Omnifocus – The GTD Tickler Files

Omnifocus – The GTD Tickler Files

I have been meaning to post this for a while, but it’s the reason I keep coming back to Omnifocus.

I am perpetually torn with Omnifocus being over complex, yet feeling like home to me for tracking my tasks.  When things go into Omnifocus, I have always felt like they get done.  I have also never felt like I am flooded with the entire list of tasks.

They key to Omnifocus and this balanced feeling is two-fold:  Perspectives and Defer Until.

Perspectives

The key thing here is you are on a “need to know” basis.   You can set up perspectives to let you see what you want, when you want based on needs.  The great thing is, if you have tasks that need to be done serially, you can let Omnifocus only show you the NEXT ACTION you can take to make progress on your project.  This saves you from having to look at all of the remaining items when you can’t actually do anything with them.   This is such a time saver.

You can customize your perspectives and name them what you want with the pro version  Trust me, your time is worth getting the pro version.   Here is a sample of the details of my TODAY perspective.  You can see how you can edit and tweak this to your hearts content.

Today Perspective
Today Perspective

Defer Until

This is the real magic here for me.  When I am adding tasks into my task list, often they are things I need to do soon.  Sometimes they are tasks that I don’t need to worry about for a long time.  For instance, if I know I need to follow up on a task to talk to someone in 4 months about a potential project, why do I want that task staring at me every day?  I don’t!  That is just wasted thinking every time I see it.

By creating a task with a Defer Date, you can essentially hide that task away from view until you are ready to see it.  (when combined with the above perspectives).   This is amazing.  I have a lot of tasks I want recurring as well that I defer.  Changing the oil in my car, clean the gutters, etc.  I defer all of these tasks so they go away until I am ready to do them.

Defer Until

I really think this is what draws me back in to Omnifocus when I contemplate trying other software.  Start Date, Defer Until, or whatever you want to call it.. just get it out of my face until I need it.

Wunderlist Vs. Omnifocus – How I struggle with the choice

Wunderlist Vs. Omnifocus – How I struggle with the choice

I may be a bit of a productivity junky.  I am that person who spends more time learning about being productive than being productive sometimes.  I have definitely forced myself to stick to my guns when it comes to making progress on tasks for work however I am perpetually tweaking my tools.

My previous solution of using Evernote had so many advantages I loved but at the end of the day, finding a simple view of what I needed to be focused on for the day provide challenging.  (without a lot of adding/removing tags, moving notes, etc)

I went all in on Omnifocus for quite some time.  The thing I realize I liked most out of Omnifocus was the flexibility to create perspectives.  The planning and defer options were key.   I could really start to focus on what mattered and not feel overwhelmed by ALL of my tasks.   The hard part was, I never felt I was a master of Perspectives.  I even bought David Sparks great Omnifocus Video Field Guide.  I watched it on my plane trip to London.  It really helped me learn some new techniques.

I was forever feeling like I was missing tasks in the view I cared about.  That worried me.  I also felt that quickly adding tasks became a challenge.  To really be good I had to assign to a project AND context for every task.  Context became a bit of a struggle because sometimes I wanted to use it more like a tag.  I want to mark something as @read and @commute so when I am in the mood to read, or on my commute, I could get things done.  This was not possible.

I switched over to Wunderlist AGAIN!  I really like the look and simplicity of Wunderlist.  A couple of my favorite features are Attachments and Comments.   A bonus now is the fact they have folders and #tags.  The attachments piece makes it easy for me to attach a document to my tag and get to it quickly.  Arguably, this is a bad habit.  I really should not bloat my task list with attachments, but I do it.

The Comments make it super easy to track progress if I am TRYING to get a task done but it’s not completed.  Maybe the task is “Verify requirements for NEW FEATURE with Alex”.  If I reach out to Alex on email, I add a comment.  I then set a follow up reminder on this for a day or two and hope Alex responds.   If he does not, I go find Alex.. or call him, or some other method.. smoke signal maybe.  I annotate my task and keep track.  This helps me understand why my task is not done.  In Omnifocus, I used the notes field for this and had a keyboard shortcut of .dd to insert DATE/TIME stamp for each entry I made.  Wunderlist just does this better.

