Getting Things Done (GTD) using Evernote


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As GIS has matured, more people now understand your value, and so you are continually being asked to do more. Your job has grown to the point where it’s almost overwhelming: Requests for your services are piling up, and you’re also trying to stay on track with the big projects too. And like most GIS professionals, you have to remember a dizzying array of technical functions, work flows, contacts, software codes, program code, and so on. Even if you have a great knack to keep all of this information stored up in your head, the “information overload” can lead to stress. So you keep notes. But whether you use paper notes or computer notes, there are some serious limitations to your notekeeping system (scattered notes, hard- to-retrieve notes, notes that are not easily updated, etc). There’s got to be a better way!

This presentation will summarize key principles of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (aka “GTD”) methods. GTD is advertised as “the art of stress-free productivity” and Jeff will explain why he thinks this is an accurate description. Although GTD works well within many different note systems (even paper), Jeff will demonstrate this system within his tool of choice: free software called “Evernote”. Jeff will show how he has incorporated GTD and Evernote into his life as a GIS professional (and in his life in general). He will show how the GTD process is used to most effectively collect, organize, prioritize, keep reference materials, document your work, and more with the GTD methods and the Evernote tool. Jeff will demonstrate how to easily search and retrieve your notes based on key words (Evernote will even recognize words within pictures of such as screen shots, white boards, document scans, etc). Jeff will show how he uses tags and other features within this system to sort information by date or even by location of where you took them (Evernote will automatically place a lat-lon on your notes so you can view where you took the note on a map).

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Getting Things Done (GTD) using Evernote

  1. 1. “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” Getting Things Done (GTD) in your job and your life in general 2011 WLIA Annual Conference Madison, WI Presented by Jeff DuMez Brown County GIS Coordinator/Land Information Officer
  2. 2. Presentation Overview•What is Getting Things Done (GTD) and why is it so popular?•It is about a systematic approach to your work•Its not as much about “gear” (planners, etc) •GTD is so popular partly because it is “gear-agnostic”; you can use any gear you want (paper, Excel, Outlook, etc) •My preferred gear:
  3. 3. Why GTD?
  4. 4. Why use the GTD system?•Were expected to “Do More With Less” •Our services are in growing demand •Expectations are high: GIS is supposed to create efficiencies for your organization•Were a slave to the “Latest & Loudest” •despite efforts to be strategic, “Emergency Mode” is too often the way we end up working •email, mobile phones exacerbate the problem• Were burned out trying to use psyche as a “system” • Instead, use a system to free up the psyche.
  5. 5. A better system is needed•In todays world, yesterdays methods just dont work•Information (data) comes at you from many directions •Constant emails, mobile phones, cubicle environments, etc invite too much distraction. •GTD helps capture, filter, manage, and act on what is relevant to YOU•“Knowledge Work” has no clear boundaries •In the old days, work was more self-evident: Plowed fields, cranked widgets, etc •Today, for many of us, the “edges” to our work are less clear. •Whatever youre doing at any given moment, youd like to be more confident and relaxed that what youre doing at the moment is what you ought to be doing.
  6. 6. Psychology behind GTD principles •If it’s on your mind, your mind is not clear •Unleash more potential with clear minds and organized thoughts. •If your mind is your “system”, there’s a part of your psyche that thinks you should be doing it all the time. •Everyone knows it helps to write things down, but many people don’t •Almost everyone has made lists and felt at least a little bit better. Why? •Even if you do write it down: •If you don’t process and store your notes properly (like in a GTD system), the written clutter can make things worse.
  7. 7. Whats different about GTD?•Proven ways to help channel energy strategically and tacticallywithout letting anything fall through the cracks •Transforms the way you work and live, shows how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.•How GTD has helped me and thousands of others •Stop looking only at "what wont blow up if I dont deal with it". – The “latest and loudest” things tend to take care of themselves, but there is a need to keep moving other important projects forward also •Start being more strategic and more relaxed while dealing with stuff coming at you in your job and life from many directions
  8. 8. What is GTD?
