Use a daily to-do note to track your tasks using Evernote and an iPad

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In reviewing my top 2012 blog posts it became clear that my most popular topic is Evernote. In fact, there are only two posts in 2012 that appeared on the top 10 that did not have Evernote as a key topic. This makes sense given that Evernote continues to be the center of my productivity world across all of my devices. To that end I want to write about a recent tweak in my productivity workflow. This change includes the creation of a daily task list in Evernote with a line and check-box for each task. This single note idea augments my Daniel E. Gold/Secret Weapon/Tag based task management system.

As I wrote here I utilize tags and titles with dates to organize my tasks by context and time period. This process has served me well over the last year, but it does involve adjusting tags on task notes as I either complete a task or adjust its context. For instance I like to keep track of tasks I have completed so that I can look back at a project to see the total effort it took to complete a project. This means that as I complete something tagged as 1now, I used to remove the 1now tag and then move the note to the CompletedTasks notebook. This process works fine and is quick on a desktop computer but slow on iOS. And, more importantly the process to add a task with tags on iOS takes several steps and is slow, especially on Evernote 5. Because I do a lot of my task management on my iOS devices I needed a process that was quicker and more efficient. And this is where the concept of my TODAY note came from.

Here is my process that retains my existing tagging/context/project structure but simplifies the process of creating and processing tasks during the day.

  1. Every morning or at the end of the day before I create a note with the following title: YYYYMMDD TODAY
  2. I add tasks for that day with a checkbox for each
  3. I tag the note with 1now so it appears on saved searches. I add tasks and check off tasks as the day progresses; the TODAY note generally stays up on my iPad, iPhone and my Computer throughout the day
  4. At the end of the day I tag the note with each project that I worked on that day
  5. I archive the note in my Completed tasks notebook. You can adjust the workflow by removing the 1now or you could delete the note if keeping a log of your completed tasks is not important.
  6. If I started a task from TODAY but am waiting for someone else I create a separate task note flagged as 6waiting. This task is picked up later when the person I am waiting for either completes the their task or I pick it up as I review the WAITING folder.

You may be wondering about all of the tasks that are on my list but which I am not working on today. This is where my new system is a hybrid of my old one; I keep tasks that are waiting to be processed tagged as 2Next, 3Soon, 4Someday, etc. As I am ready to process tasks from my other tags I either create a line on my TODAY note for that task with a checkbox and delete the original note OR if I have information stored in the task note itself I simply add a note link to that task in my TODAY note with a check box. Once the task is complete I check the box on the note link and then complete out the task note by adjusting the tags accordingly.

This is not a perfect process, but it is a simple one that can evolve as you become more comfortable with Evernote. One other benefit of this process is that I can keep a running log of ideas, notes, thoughts, etc. on the TODAY note as the day evolves all from one place on Evernote. This provides a simple way to journal the day for later reference. And, the beauty of the single note/checkbox setup for today's tasks is just how simple and quick it is to work with this note on your iPad or your other hand-held devices.

Do you have a unique way of using Evernote to manage your tasks on your iPad?

P.S. An evolution of my process is contained in this excellent post. Stay tuned for a future post and a new Evernote Template!

 

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