I REALLY struggle with OmniFocus vs. Wunderlist.  Here is where I see some key gaps that would make Wunderlist the perfect app for me.

Smart Folders or Saved Searches

I really want to look at things I have flagged AND due today.  Currently this is two different lists.   If I could create a smart list and set some criteria (similar to a saved search), then I could fix this issue.  It also would make it infinitely more powerful by searching for things like #read and #commute to fill gaps in time when I need to pick off a task.

Defer Dates

There are a lot of tasks that recur, or are not needed until a certain time.  Think of them as START DATES.   If I know I need to test run my generator in June, and It’s April right now, I don’t want to see that task until June.  It just clutters up my list.  I could REALLY use Start or Defer dates to help.  Follow up items are an other great use for this.   Follow up with Bob on Friday.. and that task disappears until Friday.

Folder View

Wunderlist gave us the ability to organize by folders finally.  The one thing they missed.. they don’t let you view a folder all at once.   I have a bunch of projects going on at work.  When I am planning my day I want to skim all of my projects for tasks I need to complete.  Currently, in Wunderlist, I have to go project by project and look at each list to see if I want to accomplish something today.  Just let me click the WORK folder and see all tasks grouped by project.  This would be so much easier.

SUMMARY

For now I am stuck.  I keep bouncing back and forth between Omnifocus and Wunderlist.  Omnifocus is a bit too powerful and cumbersome at times, but has the power I need when I want to be a GTD Ninja.  Oh.. but it looks like crap IMHO.  Wunderlist looks amazing, and is super quick and simple to use.. but lacks the ability for me to be a power user.

UGH.. what to do.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Just please don’t tell me to use ToDoist.  The Mac app is a wrapper on the webpage and NOT a good experience.  It is just not for me.  I want a good thick-client experience.

iCloud Drive – Apple needs to fix this product

iCloud Drive – Apple needs to fix this product

I am not sure why Apple feels the need to restrict the way I use iCloud Drive.  They believe they are helping users by trying to take the file system away from the user so they don’t have to think about it.  I can’t speak for everyone, but this is my largest frustration.

iCloud Drive

When I look at iCloud Drive, I see a bunch of folders by application.  I don’t organize my files this way.  I organize them by project I am working on.  If I am working on “Project X”, I put all files related to that project in a folder, then it is all in one tidy location.  iCloud Drive, by default, tries to force you to put everything in a sub-folder by application.  That is just strange.

Apple should look at something like Dropbox.  I can see every folder I want and organize HOW I want.  It does not have the concept of “by application” filing systems.

IMG_6815

The really strange part for me is when I contemplate opening a file on a project.  Let’s say on my iPhone, I open Pages.  I can’t get to anything other than what is in my Pages folder.  Apple won’t even expose the entire folder structure to you.  This drives me bonkers.

I get they are not trying to compete with Dropbox directly, but if you want me to dump a bunch of files in your system and become dependent on you, it better work with my workflow.. or it won’t fly.  I would love if Apple got to the point of sharing simplicity like Dropbox.  I know they are trying with some stuff integrated into Mail.app, but it is not enough yet.

My preference is to let the user control how they organize.  File systems are intuitive. Don’t try to “save me from myself”.. let me do it my way.

 

Detailed Routine Using Evernote for Tasks and Tracking

Detailed Routine Using Evernote for Tasks and Tracking

This post covers an update of how I am using Evernote as my task manager, and in my daily routine. I had covered some of this in my Using Evernote for Tasks post, but I have refined it since then, so I wanted to update.

 

What was important to me for a task manager?

There were quite a few things I have realized over the years that are important for me when it comes to tracking tasks.  What I realize, is I consider “tasks” to be anything from quick ToDo items, to projects that I break down into smaller tasks, or even workspaces for tasks.  I tend to do most of these things in Evernote.