  9. 9. GTD techniques•GTD techniques are practical and based on common sense •One reason for the popularity •Another reason for GTDs popularity is that you can use any tool or any kind of gear you want.•Many people buy a planner & calendar and think, “There!”Ill be organized now” •However, techniques on how to use things like planners is sorely lacking, so the tool is almost worthless. •It’s like buying GIS software (the tool) but unless you are putting things into it and using it properly, there’s really no point in buying the tool.
  10. 10. Trusted & Complete System•Calendars are an example of a “trusted system”.... •Nobody wakes up and thinks, “oh oh, where do I have to be today or a week from Thursday at 2 PM?” •They have the appointments off of their mind •But calendars are not a complete system•GTD process takes the “get it out of your head” principle to anotherlevel•GTD helps you capure ALL things that need to get done—now, later,someday, big, little or inbetween •Calendars and “To-Do” lists are only a part of this •GTD completes your logical system and gets everything off your mind so you can focus better and be less stressed
  11. 11. How is GTD better than calendars & To Do lists?•GTD is different because: •It lets you handle more volume (even the “small stuff”) •It lets you handle different levels of focus (each is “current reality”) •It takes context into account (work, home, •It takes time & energy into account ••GTD helps you be in the “ready state” • Git a grip on it all • Stay relaxed • Get meaningful things done with minimal effort across the whole spectrum of life & work.
  12. 12. GTD Discipline•GTD also provides the discipline to make decisions abouteverything. •Next actions based on context, time, energy •Helps us successfully spin many plates•Yet GTD is also nimble, unlike traditional “To-Do” lists •You can adjust and renegotiate any any moment •GTD is flexible, unlike the standard prioritized “to-Do” lists that must be constantly re-prioritized.• Again, anyone who has ever done a “to-do” list knows that simplywriting things down can help you feel at least a little better. •Once you figure out why this works, one of the key principles of GTD, youll never go back
  13. 13. How does GTD work?
  14. 14. How does GTD work?•The principles of GTD are simple... •But the nuances of making the practices effective can take some time to master• Basic Steps: 1. Collect 2. Process 3. Organize 4. Review 5. Do
  15. 15. Step 1: Collect•Get it ALL out of your head. Complete “Mind Sweep”. •Even the stuff like “ah, I should...” that will gnaw at you, if not conciously, subconciously •Gather the “incompletes” in your life•Collection tools • Can be anything you like just make sure its simple & easy! • Nothing wrong with paper and white boards to start with • Collect those things into your inbucket (Ill discuss how later). • Minimize # of in buckets • Why email inbox is not sufficient• There will be a feeling of relief by doing even this first step
  16. 16. Step 2: Process•Goal is to drive your collection bucket(s) to EMPTY• Is it actionable?• Is it trash?• Is it potentially useful as reference?• Might I want to do it someday?2nd stage of getting control is corralling your stuff.“Knowledge work athletics”.
  17. 17. Step 3: Organize•Projects•Someday/Maybe•Waiting For•Calendar (to do at a specific time)•Next Actions (to do as soon as possible)•Tickler File•Reference•Trash
  18. 18. Step 4: Review• “Weekly Review” •Make “Action Choices” based on: •Context – most actions require specific locations (work, home, in the car, with certain people, etc) •Time available •Energy Available •Priority (given the context, time, energy)
  19. 19. Review methods•Use any tools / processes you are comfortable with foryour review: – Brainstorming / whiteboarding – Outcome visioning – Mind Mapping – Ghant charts – Anything you like....• ...Just be sure the end results of these methods/tools (action items, etc) go into your GTD system
  20. 20. “Horizons of Focus” help with your review
  21. 21. Step 5: Just Do It!• The power of knowing “The Next Action” •Planned out, clear Next Actions. •Not vague things like “server” or “taxes” or “Jim”.•The GTD system is your control panel allowing you to just getbusy DOING •You will have your clear and concise “Next Action” items in front of you, based on context, energy, etc. •Decreases procrastination by feeding you manageable, completeable bite-sized actions to move larger projects forward.•The system allows you to more easily absorb interruptions andnew input while still staying in focus and on track •“Mind like water”
  22. 22. Is GTD too much organizing and not enough DOING?•Abraham Lincoln: "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree Id spendsix sharpening my axe"•Generals, NFL players, and many others who know the power of a clearmind to help them just DO in the heat of action have praised GTDbecause they know productivity is directly proportional to our abilityto relax.•With GTD system, you can sit back and be “Captain & Commander” .•Even while “down in the weeds” new input is easily absorbed, ,processed.•This for me has been a huge stress reliever. Im still only 1 person but Ifeel as if Im giving it my best. I have a better grip on my commitmentsand feel more in control.
