neil Rutledge said:

Forgive me if you are already familiar with Agile Methodology, but splitting work into smaller batches is exactly the goal when dividing things into workflow buckets:

 

Thanks for this detailed description of your workflow handling jobs with reminders and notebooks. 
 
I don't know Agile Methodology but will inform in the near future. At the moment I'm involved in some difficult preparations which will need my attention till the end of April - therefore I only try to give you some idea how I do this job, you mght be able to evaluate Pro & Cons.
 
One question only: how does this manually sorting of the note list work ? I'm not able to disable sorting (title, creation date etc...reverse sorting order). Might be Windows (10)?
 
My way to manage this:
 
(1) I do 95% of my work in Evernote with 1 notebook only, rest is local and for archive purpose.
(2) I use a couple of shortcuts=favorites to manage notes refering to tasks and/or date.
 
-------   TASKS --------  (= title of a note, set as shortcut)
tasks--7 till today+1      = "-remindertime:day+2  remindertime:day-7  todo:false"   (saved search)
tasks undue                 = "todo:false"
tasks partly undue         = "todo:true   todo:false"
task - without date       = "todo:false -remindertime:*"
tasks - completed        = "-todo:false todo:true"
 
---------  DATES -------
date - -30 till today       = "remindertime:day-30 -remindertime:day"
date - today + 1           = "remindertime:day -remindertime:day+2"
date - act week            = "reminderTime:week -reminderTime:week+1"
date - next week          = "reminderTime:week+1 -reminderTime:week+2"
date - act month          = "reminderTime:20160401 -reminderTime:20160501"       (has to be modified each month)
date - 2 months          = "reminderTime:20160401 -reminderTime:20160601"
date - act year            = "remindertime:year -remindertime:year+1"
date - act year done    = "reminderDonetime:year -reminderDonetime:year+1"
date - next year          = "remindertime:year+1"
date - all                    = "remindertime:*"
 
There is some overlapping but that's not a problem.
This works with checkboxes and reminders (tasks have both, dates have  reminder only).
The first shortcuts in every group are used more often=daily, others for controlling purposes only sometimes
Sorting is done by creation day, reverse sorting order.
 
New notes get a checkbox and/or reminder. date of reminder sets the priority according to my rating
Work on a note is finished by marking the checkbox (or not) and modifying the reminder (or set done)
 (e.g. this note will be listed somewhere next week... or never, if the  the job is done)
 
That's all. 
 
Last point:
"I'm currently using a 'Today' notebook to plan what I intend to do each day in the morning."
I have 3 notes (task daily, task weekly, task monthy) with have the tag "periodically". And this tag is as a  shortcut on top of the list.
(The notes contain a table with items to be done daily etc.)
 
You probably realize that I do most of the organization using the shortcut list (tags, searches, notes). This has to be arranged once only and then used every day. I'm a lazy guy, I know. 
 
 

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11 hours ago, kilavos said:

One question only: how does this manually sorting of the note list work ? I'm not able to disable sorting (title, creation date etc...reverse sorting order). Might be Windows (10)?

Since any actionable item is always set as a reminder (same as your workflow from the sounds of it), I work directly from the reminders list. It is the reminders list that I sort (by disabling the "Sort reminders by date" option at the top of the reminders section). I much prefer to have manual control and the ability to drag things around then to have things sorted based on date or some other metric (although I will switch this setting when I need to see things sorted by date on occasion).

 

11 hours ago, kilavos said:

New notes get a checkbox and/or reminder. date of reminder sets the priority according to my rating

I had experimented in the past using much the same approach as you where everything worked off saved searches and date was the method of prioritization. I loved that I could set something to appear on my radar at some specific point in the future. But I soon found myself constantly deferring reminders to another day...and they were building up. My Evernote reminders started feeling like emails appearing in my inbox in the morning -- I didn't feel in control.

The other thing I found problematic is that it was hard to identify what was a reminder I had simply deferred to a later date because it was lower priority, and what was something that actually needed to be done on that given day.

11 hours ago, kilavos said:

I have 3 notes (task daily, task weekly, task monthy) with have the tag "periodically". And this tag is as a  shortcut on top of the list.

This is a nice approach. These types of notes are what I put in my Dashboard notebook (as reminders so they appear right at the top of my reminder section under a "DASHBOARD" header). But using a shortcut works just as well.

 

 

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>>Recurring Tasks
@kilavos, @Neil Rutledge
Could you provide more details on how you're processing recurring tasks
I have daily tasks covered - they are just hardcoded on my daily journal note template
For others (weekly, monthly etc) the only method I can see is to reset the reminder date

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7 minutes ago, DTLow said:

>>Recurring Tasks
@kilavos, @Neil Rutledge
Could you provide more details on how you're processing recurring tasks
I have daily tasks covered - they are just hardcoded on my daily journal note template
For others (weekly, monthly etc) the only method I can see is to reset the reminder date

Right now, I use my calendar for all recurring tasks, as well as any tasks that must absolutely happen at specific dates/times.

Even when using tools like Asana (which I use at work as part of a team) that handle recurring tasks very well and integrate with my calendar... I still prefer to just put the items directly into my calendar. 

