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Rob25

2016 Latest Evernote GTD methods?

67 posts in this topic

Before I spend $10 to download David Allen's "EVERNOTE® FOR WINDOWS" user guide - I was wondering if anyone has experience using it and if so - is it better than  other  best practices . such as some of those listed in this forum?    I  am trying to come up to speed with both GTD and Evernote - so I would prefer to start with a well vetted approach and then modify down the road if needed rather than  develop it from scratch to serve my needs as some folks have suggested in past posts.   Thank you.

 

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An alternate GTD workflow is well documented at TSW (http://www.thesecretweapon.org)
Its free and uses short videos. I'd recommend looking at it.

I haven't read David Allen's user guide but I understand that it is similar,
My understanding is that DA focusses on notebooks, while TSW is mostly tags 
Personally, I use all tags

I'd recomment you search the forums for "Allen".  There's a lot of information.

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I use the method outlined in David Allen’s guide and prefer it over The Secret Weapon (TSW). I find TSW needlessly complex and like the simplicity of the method DA’s PDF explains. As David Allen has said,

"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."

This has never been the case for me with TSW. Too complicated, IMHO. I also am of the opinion TSW tries to do too much. You shouldn’t need “Now”, “Soon”, “Later” tags if you’re doing a proper Weekly Review. It’s my very humble opinion that TSW actually sabotages one’s weekly review - giving the user the false sense of security that the system is helping you prioritize. It never can - only you can. And the only way you can properly prioritize is by intimately knowing your task lists. And you can only intimately know your task lists by reading through them every day, and refining them during your Weekly Review. 

And it talks about sorting tasks by tag in the Note List view but that only works for the first tag that shows up... so needless to say, I never got TSW working. I got the setup in DA’s PDF working in twenty minutes.

What DA’s PDF boils down to is creating a notebook for each context inside an Actions stack. Then add one note per task. Add any necessary info, files, etc. to this note so everything is in one place. In your Agendas notebook, add one note per person and keep a checklist inside it noting what you need to address with them. Same with the Errands notebook - a note per place with your shopping or errand list inside that note.

That’s pretty much it. Here are some screenshots of mine to give you an example. I found the PDF worth the purchase, and I re-read it quarterly to make sure I’m greasing my wheels and keeping my system tuned and focused. One thing I do differently (or rather, one thing I do that’s not mentioned in the PDF) is use Evernote’s Reminders function for high-priority items. Paying bills, soft but important deadlines (like prepping lunch for the next day). That way I can click the Stack name in my sidebar and see my high priority items at the top. This often helps me figure out in which context I should plop myself to chug through some work.

Hope this was what you were looking for! Happy to answer any other questions.

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17 minutes ago, chirmer said:

You shouldn’t need “Now”, “Soon”, “Later” tags if you’re doing a proper Weekly Review.

Just curious - how do you identify tasks to be worked on today and tomorrow?
If your boss hands you a task thats due tomorrow, how would you represent it?

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1 minute ago, DTLow said:

Just curious - how do you identify tasks to be worked on today and tomorrow?
If your boss hands you a task thats due tomorrow, how would you represent it?

If it’s due tomorrow, that means I must do it today, so it goes on my calendar, per vanilla GTD guidelines. Tasks in my task list are to be worked on ASAP when convenient - if it’s got a deadline I use a Reminder and schedule time to work on it on my calendar. One of the key components to GTD is not overscheduling tasks, so I don’t plan tasks for certain days unless it’s to get it done in time for a deadline. If it’s not due, it doesn’t get any sort of date, whether that be “now” or “soon” or some such tag (which I find vague and tiring to keep up, personally). YMMV but when I tried to use them they brought me nothing but trouble! The beauty of GTD is in its spontaneity, the ability to be in the moment. Once I complete a task, I go through my list for that context again and find the next one I want to do - I do not schedule them out as that’s strictly not GTD.

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On March 31, 2016 at 6:33 PM, chirmer said:

Tasks in my task list are to be worked on ASAP when convenient - if it’s got a deadline I use a Reminder and schedule time to work on it on my calendar.