I intentionally break down shopping lists and recurring home chores in a different process. That is covered later.

The key items for my Evernote tasks has come down to the following:

  • Set DUE DATE reminders on tasks
  • Timestamp updates to tasks to show progress, recent events, etc
  • Quite often, the task needs a workspace
  • An easy way to create a Daily journal of the work I am doing
  • An easy to create weekly journal based on the M-F week
  • Linking parts of tasks to Evernote Notes (Evernote is my workspace)
  • Cross Device visibility
  • Tagging by project – I find that folders get too restrictive, I will explain later
  • Sorting recently edited by tasks/notes:
    • Today
    • Since Yesterday (for reviews)
    • This Week

 

Previous Attempts of Task Related Software

I’ve tried many things in the past.  Some worked better than others for a period of time.  Below is a summary of the key things that have/have not worked for some period of time.

Omnifocus (http://www.omnifocus.com)

Omnifocus is always top of discussion when it comes to power users.  I often think of myself as a power user because of the time I have been in tech, I’ve been a developer and I often try a lot of software.  Here is what I learned.  Omnifocus just didn’t work for my workflow.

 

Who knows, maybe I’ve not spent enough time with Omnifocus.  I think Omnifocus is beautiful ugly but well designed.  I think they have done a great job of providing GTD context options as part of the tool.  They really have put a lot into the thinking behind how you use Omnifocus.  I just felt, at the end of the day, it was not as easy for me to use simply.  I couldn’t link my Evernote notes as easily here and it just felt like a hassle.

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Wunderlist (http://www.wunderlist.com)

This was my favorite of the standard “To Do” type applications.  I felt there was a great balance of features, simplicity and looks.  One of my favorite features of Wunderlist is the shared lists.  I still use this today for my shopping lists.  My wife and I share lists together that we can jointly add to.  They include

  • Grocery
  • Lowes (for hardware needs)
  • Target
  • Costco

 

This product is quick and easy to use, syncs great across devices.. but again, cross linking to my notes in my workspace was a challenge.

 687CFF6F-20B8-46F5-BEAE-988C1A214737

 

Trello (http://www.trello.com)

Trello is really amazing.  It is a digital KanBan board. It provides you flexible lanes of work that are called lists.  These lists can contain cards.   The cards contain all the details of the items you are working on.   This was my most recent favorite tool to use.  Again it comes back to the integration (or lack of) with Evernote.  I am just too tied to Evernote for my workspace.

 F1E6DEBD-6653-4ADA-9FAB-CAED0DFB5610

OTHERS

  • Asana
  • Things
  • ToDoist
  • Toodledo
  • Remember The Milk

Current Evernote Folder Structure

I am in a perpetual state of tweaking my folder structure to provide the optimum balance of “Ease of use” vs. “Comprehensive Structure”.  Why I care about the latter, I don’t know.  I should really focus on the ease of use part.

Some of the folders have a . (period) in front of them.  This is only to force a sort order on them.  You can also prefix with numbers, but I am fine with the order I have here and didn’t need more control.

Here is my current structure

  • ..Inbox
  • ..Journal
  • ..Tasks
    • .Due Today
    • .This Week
    • .Upcoming
    • .Waiting For
    • .Archive
  • .WORK
    • .Customer History
    • General
    • Team
    • Meetings
    • Reference
    • Routine Meetings
  • Personal
    • Career
    • Home
    • Ideas
    • Networking
    • Tasks – Personal
    • Tasks – Upcoming

 

..Inbox

This is where everything comes in to for Evernote.  It is my default notebook.  It doesn’t matter what capture tool I use, things will drop here for processing later. This can also become my “working folder”.  The reason being, I know it will get processed every morning at the longest.

..Journal

This is where I track everything happening by day.  Below when I describe a typical day, you will see how things will end up here.

..Tasks

I have a process each morning, and each week where I look at the work I am doing, and place the tasks in the appropriate buckets.  UPCOMING is where all of my tasks go when I am waiting to schedule them.  When I need to move them to get worked on, they go into the THIS WEEK bucket.  Each morning I try to place the items I want to get accomplished in the DUE TODAY folder.   This is where I spend my focus to ensure I complete work.

