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Showing posts from February, 2014

GTD + EN: Powertools

Here are the power tools I use to make Evernote work for GTD.

Evernote for Mac (Home)Evernote for Windows (Work)Evernote for iPhone (with me all the time)Evernote Moleskine notebookA really good gel pen.  (My current favorite refill is the Parker Gel refill inside the Gatsby pen I made from Penn State Industries)Evernote Premium (At first I thought I wouldn't need it, but now that I have it I'm glad I spent the $5 each month.A copy of the GTD workflow taped by my computerThe discipline to process every day.

Things I wish Evernote would do.

No matter how much we like a piece of software, there is always something else that could be done to improve it.  Here is a short list of what I have come up with in the last few months of using Evernote.

I realize that Evernote is not a to-do list manager and that it was not designed to do projects.  However, it would be nice if you could tie two notes together in some kind of relationship. For example, I would like to have the ability to relate one note to another in some other way than with tags.   Again, I know that it isn't project management software, but I would really like to make one note a successor/predecessor of another note.  That way, I would be prompted to look at the next note in the list when you I got done with the first note.

In premium, Evernote puts related notes at the bottom of the screen.  However, it would be nice if the user had some control over what notes are related.

Reminders are great.  how about recurring reminders?  That would be handy.

Add one m…

Evernote Moleskine Notebook

I have been using the Evernote Moleskine Notebook for about 2 months.  Here is my review

Things I like:
Color,  Come on, who doesn't think the green band and the green page ribbon are cool?Hard Cover.  Great for writing without a deskPaper.  Excellent writing paper.  Slightly off white.  It is thick enough to use a gel pen without bleeding through.  Grid lines.  It gives those of us who don't have a right brain a bit of incentive to be creative rather than follow horizontal lines.  Getting 3 free months of Evernote Premium.  This was a great way to try out Premium.  Also, I got the book on Amazon for about $20.  So, it was a great bargain considering you got the book and the $15 worth of premium Evernote.  Perfect size.  It is almost exactly the same size as my iPad Mini.  So they both fit in my hand very well.   Things I don't like.  OK, there isn't much I don't like about this notebook, but here are a few items: Grid lines are too dark.  I'm not the first perso…

GTD + Evernote: What's the point?

Thinking about my last dozen posts, I realized that I didn't get you started with the end in mind.  (Covey habit #2)

Why would you want to use GTD and put your life in Evernote?  
Great question.

1.  This is not for everyone.  If you haven't read GTD, then you won't get it.  If you have used GTD, then you will understand what having a mind like water will do for your life.

2.  Your mind is great at deciding and thinking.  It is not good at storing information.  I ascribe the the limited brain cell theory.  If you use up brain cells storing, then you can't use them for thinking.  
3.  If you have a system and everything is in your system, then you don't have to think about the system, you can get things done instead.  
Why Evernote?  I am not a huge Evernote fan nor am I an expert on Evernote.  I consider it a tool just like the rest of the tools in my tool chest in the garage.  I don't fret all day wondering if the screwdriver feels bad that it only gets used…

Making GTD + EN work: Inbox Zero

If you haven't heard the term "Inbox Zero" already, then you need to check out this web site.

I highly recommend you watch the video.

I have been using the inbox zero mentality for many years, but I didn't have a name for it so all I could do was brag that my inbox was empty.

In my life, I've seen some strange iterations of getting an e-mail inbox empty including one guy who printed all of his e-mail out, put it in piles (by category) on his desk, and deleted the messages.  I'm not sure that is really getting your inbox to zero.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who have thousands of e-mails in their inbox and are making a futile attempt to manage their time with their inbox.  All this system leads to is acting on the latest and loudest.

Running a zero balance on your inbox takes the discipline to set up.  But it takes more discipline to use a system so you can generate trust in that system.

I use the GTD workflow.  I have …

GTD + EN: How to get all your "Stuff" into your Evernote Inbox

The secret to making GTD work is to get all of the clutter out of your mind and into your inbox.

The key is for you to act without delay.   When you think of somethign, ask your self one question, "IS IT ACTIONABLE?"  if the answer is yes, then immediately get it into your system and free up your mind.  

How do I handle the clutter in my life?
Paper If I can take a picture of the paper with the document camera in EN, then I do it.  If I have it electronically, then I attach it to the note in EN that describes the next actionIf I can't attach it or take a picture of it, then I put it in a file folder, grab my label maker and put a label on the tab.  Then file it in my system.  Inside the note that tells me what my next action is, I make myself a reminder that the folder is in the file drawer and what I filed it under.  Bottom line.  Get the paper out of your desk inbox or off of your desk and get it into the system!E-mailsApply the 2 minute rule. If you can answer it and fi…

GTD + EN: One Life, One Calendar, One ToDo List

Many years ago, let's call it 10 BGC (Before Google Calendar), I had a significant epiphany in my life.  At the time I had a very compartmentalized life.  For some reason I had the mistaken idea that the best thing to do would be to keep each part separate.  So, I had one calendar where I kept track of my work commitments.  (This was done first with a DayTimer and then I graduated to a Franklin).  I had another calendar where I kept track of my church appointments. (This was in a binder with my church stuff).   And we kept a family calendar on the wall at home.