For me, I need to be able to pull up a specific list of tasks that I'm focussing on. That's where my When Now tag is used.
My new improved Now Tasks is a search is based solely on Reminder Date
(reminderTime:*.  -tag:!Archive   -reminderTime:day+1)

- I actually copy the list (links) to my daily journal note,
  which is what I work from during the day.
Blocking time on your calendar for working on tasks is a good idea.

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

For me, I need to be able to pull up a specific list of tasks that I'm focussing on. That's where my When Now tag is used.
- I actually copy the list (links) to my daily journal note,
  which is what I work from during the day.
Blocking time on your calendar for working on tasks is a good idea.

Makes sense! I just follow the strict GTD method in that I don't plan which tasks I'm going to tackle today - I let my gut guide me and choose the next task once I finish one.

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On March 31, 2016 at 9:08 PM, chirmer said:

This has never been the case for me with TSW. Too complicated, IMHO. I also am of the opinion TSW tries to do too much. You shouldn’t need “Now”, “Soon”, “Later” tags if you’re doing a proper Weekly Review. It’s my very humble opinion that TSW actually sabotages one’s weekly review - giving the user the false sense of security that the system is helping you prioritize. It never can - only you can. And the only way you can properly prioritize is by intimately knowing your task lists. And you can only intimately know your task lists by reading through them every day, and refining them during your Weekly Review. 

 

When I first saw TSW, I was excited and it made great sense however you are correct that it tries to do too much and "automate" a lot with the tags. I ended up not using the Next, Soon, Later tags at all. Even if I used them, I never filtered by those tags. Now I am refining my tags to the ones I actually use.

Glad to reminded that the system needs to stay "simple". 

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On April 9, 2016 at 4:22 AM, TK0047 said:

 

When I first saw TSW, I was excited and it made great sense however you are correct that it tries to do too much and "automate" a lot with the tags. I ended up not using the Next, Soon, Later tags at all. Even if I used them, I never filtered by those tags. Now I am refining my tags to the ones I actually use.

Glad to reminded that the system needs to stay "simple". 

I think the TSW site and GTD book have some good ideas, and people would benefit from having a look.

However, you need to be able to extract points that work for you and adapt them to your workflow.

If not using next/soon/later tags works for you, great.  

Can you share with us your method for organizing and prioritizing your tasks?

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I started out with TSW and recently changed it up to better fit my needs. By default everything goes into the Incoming notebook. As I process the items in it they either go into the Getting Things Done notebook or in one of the notebooks under the reference material notebook stack depending on where it makes sense to go. Any to-dos or action items go into the GTD notebook and use the tagging structure of When(:), Where(@), and What(\). If it has a hard date/time associated with it I assign a reminder. The special character prefix keeps everything sorted nicely. If it is reference material  I tag the time using the tagging structure of Description(!), Document Type(#), and Entity/For/Who($). Once again the special character prefix keeps everything sorted very nicely. Basically when I tag reference material I fill in the blanks in this sentence, "this is a _description_ _document type_ for _entity_. It's kind of hard to explain say I had my car recently serviced so I go home and scan the receipt, bring it into EN and tag it with "!Service, #Receipt, $Xterra". I am going on using Evernote for my task management, reference material, and going paperless for about 8 months now and recently changed up my reference material tagging to use this structure. I also used more "hard"when tags such as Today, Tomorrow, Next Week and moved to a more ambiguous structure because it decreased the amount of when tags I had (almost in half). 

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27 minutes ago, curtisdevault said:

 I also used more "hard"when tags such as Today, Tomorrow, Next Week and moved to a more ambiguous structure because it decreased the amount of when tags I had (almost in half). 

I'm guessing you update the note when Next Week becomes Tomorrow; and update again when Tomorrow becomes Today

In my workflow, I use an actual date and this transistion becomes automatic via saved searches. Even if it's not a hard date, I assign a date.