Each task I create gets a due date, or gets moved to an upcoming folder so I don’t lose track of it.  I love having tasks in Evernote so I can make the note a “work area” for the task.  Some tasks have almost no body to the note, some tasks get tons of data in them, attachments, journaled entries of progress, etc.  (almost mini projects).  It just depends.

Daily Workflow/Weekly Workflow

When I get in the office in the morning, I have come to really appreciate a structured morning.  I almost never allow myself to get into work and be thrown right in to the thick of things.  If that happens, my day goes to hell in my head.  Sure, fires may not be happening, but I don’t know that.  I really like to stick to my routine.

Details of morning

Here is my morning ritual for work, in rough order.

Every morning at 7AM, my IFTTT Recipe Runs.  This gives me my starting note for the day.  This is the start of my basic checklist.  When I get to the office, the newest note in my Evernote Inbox is this.

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The first thing I do is highlight all of the items in the list and hit COMMAND-SHIFT T.  This converts those items to checkboxes. Then I go to the title of the note and hit COMMAND-SHIFT-D, which makes my title a full date format I like.  Also note that my IFTTT recipe auto tagged this note as JOURNAL when it was created.  (saves me a step later).  Now, my note looks like this.

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Next I start going through my Checklist.  The first thing is reviewing my Calendar.  This way, if there are any morning meetings I must run to, or prep for, I have that knowledge.

From here, I go to my ..tasks list and see what reminders I have to take care of.  If you click the parent in the stack, you can see all tasks with due dates.  This lets me move any due today into my Due Today folder.  This becomes my area of focus for today.

CA2B7C42-8C88-4266-BAF4-00F8447879EE

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Now a simple little trick I do is this.  I highlight all of the items I have moved to Due Today, then select CREATE TABLE OF CONTENTS.  This generates a list of notes and links them automatically.   I copy/paste that over to my dated journal note I mentioned earlier (for today), and paste them below the checkbox items.   I then do a quick highlight of them, turn off the bullet number, and turn on checkboxes.  Now, I have my start of my list for today that I care about.  I work from this Today’s List and keep it in my inbox.  It also makes it easy to get to the notes as I get to the task.  They are linked.  This is how I make each task my “workspace” in Evernote.

 FDF3B424-EE7A-4050-87EF-62CCFEE5026D

I also go back to yesterday’s list to make sure I didn’t miss anything. If I did, I move it to Today’s list and prioritize.

 

Throughout the day

Now that I have my list of things I need to focus on, I can start going through my tasks. As I complete them, I check them off in my Today’s List, as well as the Evernote Reminder checklist.  When a task is completed, the Evernote Note associated with that task gets moved to the ARCHIVE.  This way I keep a running record of all items completed, and then my Note Links stay intact and don’t break either.

I create a bulleted list below the tasks of the day.  This gives me a way to lightly journal the day as it progresses.   When I do little things I want to remember, talk to people, field a call or go to a meeting, these all get added to my bullet list for the day.  If I have to go to a meeting, I will create the meeting note based on my Meeting Template.   When the meeting is complete, I ensure it is tagged with MEETING, I copy the note link to paste in my daily journal and I move the note to the MEETING archive folder.  (also extract any action items out of it)

End of day

At the end of the day I want to capture all of the work I did and make sure it goes into the Daily Journal entry.  This is pretty easy in Evernote.

  • I search for all notes edited today (using a saved search option)
  • Once I get that list, I select all and click CREATE TABLE OF CONTENTS note
  • I select all from that new TOC note
  • I go back to my daily journal and paste it at the bottom of my note below the bullet items for the day (separated by a horizontal rule).  This way I can see all notes that I touched that day.

A typical end of day note will look like this.

