Monday, March 31, 2014

{Almost} Paperless Organizing: Evernote, Part 3 (Post 5)

I knew that Evernote would take some time to talk about.  This is post #3 and we've barely got into it.

I will continue talking about the tags that I use to mark my notes in Evernote.

Last time I talked about .Tickler File tags, .What tags, and, my favorite, .When tags.

.Where tags
The .Where tags are what David Allen (of Getting Things Done fame) would call context tags.  In other words, where you will be when you need to do this.

.Where tags

@Computer means that this task or project will require me to be at my computer.

@Home means I will do this at home.  (I used to also have an @Errands tag, but I have begun putting my Errands on Wunderlist.)  In a way, I think this tag is kind of unnecessary, but I saw someone else use it, so I thought I'd give it a try.

@Kitchen Again, most likely unneccessary.

@Mama's  This is for when I go see my mom.  I have a few ideas of places to visit.

@Phone  Phone calls.  Self-explanatory.

Out of all of these, I'd say that the @Computer is the one that is most useful to me.

.Who tags
I only have two .who tags:  Family and Gracie.  I only have one note tagged with Gracie.  This set of tags is ideal for people who have outside jobs and do projects with other people.

.Misc tags
These tags are for when you need to tag it with something, but the .What, .When, .Where, and .Who may or may not apply.  These tags are very important.

My .misc tags
Again, the . in front of .misc means that it is a category header only.  I have seven categories under .misc tags.

.correspondence   These are emails written to me.  So far, this is only for the correspondence from the little girls we sponsor through Touch a Life.

.important info  Eventually, I may further subdivide this category.  I know I need to subdivide the notebook that is called Important Info.

.notes  There are three further subcategories:  Church (for sermon notes), Ladies (for notes taken during our Ladies Bible Studies), and Quotes which I haven't even used yet.

.projects This is my favorite new tag.  I came up with these on my own (You saw it here first!).  I have three subcategories:  Big projects, medium projects, and small projects.  Big projects are those that are going to take multiple days to complete.  Medium projects will likely take one day, and small projects take just a few minutes or maybe no more than an hour.  These tags combined with the .when tags (1-Now, 2-Next, etc.) is very useful for effective productivity.  Look below and you'll see what I mean:

From this list of my big projects, I can see that the most important one I need to do is catching up on my checkbook (recording transactions into my financial program).  After that, I can work on organizing my file cabinet, and so on.

I can look at a similar list of medium projects and know which ones are important to do soon and which ones can wait.

.receipts are further subdivided into Not For Taxes, For Taxes, and Photo Biz Receipts.  When I get an electronic receipt, I tag it with one of these tags and then stick it in the appropriate year notebook in my File Cabinet stack.

Eventually, I want to be able to scan receipts and put them in Evernote.  This will hopefully help during tax time.

.recipes  I have a bunch of tags under the heading of .recipes.  Look below for the first division:

.Dish type
  • Appetizers/Snacks
  • Beverages
  • Desserts (further divided into Cakes, Cookies, Misc Desserts, Cupcakes, and Pies)
  • Household Stuff
  • Kids Play
  • Main Dishes (further divided into Beef, Breakfast, Chicken, Main Misc, Pasta, Seafood, and Soups)
  • Mixes
  • Sides (further divided into Breads, Fruits, Potatoes, and Veggies)
There are two subcategories for .Events: Holidays and Potluck.

.Prep Type
Here are the subcategories:  Canning, Crockpot, Easy, Grilled, Make Ahead and Freeze, and Make Ahead Partially.

Tips are for meal tips.

.temp tags  There is just one subcategory: Is in Dropbox.  This is when I thought I was going to use Dropbox to house my recipes.  So, another tag is obsolete.

As you can see, tweaking Evernote to work is an ongoing process; however, it is well worth it!  I love being able to have my brain and more accessible and laid out in such a way that I can make good decisions about prioritizing my projects and tasks.

One final tip
In order to be able to access my most used notebooks and tags, I put them in the shortcuts area of Evernote.

Shortcuts make it easy to find my most used Notebooks and Tags

Fortunately, I can arrange the shortcuts into an order that makes sense to me.

I am currently in the process of emptying my email program of as many saved emails as possible.  I think this is what really sold me on using Evernote.  After watching The Secret Weapon videos that I've mentioned a couple of times, I used their method to work on my inbox.  I was shocked when I wound up with an empty email inbox!  I literally dropped my jaw open.  (It's not currently empty, but I now have a great method to use to get them processed.)

What do you think so far?  Do you think you can now use Evernote to help you go {Almost} Paperless?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Intro to the Series

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Calendars

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote, Part 2

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote, Part 3

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Wunderlist

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  AnyList

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Final Thoughts

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Friday, March 28, 2014

{Almost} Paperless Organizing: Evernote, Part 2 (Post 4)

Welcome back!  Here is my continuing post about Evernote.  Today, I will get into the nitty-gritty of how to really make it sing and dance for you, and that involves using tags.

Main Categories of Tags
I have several main categories of tags:   tickler file, what, when, where, who, and miscellaneous tags.

Main Categories of Tags
You will notice that the note count (the first number) for these tags is 0 and there is another number following.  The second number tells how many subcategories there are for that main tag.  Most of these tags that you see have a . in front of it.  That serves two purposes:  for sorting and also to help me remember that no note should use that tag but a subcategorical tag.

