Evernote and GTD (4): Tags, Saved Searches and Premium

Tags

When I first started out with Evernote in a GTD way I struggled with using the rights features for the right GTD use. I tried using the tags as contexts but this didn’t work out in a way I liked. I have to be honest that early on the tags feature of Evernote was somewhat unpredictable in my case where I mixed the Windows and Mac client together with the iPhone app and the occasional use of the web interface. But even after those glitches were solved by the guys from Evernote I still didn’t completely trust that system. Not that it wasn’t reliable but it just didn’t work in my workflow.

In the meantime I have found a great way for tags in my GTD setup. I use the tags as temporary labels for project support material entries. I use it for web clippings, all kinds of documents (see below about Premium). It is my experience that I have at most about 20 active tags. When the project is done I simply delete the tag.

Saved Searches

This feature of Evernote is used for several lists that I use every now and then. I have a saved search that lists all the notes that contain interesting books, films or music. Also Saved searches provides me with a list of restaurants. I have for each saved search a dedicated word that is used for generating the list from all my notes across all notebooks. For books to read the keyword is simply: booktip.

Premium feature

There was one thing in my GTD workflow that didn’t quite worked. In a lot of my actions and projects I have to deal with documents, spreadsheets and other files. With the premium (aka payed) version of Evernote you can use these kind of files in your notes. What I particulary like is the ability to mail documents to your Evernote account. I explained the feature of mailing to your Evernote account in an earlier post on Evernote and GTD.

When I receive a document that I need to review I mail in to my Evernote account address. Before sending the mail I change the subject line of the forwarded mail with a meaningful action like this:

Read quarterly report for the budget meeting.

All mailed entries are routed to my Evernote Inbox and are processed from within Evernote. The automatic syncing of documents is just amazing. Always the most actual version of the document is available on whatever device or computer I work on.

This is the last entry in this series on Evernote and GTD. Since this is my primary GTD setup, every now and then I will write about new cool things I have figured out. For your convenience I have listed the entries below:

Evernote and GTD (1)
Evernote and GTD (2): Collecting
Evernote and GTD (3): Collecting with the iPhone

This is a post in a series on GTD with Evernote:

Part 1: Evernote and GTD
Part 2: Collecting
Part 3: Collecting with the iPhone
Part 4: Tags, Saved Searches and Premium
Part 5: Revisited

Evernote and GTD (3): Collecting with the iPhone

In this third post in the series on Evernote and GTD I will discuss how I use the Evernote client for iPhone. I find myself using the iPhone client primarily for collecting information.

Over time I still find new ways to use one of the four options for entering information on the iPhone. When I am doing a weekly review I use the new text note to just enter new tasks to pop up during the time I reserve every week. But also when I am on the phone with someone it is quite easy to quickly add tasks that way. It takes some time to make it a habit to enter every single task or item that pops up during the day. Also I have found some resistance in entering some small detail like get new batteries for emergency light. But it is now a natural thing to do.

The Snapshot Note option has proven to be a very convenient way to be more productive and ahead of things. I use it for business cards, clippings from magazines and newspapers, price tags in shops, location of my car in the car park and numerous other ways. Basically all things that I need to remember or want to remember is entered through this option.

The Saved Photo Note is ideal if you want to add photo’s you have taken into a note, for instance when you are writing about a trip you have made.

I use the Voice Note option a lot in the car. When I want to brainstorm on a subject or when summarize a meeting I was in I create a new voice note. The quality of the audio is great. Sometimes I just listen to the audio note and then process the tasks that are in the recording. Other times I just keep the recording for later use.

But there are also other ways I have found the iPhone to be of great help in collecting. I use Google Reader as my newsreader and with the handy option of emailing items right from the mobile browser interface I email items of interest to my Evernote email address. Sometimes there is an action involved in an item and just emailing them keeps my head clear because I later process the items when I review the inbox notebook in Evernote.