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End of week

At the end of the week I do my weekly review.  Everyone has their own version of what that entails, and I will say I refine mine on a regular basis.  the key things I like to make sure I do are the following:

  • Clean off desk of any remaining work papers
  • Scan any documents I need to save into Evernote
  • Prep any notes for next weeks upcoming meetings as needed
  • Write my weekly update
      • Overview of the week
      • Progress on goals this week (with links to notes)
      • Upcoming in the next week
      • Links to any key documents, sites, etc

 

Next..

This covers my daily routine for Evernote.  In an upcoming post, I will cover more of how I use Evernote for Meetings, Sharing and how I integrate other tools with my habits.

Why Evernote tasks works for me

Why Evernote tasks works for me

Current Software I use

I am a Mac guy. Having been a former Windows user, switching to Mac was as much about the aesthetic design of apps as it was the UX. I tend to lean on apps that work, but look great too.
  • Evernote
  • Google Docs
  • Omnigraffle
  • Day One Journal
  • Skitch
  • Rhapsody (of course)
  • Mailbox
  • Humin (iPhone replacement phone app)
  • Hipstamatic
  • Snapseed
Let me guess, this sounds a lot like you? I know, right? Many of us tend to land on the same software. So, why is it so hard to find a productivity process that feels comfortable and works for everyone? I find so many people posting how they use X or Y, which makes total sense to me. (until I try it). It then feels cumbersome and odd. This could largely be due to lack of building a habit on my part, but who knows.

Productivity Junky

I’ve used a LOT of software to manage tasks in the past. I am sure we are similiar in that many of our tasks come through email. I have always tried to strike that balance between email as a task management solution, and keeping the inbox empty.
SIDE NOTE: Full inboxes drive me bat-shit crazy. How can you feel on top of things with 10,000 messages in your in box, then search for things? You are a better person than I am.
  • I have tried basic Outlook tasks. didn’t seem too bad, but I left Outlook behind years ago.
  • I used to love RememberTheMilk. Over time I realized that it was too cumbersome for my workflow. It did work well, but it faded away for me as simpler solutions came into play
  • Google tasks in GMail was just too simple. While the email integration is great, it lacked other features. I need to track notes and I prefer to attach things to my tasks.
  • Things was my go-to for quite a while. At the end of the day, a lack of good notes and attachments pulled me away from this.
  • Wunderlist caught my attention with their updates the past year. I did like using this one for a while.
  • Evernote Reminders was my dream for many years. Even with that, it’s taken me a while to get a workflow I enjoy.

Recent Tasks Switch

I was most recently using ToDoist. I think this is one of the better looking to-do apps I have seen. I jumped right in, starting building things out and paid the money to be a premier subscriber. (mental note: don’t forget to cancel that)
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ToDoist Sample List TOC
You can see by the items on the left how I was starting to structure this. I was only a week or so into it before I pulled the rip cord. Likely not enough time to build a great habit, but enough to learn something.
I had project lists, items I wanted to track for meetings, things for the house. Heck, I even was getting into putting reminders about keeping in touch with people. This is something I am inherently bad at, so a reminder never hurts. At the end of the day, I put a lot of time trying to keep up with this, but ended up punting on it.

What Didn’t Work

The big thing that didn’t work for me was two key functional workflows I use. I will describe them here:

Lack of open and flexible notes on tasks

When I start a task, I want to keep track of some important items. Too often in the past I would create a task that when viewed 3 days later, I was confused and sure someone else put that task on my list. I had never even heard of the item in question and felt like a Twilight Zone episode.
Now when I create tasks, I try to list the due date, stakeholders and a small summary of success for the task. It takes a few extra minutes for bigger items, but it’s worth feeling like things are “covered”.

Lack of attachments on tasks

This is simple. When I get an email to review something, I’d rather the item be directly in the task and not in some other system I have to go get.

Easy way to summarize my work for a day/week

One of the things I like is a way to summarize and scan what I have been working on. Completed task lists are OK for this, but lack many of the details. (as you see above how I track notes on tasks)

Why I switched back to Evernote

This is why Evernote works for me:

Notes on Tasks

I come back with follow up items in the tasks I am working on and date stamp my ‘progress’. Who I talked to, what I am waiting for, etc. See the example below. (from Evernote)
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You can see how over time, the task (sometimes a larger task) can have sub-items or lots of follow up.