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4 minutes ago, AwesomeEvernoteUser said:

What is a 'black thought'?

I'm glad you asked this because that's the one thing I've been wondering this whole time I've been commenting on this discussion. 

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10 hours ago, Neil Rutledge said:

Right now, I use my calendar for all recurring tasks, as well as any tasks that must absolutely happen at specific dates/times.

Even when using tools like Asana (which I use at work as part of a team) that handle recurring tasks very well and integrate with my calendar... I still prefer to just put the items directly into my calendar. 

Yes, I agree - specific date/time entries like meetings are better handled in a calendar

I prefer the visual display of a calendar, and notification is handled better.

I use a calendar<>reminder sync service (Cronofy Calendar Connector)

 

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6 hours ago, Neil Rutledge said:

Since any actionable item is always set as a reminder (same as your workflow from the sounds of it), I work directly from the reminders list. It is the reminders list that I sort (by disabling the "Sort reminders by date" option at the top of the reminders section). I much prefer to have manual control and the ability to drag things around then to have things sorted based on date or some other metric (although I will switch this setting when I need to see things sorted by date on occasion).

 

no sorting of the  reminder list : I confess, that I lost sight of this option. Anyway. My sorting ist due to reminder date and this is part of my philosophy: When set a reminder date this is equivalent with priority. notes with reminders in a fortnight have less priority than those of actual week. And if priority of a note changes - I modify the reminder. That might be a rough system concerning priority but  - in comparison with your way  of manually sorting - somewhat more pragmatic. I don't see the need of a tight priority listing (no 1,2,3 ...). Priority grouping answers the purpose. In the moment a group of notes is listed (Today!!) you have the chance to decide what are the most important ones.

 

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6 hours ago, DTLow said:

Could you provide more details on how you're processing recurring tasks
I have daily tasks covered - they are just hardcoded on my daily journal note template
For others (weekly, monthly etc) the only method I can see is to reset the reminder date

As already explained I have 3 notes with titles "Task today", "Task weekly", "Task monthly". They are tagged with "periodical". And this tag is set a shortcut and positioned on top of the shortcut list. A click to this shortcut is sufficient to list these 3 notes. In there I have a table with column "topic", checkbox, "description". At one glance you keep track of the jobs which have to be done daily, at the end of the week, at the end/beginning of the month. The topics do normally not change, they are static. Therefore  I handle this by tag and not by reminder
Example with Task daily: Online banking, Check meetings, work on orders etc... You might check this note at the beginning and at the and of a day.

 

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6 hours ago, AwesomeEvernoteUser said:

What is a 'black thought'?

That's a good question, 4 weeks after starting this topic.

Not very profound or momentous, only a reminiscence to "black humor". And a way to attract attention.  ;)

 

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On 3.4.2016 at 0:05 AM, JMichaelTX said:

BTW, Notebooks is NOT a database.  It is a table in a database.

 

This is correct, of cource. I very much apologize for  this slipshod piece of work.
 
Some months ago I did some analyzing on the exb database using the SQLite prog. The note_attr  has fields like notebook, notebook_uid and tags which indicates that it is a query/view with the table notes and related tables. And not a single-standing table. Do you have more information about htis matter? Even though it is "not relevant (except for technical constraints) in how a user decides to organize their notes using Notebooks and Tags" as you already mentioned. I agree.

 

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I think there's a lot of great thought on this subject in this thread.  However,  there was a good reason I was using notebooks up until recently and have now updated all my notes to use tags instead.  There was a time not too long ago when you couldn't use tags in the iOS web clipper.  Anything clipped from my iphone or ipad could only be organized by notebooks.  There was no tags option.  Thankfully, the new webclipper has introduced tags for me and made notebooks obsolete.

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1 hour ago, zotje said:

Thankfully, the new webclipper has introduced tags for me and made notebooks obsolete.

Before the tag/notebook wars restart

I agree; its a great feature to have the option of specifying notebook and tag in the web clipper

For me, there are reasons for notebooks and I wouldn't want to see them dropped
- default notebook, my inbox
- local notebooks
- shared notebooks

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On 6.4.2016 at 5:09 PM, DTLow said:

For me, there are reasons for notebooks and I wouldn't want to see them dropped

 
Never fear! There are logical reasons for the excistance of more than one notebook, they are for different purposes. Therefore there is no war but discussion in understanding the differences between tags and notebooks. See the brilliant explanation of JTMichaelTX on 2016/04/03 page 3
 
An example for the use of tags I dealt with this afternoon: I checked some documents stored in Evernote dealing with insurance of car, household, liability etc. I use 3 kind of tags: (1) kind of insurance e.g. insu_car (2) insurance company e.g. comp_safe (3) agent e.g. comp_Fischer or pers_Fischer. All docs in 1 notebook. By this means I can get all documents to (1) or (2) or (3) or a combination of all those tags. As you please and whatever you need
 
(At the moment I'm frustated yet as Evernote V6 prerelease does not support tags with prefix - means doesn't find "Fischer" if it's not at the beginning of the tag. But that is not an argument against tags but against my naming or the change in V6. Hope this will be the same as in V5.)

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