I store the due date using the Reminder feature

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34 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I'm guessing you update the note when Next Week becomes Tomorrow; and update again when Tomorrow becomes Today

In my workflow, I use an actual date and this transistion becomes automatic via saved searches. Even if it's not a hard date, I assign a date.

I store the due date using the Reminder feature

I updated them as needed, but always felt like I was procrastinating when I saw that same task every couple days that still had "Tomorrow". When the truth was I still was not ready for it or didn't have the time to commit to that task yet. Now I use Now, Next Soon, and Someday...anything with a due date I set that in the reminder. I feel like my method now works perfectly for me! I also used Cronofly or whatever it was to show my reminders on my Google Calendar. 

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On 6/8/2016 at 19:44, curtisdevault dijo:

I updated them as needed, but always felt like I was procrastinating when I saw that same task every couple days that still had "Tomorrow". When the truth was I still was not ready for it or didn't have the time to commit to that task yet. Now I use Now, Next Soon, and Someday...anything with a due date I set that in the reminder. I feel like my method now works perfectly for me! I also used Cronofly or whatever it was to show my reminders on my Google Calendar. 

Same method works for me too

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I really bought into GTD a few years ago when I had become overwhelmed by my to-do list. I found a really good book on implementing GTD within Outlook, which suited me as  I use Outlook with Office 365 on a daily basis.

I read all about TSW and attempted to implement it in Evernote. However, as well as being rather complex, it felt very unnatural to be saving emails into evernote rather than staying in the place I was already using - i.e. Office 365.

However, I really liked the Now, Next, Soon, etc categories. So now I have modified my Outlook GTD implementation to incorporate the 'when' as well. I also added 7-projects and changed !daily to !repeat.

I always found the contexts to be a bit redundant for me: most of my time is spent in the office so I am always able to be 'at my computer' and 'at my phone'; my commute to work is about 5 minutes if I drive and only 30 if I walk. I think that the context idea works better for those who spend quite a bit of time on the road. I do use errands and at home, but as it is difficult to find an android calendar that allows you to call up tasks by category, I tend to use Google Keep for my shopping list and my list of tasks for the garden at the weekend.

I still do the weekly review and go through all the whens. if I have more in Now and Next than I can reasonably complete in a week, then i know I need to re-negotiate with myself, or someone else and move some tasks into soon. Some tasks end up in the calendar if they have to be done on a specific day.

 

It is working for me.

 

 

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3 hours ago, JayneR said:

However, I really liked the Now, Next, Soon, etc categories. So now I have modified my Outlook GTD implementation to incorporate the 'when' as well. I also added 7-projects and changed !daily to !repeat.

Is there an Evernote component go your post?

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On 8/7/2016 at 6:44 AM, curtisdevault said:

I updated them as needed, but always felt like I was procrastinating when I saw that same task every couple days that still had "Tomorrow". When the truth was I still was not ready for it or didn't have the time to commit to that task yet. Now I use Now, Next Soon, and Someday...anything with a due date I set that in the reminder. I feel like my method now works perfectly for me! I also used Cronofly or whatever it was to show my reminders on my Google Calendar. 

Curtis:  THANK YOU for mentioning Cronofy!  This is exactly the thing that I didn't know I needed!

All:  I've used Evernote for years, but mostly as a dumping station.  As I am transitioned into a new job, I'm trying to do my task management via Evernote.  I like the idea of TSW, but I often sit for a moment, struggling to think of which tags to use.  I have a lot of large projects, and prefer to keep a large list of todos within the project note, as well as related notes and thoughts.  I snagged the GTD PDF to see if it has some thoughts that might be helpful for me.  I too didn't like how TSW handled time.  For things that need to be scheduled, I want them set to a specific date, not "soon" or "later".

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35 minutes ago, peripatew said:

For things that need to be scheduled, I want them set to a specific date, not "soon" or "later".