Attachments on Tasks

This is easy. Evernote lets me drag attachments, forward from emails, etc. I know these are available for me on all devices and if I have to share them with people associated with the task, it’s easy to generate a link to the task for people to view from the web.

Easy way to Summarize

This is one of my favorite “Evernote Hacks”. When you are done working for the day, go to your NOTES view in Evernote. Ensure you are in the LIST VIEW, and sort by UPDATED.
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Now, the cool part here. Select all notes edited during this day. You will see a screen that looks something like this:
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Now, click the CREATE TABLE OF CONTENTS NOTE button. This will create a single note with a table of contents for all notes edited that day. Title that note with today’s date. (I happen to tag mine JOURNAL as well)
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You can then file this away in a journal folder and easily come back to any day, see the tasks or notes you had worked on and quickly access them. Easily my favorite use for Evernote and tasks.

Conclusion

Evernote works for me, for now; and how I work today. It isn’t for everyone. I am sure I will wait until the next cool new task managers come out to take them for a spin. At the end of the day, Evernote is working for me. I use it daily for notes and tasks. It is always open for me. This is why I am back on Evernote; For good.. until I am distracted again by a new app.
My reasons for using Evernote to track tasks

My reasons for using Evernote to track tasks

I know there are a ton of great task management tools out there.  The challenge I have always had with them probably comes down to my own diligence in using them.   I never got in the habit of using one particular program over another.  I love RememberTheMilk for a long time. I used Things for quite a few months.. and recently I had tried Wunderlist.

Problem I was solving
The problem is, these always felt like yet another tool/place to go each day.  I would not develop great habits around checking my lists.  I even tended to start to ignore reminders from them.  (worst possible thing for task management).  What I noticed is that every day I was already using Evernote to do the bulk of the work for my tasks.  Why not just use Evernote Reminders?

The Benefit
The biggest benefit I got from this was not the single tool, although that helped me a ton.  The largest reason I have stuck with this has to do with context.  Now, when I had a task to accomplish, Evernote gave me the space to to the actual work associated with that task right there.   One of my handiest things I use now is pretty simple.  I place a date followed by a horizontal rule in reverse chronological order in my “task” as I work on it.

I don’t try to make a task a “project”.  I really try to keep it a task.  Often this includes following up with people, getting data, etc.  I can capture that all in my note.  Then  I have a history to go back and look at as well.

Structure
I have a notebook stack that contains all of my live projects.  All meeting notes, tasks and research go into the sub-folder for that project.  This means I have a single source of the project data.  This also gives me the ability to look at the project stack and see all outstanding tasks.

Every new task gets a note.  Every new meeting gets a note.  Every day I look at my notes list and I select all notes edited that day and create a Table of Contents notes.  I then tag that journal, title it with today’s date and I have a journal of what I touched that day.   For meetings, I tag the note as MEETING as well as tag each person in the meeting as a tag.  I’ve decided this is easier for me to search for tags of people across everything rather than searching the text.

I also keep a folder called .Daily in my project notebook stack.  The period before the name just helps to sort it at the top.  The items in .Daily are items I should do each day, or review.  (it really includes weekly items as well, but I look in there every day to be reminded of things)

Summary
For me, this has proven to be the solution that works.  I encourage you to find the solution that works for you and don’t assume someone has found the magic bullet.  They only found THEIR magic bullet.  This happens to be mine.

EvernoteTask

How I am using Evernote for Presentations now

How I am using Evernote for Presentations now

OK, when I say now..I mean from now on.   I think this is my new found time saver.   How may times are you taking notes and working in Evernote, just to turn around and format those notes in Keynote or Powerpoint just to show them to somebody else?

I know that sometimes it makes sense in the context of a full on business meeting, but when you are quickly capturing thoughts and need to get info to your team, and responses back.. this is SOOOO much better in my view.  Enough already, how do I do it you ask?

evernote-mac-presentation

I know you have heard that you can do presentation mode in Evernote.  This is not new.  (although recently updated)  I see a couple ways to use this.