  23. 23. My GTD system
  24. 24. My chosen GTD tool: Evernote•“Evernote” benefits •Easy to use •Free (for most features) •Works on ANY device or operating system •Desktop: •Windows, Mac, any web browser •Mobile: •Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile, etc •Any cell phone •Text message in •Call into voice transcription services like Jott (converts to text, includes the original voice msg)
  25. 25. More Evernote benefits•Synchronizes between machines (regardless of OS)•Theres a local copy of your notes (for off-network)•Use tags for time, energy, anything•Virtually unlimited storage•Secure – encryption•Can export out: Core value of Evernote is that this is theCUSTOMERs memories and notes, were free to take them outat any time. Not proprietory.
  26. 26. Evernote as a GTD Collection Bucket•Its a great “collection bucket” •Can input any which way, all to my central “Inbox” •Email stuff in •Quick notes •Screen Shots •Scans / photos of docs •Voice recordings •Cell phone voice input via services like “Jott”
  27. 27. Evernote as a GTD processing tool•Its easy to process stuff and organize it •Simply drag & drop items around between “notebooks” •Use Check boxes (check lists) •Automatically tags date & location •Automatically indexes your notes •Search notes and even images with text •PDF, Word docs, etc searchable in “premium” •Tags can be added too
  28. 28. Evernote as a GTD Review tool•I usually do my “Weekly reviews” at night or on weekendswhen I have the focus, quiet time and energy•Since Evernote is always synching between my work PC andmy home PC, I have everything I need to complete my review.•For me, Monday mornings often feel great because I have aclear focus of what Ill be doing because I have clear,manageable “Next Action” lists to keep things moving
  29. 29. Evernote as a GTD Reference System•Easily retrieve anything, anywhere – Most people use Evernote simply for this• Set up your “Tickler” file system – System to refresh your memory or “mail it to your future self” without cluttering your calendar. – I use tags in Evernote like “Every Month”, “Mondays”, “September”, etc.• Set up your project plans – Nothing beats a Check List! – Easily move action items from your comprehensive plans to your context-based action lists
  30. 30. My System (demo)
  31. 31. Projects
  32. 32. Handling projects•Most people like to have an “all-in-one” project plan,Ghant chart, etc. Thats fine but you need to pull out “NextActions” and organize by context. •Large plans break down when youre busy DOING •For example: Tou wont go through a large project plan to find "buy nails" or "call Fred". Too unweildy. •Instead pull ou next actions and put in context lists. Like, “Errands”.•Youre probably “spinning a lot of plates” (lots of projectsgoing on) as a GIS person •Collaboration, waiting on others •Fairly complex projects with sequential actions
  33. 33. GTD too complicated?• GTD might itself seem overwhelming but need not be thatcomplex. •The beauty of GTD is that you can take the few basic principles and make them into whatever you want. Nobodys GTD system is exactly the same.•“Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler”~Albert Einstein•In a complex occupation like ours, GTD is key to success
  34. 34. Staying on track● Once you get on this, its relief. Get rid of phychic scuzz. Quiteliterally the same reason you brush your teeth.● Its common sense, people already know this stuff (writingthings down), but this GTD gives them a more workable way tohandle it.● Even if you catch on to the principles of GTD, it takes sometime to dive deep into making it work.
  35. 35. Questions?Handouts are available