A lot of people miss the copy/paste option on the iPhone. I use the screenshot option on the iPhone to make screenshot from a lot of apps on the iPhone. Not only webpages but also screens from applications like contacts, Google Maps, TwitterFon, the SMS app, Calendar and others as well. When I am looking at my tweets in Twitterfon and there is something in a tweet that needs my action I just press the power button and the home button to take a screenshot of that page. With the Saved Photo Note I then add the screenshot to Evernote. The possibilities are endless.

Clarifi case

I really think the iPhone camera is of good quality for the day to day use as I need it. If I want to take quality pictures I take my digital camera. But in one area the camera of the iPhone good be better and that is when taking shots of text. The Clarifi case has a built-in sliding lens that makes close-up photos incredibly clear. Together with the text recognition feature of Evernote there is no need for typing in business cards addresses because with Evernote you can search for that name or address on the card. I have found out about the Clarifi case on the Evernote blog. I immediately bought the case and I must say it is a must for serious collecting with the iPhone client.

In later posts I will write about the ways of the iPhone client for reviewing information and taking action. For now I close with again a call to your readers to add your own tips and suggestions by commenting on this post.

This is a post in a series on GTD with Evernote:

Part 1: Evernote and GTD
Part 2: Collecting
Part 3: Collecting with the iPhone
Part 4: Tags, Saved Searches and Premium
Part 5: Revisited

Evernote and GTD (2): Collecting

This is the second post in a series on using Evernote in a GTD setting. In the first post I discussed the setup of Evernote for use with the GTD methodology. In this second post I will start with the collecting of information into Evernote.

Collecting is a very important step in the Getting Things Done methodology. I am running OSX as my primary OS and have an iPhone. So I use my Apple laptop and my iPhone for getting stuff into Evernote. In this post I will focus on the Mac side of collecting stuff into Evernote.

If you are running Windows and have a Windows Mobile phone some of the things you read here will not apply although most actions are also available on those platforms. In a later post I will also briefly mention those Evernote clients as well. But for now I stick to the ones I use most.

Getting info into Evernote on OSX

You can set up your computer in a way that makes it possible to sent info to Evernote from all programs. This is one of the best features of Evernote. When you install the OSX client also a Clipper is installed. This nifty tool sits in the top menu bar. It gives you access to two important tools to get info into Evernote:

Paste into Evernote will paste the current selection of the clipboard to Evernote. Clip screenshot into Evernote will give you a rectangle with which you can select any portion of your current screen as an image into Evernote. Evernote uses a recognition technology that identifies text on images and pdf files. So when I take a photo of a business card the info on that card can be found by typing the name of the person or the company that is on the card.

On the website of Evernote you will find instructions on how to install a webclipper in your web browser. This will gives you functionality to clip complete web pages or parts of web pages to Evernote. So when I am browsing and find some info I need to take action on I will send it right from the browser to my default notebook (in my case “1. Inbox”) in Evernote. The same is true for all other programs I work with. If there is some text in a Word document that holds an action or some important information I select it and past it right into Evernote.

But sometimes a task just pops in your head while you are working on something else. For that I have installed a Quicksilver script to quickly add a todo item to Evernote. You can download the script Clip to Evernote here. And a direct link to the latest version of the script: download. Before you can use this script you need to edit it and read through the instructions. Make sure you set at least the default notebook setting and read through the instructions on how to use it.

When I work at a document and someone walks into my office with a task for me I simply activate Quicksilver, press period and type: title:Call Fred at 1231245. I then tab to the action field and enter clip to Evernote.

A last way of getting info in Evernote for this post is using the mail address that is provided with every Evernote account. You can mail to that address and the info is added to your default notebook. I use it for sending complete emails to my Evernote inbox when the mail contains actions. I also forward account information and other mails with information to my Evernote account mail address. You can find you Evernote account mail address in the web interface settings page. It looks something like this:

In the next post I will describe how I use the iPhone client of Evernote for collecting stuff and actions in Evernote. As always your suggestions, questions or remarks are welcome. Simply comment on this post.

This is a post in a series on GTD with Evernote:

Part 1: Evernote and GTD
Part 2: Collecting
Part 3: Collecting with the iPhone
Part 4: Tags, Saved Searches and Premium
Part 5: Revisited