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Best way to get an item from idea/email/conversation to in the list

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  • Best way to get an item from idea/email/conversation to in the list

    I am new to the forum but I was searching around for this topic and didn't find anything specific on it.

    My current GTD setup is a series of lists in Evernote, each in their own note. So Next Actions is a notebook, then @Home or @Office context is a note within, each with separate bullet points. I have an Inbox in Evernote set as my default, and I can email right into that inbox.

    So for example, I email someone to ask them to do an analysis, then send it to me. I BCC my Evernote email (because I can email right into it), then I am done with the task in Outlook. Then every 1-2 days I empty the inbox and add this event to my @Waitingfor list.

    My issue, though, is that I get literally 100+ things like this per day that I am asking for, needing to accomplish, etc - and it takes me a half hour a day to update the lists because of the setup. You may say "you just have too many things" but that isn't the case, I accomplish them -I just need a better way to move the idea of the action over to the list more efficiently.

    I have thought about doing like Daniel Gold and making each Note an action (so the @Waitingfor is a notebooks with each of those emails a note) - however, renaming the subject lines in order to make each action meaningful is time consuming.

    I have thought about a service like remember the milk to email into, but I have the same problem as above.

    I would like to be able to print the list, although it isn't 100% required. Additionally, offline access/updating is very necessary.

    I have thought about an assistant but at some point you are typing to her the action you want her to add, just do it myself and safe the effort.

    Any suggestions for how to better manage this problem? New system? Any help is much appreciated!

  • #2
    A half-hour a day isn't much to spend if you are really dealing with 100+ list changes per day. However, your approach does seem a bit complicated. Could you explain why you do things as you do?


    • #3
      Waiting for your reply to mcogilvie let's try to have a look to send email to Toodledo because in the subject you could predetermine which is the right place to add it. Eventually in Toodledo you can allow a secretary to access your list, or some of your list


      • #4
        Suggestion: when sending the original email, use a subject line that's meaningful both to you and to the other person, so no need to change it later. Then, bcc it directly into an email inbox which is a waiting-for list (or whatever you need it to be) -- no need to move it later. You might put a keyword in the subject line (e.g. "WF" meaning "waiting for" -- unless that will have your recipients puzzling over the acronym) and have your email system recognize that and put it straight into the appropriate box. Other emails could be keyed to go straight into an "action" folder or something.

        You could use subject lines like "Please send me sales report (to self: for analysis at yearly meeting)" or be more cryptic: "Please send me sales report (myfile: YM)"


        • #5
          Why I do things the way I do

          I like the idea of using as few programs as possible. I use Evernote for mind-dumping - ubiquitous collection of ideas, project support actions, etc. I can store my someday items (as notes), to read items, etc all in one place that is available everywhere (android/web/computer) and offline. So I started using Evernote for next action collection as well, and putting them into one note separated by context worked pretty well because I can pull up my @Call list driving down the road thru the android app and knock out a few calls.

          If I were using one note per task I could do the same thing, the downside is that I couldn't print a "task list" like I do now, also scheduling would be a bit cumbersome (although not in conflict with GTD, I don't think). But it would still take considerable work to modify/add the notes w/subjects to become next actions.

          Also, there seem to be a shortage of real ubiquitous to do list tools out there that are accessible anywhere...

          Bottom line is that I may just be trying to do too much and no tool will solve the problem.


          • #6
            Evernote & GTD

            I have been using GTD for over 5 years (and it changed my life)!

            I also use Evernote and stumbled upon "TSW,", which is one method of using Evernote and GTD. It is fairly easy to configure, and I bcc emails using the setup they recommend. I have two jobs (one where I travel; am an adjunct professor for an online university) and am fairly ADHD, so it if works for me....

            I actually found out about TSW here on the forum, so you might do a search on the forums after you check it out, if it interests you.

            TSW is free and they have a pdf "manifesto" that you can download.