.Tickler File tags
This is more of a work in progress.  I saw where someone else used tickler file tags and kinda of liked the idea, but I haven't really been able to implement it for my own purposes.  In case you don't know, a tickler file is one in which you place documents that you need for a particular day, month, or year.  We used to use tickler files at my former job as a customer service representative for a company who published financial newsletters.  We had a file box that contained 31 folders, one for each day of the month, as well as 12 other folders, one for every month of the year.  Every day, we looked in the file folder for that day of the month and see if anything needed to be done for that day.  On the first day of the month, we would look in the file folder for that new month and would take those documents and put them in the file folder for the particular days of that month.  It's a great system, but at this time I don't really have a use for it.  I may delete the .Month and .Year tags; for now, I will keep them just in case I decide I can use them.

.Holidays tags in the .Tickler File category

However, I did add in a set of tags for Holidays as you can see above.  The numbers refer to the month that the holiday falls in so that they sort in chronological order.  I don't yet have notes for every holiday, but at least I have the setup ready.  I already have 13 notes pertaining Easter; soon, I will look at those notes and see what activities I can do with my daughter.

.What tags
Several of these tags were recommended by other people (.Active Project, .Future Project, and .Inactive Project) but I have not found a practical use for myself at this time.

The .What tags
Even though I do have notes in Ideas and Reference, I am not convinced that I need those particular tags because I have notebooks that contain my ideas and reference material.

I do use the Read/Review tag for items that I would like to . . . well, read and review . . . at some time.

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, ok, so when are you going to tell me about tags that you DO use and that you DO find useful?  That's the next one coming up!

.When tags (my favorite)
If you are familiar with the Getting Things Done concept of time management (David Allen), you will recognize some of the tags found here.  I do recommend reading his book and other books that utilize his method.  It's very practical and provides a great method for thinking about tasks and projects.

Before I get into my .when tags, let me say that I think these are the most important tags to use to help you be more productive.  If a note has any kind of time significance to it, be sure to tag it with a .when tag.

Here are my when tags:

My .When tags
! Daily  (The ! is used to put this at the top) -- when I first started using tags, I used ! Daily to mark items that I wanted to look at every day.  I have since switched to using Wunderlist for my recurring tasks, so I do not need this one.  I know, I should delete it and quit talking about it. Moving on...

! Ongoing.  Umm, don't use anymore.  Nothing to see here.

! Weekly.  I do kind of use this.  Even though it says 3 notes, the only one is use is my cheat sheet for meal planning which reminds me where to find the recipes I will choose for the following week's meals.

1-Now   Ahhh!  Here we go.  1-Now are for items that are utmost in getting done NOW.  (Incidentally, writing blog posts is not marked 1-Now but serves as a great procrastinator.)  Last week, I had "Get stuff together for taxes" which I thankfully deleted once I delivered our stuff to our accountant.

1a-This Week  I use this for the recipes that I am making this week.  I needed a way to indicate that they are planned for somewhere between 1-Now and 2-Next and this works out fine.

2-Next  After I finish the 1-Now tasks or projects or if I'm looking for something else to do really soon, this is the tag I look under.

Here are some of my 2-Next notes.  Some refer to projects, some refer to random little things that I want or need to do soon, a couple of them are activities with Gracie which may not really be in the near future, but I do want to do.

2b-Waiting  This tag is for notes that need to be acted upon soon, but I'm waiting for someone else to do something so that I can go further with that item.  Three of these items are Honey-Do items.  One is a reminder to get people to get an insurance quote from State Farm and mention my name so that I can earn a $10 gift card.  (No strings attached.)

3-Soon.  These are for items that are a little down the road, perhaps within the next few months.  It may be that I know I do not have the time to do it now, but want to do it soon.

4-Later.  These are for items that I know I want to do, but will have to wait sometime.

5-Someday  These are for items that are some day in the future, but who knows when they can be done.  Want-to-but-don't-hold-your-breath.

The nice thing about these tags is that over time you can review the items with particular tags and change them to a different .when.  For example, in my Memphis Things to Do Notebook, I have 17 different things listed.  See the screenshot below:

Most of these are places that I will go to with Gracie.  We recently visited the Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum with some friends and wanted to ride the downtown trolley, but the trolley line was closed down due to a fire incident.  I have marked those two items as 2-Next because I want to go there before any of the other places.   3-Soon are for places that I know I can visit soon without too much trouble. (By the way, in case you're wondering, the cemetery one is to scout out for a photoshoot location.)  Since spring has arrived and the weather is nicer, I can see where I can change some of the tags on these (the Zoo, for example).

6- . . . umm, where did it go?  Hmmm....obviously, I deleted it, but I don't remember what it said.

7-Weekend  I saw where someone used this to indicate tasks that were to be done on a weekend.  I haven't used this and I probably won't.

8-Did This.  To date, once I've completed something, I've deleted it from Evernote.  I'll keep it in case I want to keep notes for something I did.

That's enough for one post.  I'll continue talking about the .Where, .Who, and .Misc tags in the next post (or two).

Do you see how useful the tags are for time management and setting priorities?  What else can you think of to add?

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Intro to the Series

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Calendars

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote, Part 2

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Evernote, Part 3

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Wunderlist

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  AnyList

{Almost} Paperless Organizing:  Final Thoughts

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