One thing I like to keep in mind is to do an outline for a real presentation first.  This gets your mind thinking ahead of time about the story you are telling, the goals, and the supporting data.   If you can’t get this down simply in text first, you will struggle.  I also feel like too many people focus on existing slides they have, how to squeeze them into their story and the deck grows to 70+ slides.  This is never good.  Stop, tell a concise story and do it simply first.

Here is how I think about a presentation:

Presentation Goal: Demonstrate to COMPANY X how they should focus their BLAH to attract additional users of the Mobile Internet.

TIPS:

  • Titles should always read the key point. If you read only Titles, would you get the point of the deck?
  • Titles should always be framed in the affirmative
  • Data is supporting the key point in the Title


SLIDE 1:

Goal: Demonstrate that COMPANY X should look to other carriers to learn where they can get incremental Mobile Internet adoption
Title: Company X is lagging behind in Y that is causing a lack of mobile adoption
Data: A graph that shows % of X,Y,Z and compares

etc…

This is where Evernote shines.  Creating an outline is great for this.  It’s easy and quick, and when you are done you will have your simple presentation. So long as you don’t need to do a formal Keynote deck.. you should be able to get your point across to your organization quickly.

 

Presentation in Evernote using a Single Note

This to me is the quickest and dirtiest way to get some information captured and present it.  You can create your outline and go very quickly.  You don’t need tons of fancy graphics and animations.  You are just trying to sell something internally for buyoff, or get people informed of something.

I usually make my slide title all capital letters, and bold it.  This helps it stand out in presentation mode.  Then I provide any text, data, key bullets and images below, all in a very concise format.  Think about adding more “slides” vs longer ones with more data.

SLIDE TITLE
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed sodales libero sit amet urna aliquam, sagittis pulvinar enim condimentum. Etiam dui justo, tincidunt vel odio a, mattis egestas lectus. Duis sed congue nibh.
 * Key Point: Details of the point
 * Key Point: Details of the point
 * Key Point: Details of the point

Now, I’ve found if you keep this concise, you can use a horizontal rule after each “slide” to cause Evernote to separate them in presentation mode.  I’ve found it not to be perfect every time, but it’s darn close. Now, just add each section with your outline, and data.. Rules in between and you are done.  One note that also acts as a presentation.

If you want to see a sample deck with Horizontal Rules as separators, check out this note.  You can add it to your Evernote and try the presentation.

Multiple Notes to Create a Presentation

The other way to do this is to create a single note for each key point you want to make.  Then, once you are done you can select all the notes and select “create table of contents” as shown here:

Evernote_Premium

This will create a note with a table of contents that links to each separate note.  This makes it easy to reorder your “deck” and select items to present.  Re-title your note and you are ready to go.  This is also a great way to have an agenda slide and track where you are in the presentation.

Evernote_Premium 2

The great thing about this way is you can be a bit more modular and reuse portions of other presentations.  It also makes it easy to include documents, videos, notes from meetings, etc.

I am going to start using this internally from now on at my work.  I see this as a huge time saver when presenting for quick signoff internally.  Focus on the content, not the format.

I would love to hear how others are using this, and to what extent you are having luck.

 

 

 

 

Working on my productivity habits for 2014

Working on my productivity habits for 2014

I’ve decided that I have been pretty slack in my tracking of goals, tasks and well.. overall efficiency.  Sometimes I feel as if I am spending too much time trying to be productive and less time ACTUALLY being productive.  (if that makes sense).  I have a bit of OCD when it comes to trying to get things done.  (in the true GTD sense).

I decided that this year I am going to focus on improving by going back to what I know has worked in the past.   For me it has been about a simple task list by project with clarity around what I want to get done for the day and week.  What I found worked in the past was using the Emergent Task Planner from David Seah.  This allows me to write down my appointments and tasks for the day, then track them.  For me, writing things down has proven to be a better mental reminder over digital only solutions.  By writing it out each day it forces me to think about it and “makes it real” for me.