            Of course, as most will tell you, there are a myriad of implementation methods, so you always have to find out what works best for you. As you are already using Evernote and familiar, TSW might be an easy-ish transition for you.


            • #7
              I have an email heavy-work life and so tracking email in my Evernote system just had to be smooth for me. I use Powerbot Gmail add-in (rather than the bcc: because it allows me to process and organise the email while in my email box.

              And in my Evernote system, each action item is a different entry so it's pretty easy to slot these @waiting for or @action emails into evernote in one action.

              You can read more about my setup here:


              • #8
                EN based GTD

                Evernote (EN) was the key to making GTD start to work for me because I was finally able to find a place to dump all my piles of "Stuff" into a place that was searchable and trustworthy. I was able to let go of the physical paper once I knew I could access it (and more more reliably then when piled everywhere in my environment). Filing into folders in drawers has never worked for me because "out of sight, out of mind" and I knew it so I never filed, just piled.

                I use FastEver on my iPhone as my primary capture tool and I don't worry about tagging. I just write thoughts there and hit Send and it ends up in my Inbox for processing later. This alone made a huge difference in my life.

                I use CamScanner app similarly for minor receipts and anything scanned ends up in my EN Inbox.

                All emails that require actions or response are fwd to EN inbox and then moved into a separate folder for later replies. I thread the emails with subject line of patient name and client so that I can refer back to them swiftly.

                I have a Canon imageForumula scan-tini that I can carry with me to/from ofc and out of town meetings and use when needed. Thinking about adding a desktop model for the huge backlogs but this is handy for the as needed "stuff".

                I've been dumping my PDFs of research background articles into EN because they become searchable.

                Scanning memorabilia into there has made it easier to hold onto a few treasured physical items but let go of things of which I just want a reminder.

                I structured EN using the secret weapons' suggested form but am gradually getting down to more folders and less tagging. I am using tags just for context, agendas and subcategories that I use routinely (saved searches) but most commonly just use the excellent search tool.

                Because I am almost always with a phone, laptop, iPhone... dividing NA's into context does not seem to help much and that has proved to be a problem with deciding what best to do next. I am either in appts or it is wide open. It then becomes easiest to just deal with the email about a critically ill dog in Greece (latest and loudest) rather than other things that might better serve my long term goals.

                The weekly review, when I force myself to do it, is THE powerful tool for keeping all the balls in the air that everyone keeps stating here over and over. If I can just lift my head out of the moment to moment cries for my attention to survey the landscape, I do regain some sanity.

                The lack of the ability to print a list of the notes that contain next actions is a problem with EN. Sometimes I will do a printscreen of the listed items in my Today folder, other times I just grab a pen and paper and jot down the must do's. I always over-estimate the amount that I can accomplish in any time-frame but the original list of all that I want to accomplish is still in the EN folder for reference.

                The weekly review is the only way I can manage to avoid lists becoming stale and piling up. These piles of dead lists were what I left in my wake after my first attempt to do GTD back in 2008. I am still finding them as I go through backlog.

                I started all this back in August 2012 and I have a long way to go in my GTD practice to get anywhere near blackbelt but I have less of a feeling that I am drowning and I see light at the end of the tunnel. Some of this has been an acceptance that I cannot do it all. Just capturing all my commitments was a huge step toward change. There is a reason I feel overwhelmed... it is not humanly possible to accomplish what I had agreed to before I had a way to survey the entirety of everything grabbing my attention.

                Freemind, the free mindmapping software, has been a powerful tool for me to get forward motion on large projects that had been stalled because they had seemed too daunting. I have trouble tracking linearly and being able to create child nodes as I brainstorm allows me to find identifiable and actionable paths once I have completed my brain dump on a project.

                Thank you to everyone here on the Forum. Your past posts with tips and tricks are always useful.

                ~ Linda


                • #9

                  Your love of Freemind might inspire me to try it. Thanks.

                  Additionally, I am wondering why you have the need to print your to-do list from EN? Why don't/can't you just view your to-do's on your iPhone?