It wasn't until I took my first 7-habits class that it finally dawned on me that I have one life, so I should have one calendar.  Duh!  I'm sure no one else is like that.   At the time it was a bit more of a challenge because there was no "cloud" to store your calendar in.

Recently I found a box full of old electronics.  Inside I found 4 Palm handhelds.  I'm sure I owned several more than that, but …

GTD and Intentional Software

Recently I listened to a podcast where David Allen talked about their new software partner "Intentional Software".  They are working on a GTD Application.  This is great news for those of us who have been looking for the perfect GTD application.  As of last count David Allen said there are over 300 apps that say they support GTD.  While I have only tried a few of them, I have found that every system has its limitations.  (So far, Evernote is the best on for me.) Hopefully Intentional software can develop an all inclusive app that works perfectly with GTD.

If you go to the web site and you will see that there are 7 Application categories that we use in GTD.

Here are the applications I use for each of these categories:

E-mail --> Outlook and Gmail  (also, some social media like Linkedin and Facebook)Calendar  --> Outlook synced to Google Calendar synced to my iOS devicesAddress Book --> iOS contacts and Outlook contacts. (syncing is not very clean). I've also star…

GTD + EN Weekly Review

The weekly review is critical for success.
The most important thing I do during the weekly review is calendar coordination.  
I typically do this on Sunday evening.

Here is the process:

Calendar review and coordination with spouse and familyPlan my exercise time for the week.  (This falls in the "put the big rocks in first" category)Coordinate this week's eventsDiscuss upcoming eventsEmpty paper based in-box at home (mostly bills and things to be filed/reviewed) Evernote Review and CleanupRun cleanup item saved searches (no tags, no !When, no @Where) Run weekly review saved search (Looks at all !Later and !Someday/Maybe tags)Review all !Waiting for tags. Can any be moved to a !NextAction? Click on major tags to see if I have lost track of any itemsReview archive notebook, is anything ready to be deleted?Delete notes in trash older than 3 monthsLook through my personal notebook (Evernote Moleskine)  to see if any of my handwritten action items got lost or didn't get e…

GTD + EN: Yearly Review

Yearly review 

Once a year you need to spend some time doing personal reflection and review.  Here is my yearly review.   Review goals from last year Celebrate successAnalyze areas for improvementSet goals in each area of life PhysicalIntellectualSpiritualSocial/EmotionalFinancialCareerFamilyClean up Evernote Empty trashEmpty Archive folderDo a notebook by notebook cleanup and delete old notes and unused / out of date notebooksReview 30,000 - 50,000 ft level (GTD)  50,000 + feet: Life40,000 feet: Three- to five-year visions30,000 feet: One-to two-year goalsDiscuss plans and goals with spouseAdd known events for the year into Google CalendarSchedule time for vacations Clean out file cabinets at work and at home I don't do this all at once.  It is too big of task.  I usually work on the goals and future life plans all during the month of December.  Also, I break the cleaning up tasks into manageable chunks that I do between Christmas and New years.  I generally have some time off dur…

GTD + EN: Completing Actions

"How do I mark an action item complete?"
This is a question that I struggled with when I first started using Evernote as part of my GTD workflow. 

I tried several methods before I landed on my current work flow.  
My first attempt was to put all of my actionable notes in a notebook called "Action Items".  I processed and tagged into that box from "Inbox"
The problem was that I would have to re-process that item out of my "Action Items" notebook and into a reference folder or to the trash.  Who wants to process the same note twice?  Not me. 

I solved the problem by removing all of my "What" context tags.  I created a new notebook for each of my "What" tags.   See my post on Notebook Setup.   

The second key to making close-out easier is to use saved searches.  See my post on Saved Searches.

With my notebooks and saved searches setup correctly, closing an item is easy.  All of my current next actions are viewed in the context-based sa…

GTD + EN Saved Searches

Saved Searches
If you are going to use EN with GTD, you need to learn how to use saved searches. Here is the reason. Whether you use tags, notebooks, or some combination of the two to organize your notes, you will need to regularly search for a specific set of notes that that will not show up simply by looking at tags.  For example, "@work" brings up everything that has that tag.  Who wants to look at all the @work notes that are incubating and completed?  After I got it set up I started using saved searches for all of  my workflows, I rarely use simple tag searches.
First, go to the article linked below and watch the video. Then review the Search Grammar Article. Creating a Saved SearchSearch Grammar First, I set up a set of "triage" type saved searches. They include Notes with no tags                   -tag:*Notes with no !when tag          -tag:.closed -tag:.reference -tag:!*Notes with no @where tag      -tag:!Closed -tag:!Reference -tag:@* I did not set up a sear…