I abandoned the now/soon/later tags also and my workflow is completely date driven
"Now" and "Soon" are saved searches using reminder date

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On 9/20/2016 at 11:15 AM, DTLow said:

I abandoned the now/soon/later tags also and my workflow is completely date driven
"Now" and "Soon" are saved searches using reminder date

I changed to reminder dates as well and abandoned the soon, next etc. My issued used to be not being able to (not knowing) how to pull the notes that were due that day. Recently I discovered the reminder search string and now every morning I run a search:

reminderTime:day -reminderTime:day+1 -tag:"Completed" 

Along with this, I started using Cronofy to show those tasks on Google Calendar for a visual of the day which turned out nicely as well.

I would recommend it highly.

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12 minutes ago, TK0047 said:

Recently I discovered the reminder search string and now every morning I run a search:

reminderTime:day -reminderTime:day+1 -tag:"Completed" 

Along with this, I started using Cronofy to show those tasks on Google Calendar for a visual of the day which turned out nicely as well.

I would recommend it highly.

I use -reminderDoneTime:* instead of a Completed Tag
I also use reminderTime:* so that I see all uncompleted tasks, not just the ones due today

+1 on Cronofy Calendar Connector . It gives a visual view of your reminders, and my calendar app is much better at features like notifications

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23 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I also use reminderTime:* so that I see all uncompleted tasks, not just the ones due today

I use this as well.  Very handy for not missing tasks that are over due.  I have this in a saved search and I will sort it on Reminder Time so I can see the most overdue ones at the top of the list.  Custom saved search (and notebook) views are in the current Windows beta.

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On 9/20/2016 at 10:15 AM, DTLow said:

I abandoned the now/soon/later tags also and my workflow is completely date driven

I still use !1-Now, !2-Soon .... for those tasks that aren't date sensitive as yet.  Go to place when dated stuff is done.  Sometimes a !tag gets a date should it become critical.  This allows me to keep a backlog of stuff that I want/need to do that isn't date sensitive.  !1-Now is a bit redundant from a wording perspective, but I use it as the top of the heap of these tasks.

Since my normal view does not have the left panel open I find it easy to get to saved reminder searches using the magnifying glass in two clicks.  I precede the searches with an ! to get them to the top of the stack.  Per @s2sailor, I as well use the new view sort options from the beta.  Stellar addition in functionality in my view..  FWIW.

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I am well-versed in GTD having read David Allen's original book and watched training videos of his years ago. I haven't bought David Allen's recent book on Evernote nor have I used The Secret Weapon methodology. I developed my own over time.  The Secret Weapon recommends something David Alllen suggests we avoid and that is, taking the time to prioritize each task. He suggests that you look at each contextual list and make an intuitive choice based on your current situation. He believes, and I agree, that things are coming at us too fast and one input can throw off our carefully constructed priorities. That makes sense to me. I will say though that one of the best things about GTD is there are only a few basic concepts and their is a lot of room for individuality. So if it works for you, that's fine. 

Personally, I only use the notebooks for project sorting and that's optional. I could function with no notebooks at all. I keep my list of tags to a minimum and apply only 1-3 tags to each note. Using saved searches I can slice my lists several different ways but not too many. Simplicity is an important feature to me. It's the saved search feature that drives my GTD system. 

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My system is all tags-based. I have a 'Inbox' notebook for notes coming in, then once they're tagged they go to a Main notebook, or a business notebook. Then I have a set of @ tags like @Errand, @Phone, @Home etc for context. I have the bulk of my tags as reference tags so they all start with Ref, e.g. Ref Receipt, Ref School. Then for projects I start them with a dot. e.g. .Cruise 2017, .Tax 16/17 (the tax one I also have a Ref Tax 16/17 because I might want to refer back to previous tax years' notes. Project's that are done get prefix with 'Done'. 

Then the tag hierarchy helps also. All context tags are under a parent 'Context' tag. Project tags are under a parent 'Projects' tag which has children 'Active' and 'Inactive'. So all current projects are placed under the Projects > Active node.

And that's about it. I've written some more about my system here.

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7 hours ago, Dezgo said:

My system is all tags-based.

You don't have much info on task management other than context
Any other process for scheduling/priority?

I completely ignore the context side for my tasks 
I work at home so I don't have much of a work/home division

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