I was trying to get by with only using Evernote reminders to track tasks.   I think I found myself worried about tracking things in Evernote and not actually DOING all of the things I was tracking.   Getting back to basics for me with ETP and a task list is more effective.

I bought the smaller sticky pad of ETP to use in my Moleskine notebook.  You can get them on Amazon here.  My goal is to stick to using these and make sure I track to my weekly and quarterly goals with more personal accountability.   I don’t necessarily think I have NOT been doing everything I want for work and personal goals.. but I do think I have had less accountability for them personally.   This is going to be my attempt to fix this.

I am going to try to post more often as well, and this should include updates on how things are going. Stay tuned for more..

 

My Backup Process

My Backup Process

I am very particular about the backups of files that I have.   The main reason for this is my fear of losing digital photos, but in general, this is how I approach it.  (and to be clear, I am forever refining)

Goal for my backups:  at least 3 copies of all files I deem critical, one of those copies must be offsite.  (meaning out of my house)

The original is my original files/folders on my computer.

First Backup (local)
My first line of defense took a while to get to.  I was forever copying files to USB drives and trying to keep those in sync.  It was a little bit of a pain, but it worked.  Finally I wanted to have a nice local network place to backup my original files.   I settled on Drobo.  A DroboFS to be specific.  The great thing about the Drobo units is you can add, or hot-swap hard drives as you use them. Drobo makes RAID simple for duplicating your data across multiple drives and you don’t have to sweat over it. Very good systems. Not the cheapest.. but well worth it.
I setup drobo to monitor and sync certain folders (like my photos folder).  I think I eventually landed on manually copying new files to Drobo just to feel like it’s a little more precise.  Not sure why but sometimes it felt like I wanted that extra assurance.

Second Back (offsite)
For years I tried the likes of Carbonite, Back Blaze, etc.   While they worked, they were not quite what I was looking for.  I wanted not only backup, but some cloud storage.  This is where Bitcasa comes in.

Think of Bitcasa as an online USB drive that is infinite in size. No more worrying about how much you put there. The other cool thing it does is allows for mirroring of folders on your computer to the cloud.  This is the backup piece of Bitcasa.   I mirror my music, pictures, documents, movies, etc.   They are accessible on any other machine I use with Bitcasa and no worrying about an offsite backup now .
evernote-logo

 

 

Evernote is a daily use product for me.  I’ve been using it since it’s very old days.. prior to it’s current incarnation, but I LOVE it’s new (new in 2007?) direction.  The idea is that you place anything and everything into Evernote and don’t worry about remembering it.  Evernote will make it available on all of your devices.

Recommendation:  Must have notes/memory app

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SITE: http://www.drobo.com

I use the Drobo FS for in-home redundant backup.  The great thing about the Drobo units is you can add, or hot-swap hard drives as you use them.  Drobo makes RAID simple for duplicating your data across multiple drives and you don’t have to sweat over it.  Very good systems.  Not the cheapest.. but well worth it.

Personal Productivity Saga Continues…

I’ve been on a quest for myself to be as efficient as I can at all times of the day.   I personally get frustrated when tasks take longer than I’d hope, I hate being late for things and I am forever trying to stay on top of professional and personal tasks, appointments and projects.  For those who know me, you know I have a horrible stand alone memory. I am always trying to be better at this.

Daily Planning

For a long time I have tried to be efficient on my daily tasks.  Stay on top of what is important and don’t lose site of the goals.  What i’ve found is that I am apparently impatient enough to not really live the full GTD lifestyle, and I clearly can’t seem to manage a real task list with great efficiency.  What I’d done for a long time (and lost the habit) was to sit and plan every day with key tasks.  I later found almost an identical solution done by David Seah called the Emergent Task Planner.  This is basically the same thing that I’d do in my Moleskine notebook every morning.  I remember things better if I write them down, so each morning I’d get my left hand page of my Moleskine and write out my days calendar, very similar to what you see in the ETP page here…  (not mine but a sample I found)