Blog Archives

Announcement: The 1st update to my Evernote eBook is coming soon!

The Art of Getting to Done: How failure is transformed into your greatest success.

Listen to this blog post here!
There’s probably no one better to hear these words from than the man who literally had everything that he knew to be certain in life, taken away from him in a not so subtle way before a global audience.

What does this have to do with the Art of Getting to Done?  Because we are all looking to accomplish a big project. If you keep a list of your 50,000′ foot goals in life – it’s right below having a healthy family and being a good partner or spouse or parent.  We all have a goal that we’d like to get done, but we’re afraid to take the big step toward getting it done.

But sitting down and writing a mind map, or putting together a list of next actions in Evernote, is only part of the process.  We actually have to be confident enough in our skills, sincere in our convictions, and stubborn in our passion to make it a reality.  Failing is one step in the right direction toward succeeding.

How is that possible?  I’ll share a story with you. My 5 year old and I agreed it was time for her to learn how to ride her bicycle without training wheels.  This is an incredibly scary initiative for both of us.  She was afraid of even getting on the bicycle and trying because of her fear of failing.  She was afraid to fall down.  Afraid to get hurt.  Afraid she wouldn’t have balance.  And afraid or her own disappointment and her misplaced thoughts of me being disappointed in her.  I reminded her in a way that a 5-year old could understand that the only way for her to succeed is to fall down a couple of times amd know that it’s not the end of the world.  Rather, by getting back on the bicycle seat, it will only give her more confidence that she can do it … and she did.

I’m reminded of this story every time I look at my own list.  I’ll then ask myself: what is behind my fear?  What is really stopping me?  Conan O’Brien was right in that it is only through true disappointment that you can gain clarity … and with clarity there comes conviction and true originality.  At the end of his speech he said, “Work hard. Be kind. And amazing things will happen.” And he’s right.

Your Next Action: Find some time to think about what your big project is that you’d like to accomplish?  What do you really want to do?  What’s stopping you? Maybe you are already there!  If so, we would all love to hear your stories below.


Screencast: How to Integrate FollowUpThen with your Evernote & GTD setup for productivity bliss!

I’m really excited about showing off my first screencast to all of you! I’ll admit, this was a bit challenging at first! I received about 100 recommendations on different services, and some not so good. But, between PowerPoint, SnagIt, and YouTube editor – I got it done! So, your feedback will be quite helpful!

In this screencast, I highlight a very small and yet very powerful add-on to my Evernote & GTD setup I talk about in my eBook.  It’ll cover two things: first, showing off how I use Evernote’s copy note linking to really ramp up your productivity; and second, leveraging the power of to help you remind yourself on a given day and/or time about a note you have in Evernote. It’s super easy and the best part – there’s no interface to “hack”.  Take a look and let me know what you think!

The case for having multiple Evernote notebooks

There is a real use case for having multiple notebooks! Part of my future update in my eBook on how to best integrate both Evernote and the GTD methodology will be explaining the real business need for having separate notebooks for your non-actionable items, in addition to your GTD notebook.   There are three reasons why I believe there are benefits, which I will review: 1) having offline access (which requires being a Premium User); 2) Sharing with others; and 3) organization of your reference material.  This post will explain the reasons and show you how to set them up.

Offline Access

While I derive zero benefit from Evernote for making this argument, I strongly advocate becoming a premium member of Evernote – if for no other reason, you will have access to offline notebooks on your iOS device or Android device.

If you travel like I do, or at least have site visits with clients and/or colleagues,  having separate offline notebooks might just be critical to you if you do not have a WiFi or a 3G connection that will allow access to all of your notes.    Let me give you a very specific use case of why this works so well.

Three days on the road – three different cities.

Like so many of you, I travel everywhere with my iPad.  In this one case, I had to be in three different cities on three different days very recently.  That required me to make three different master itineraries – which leveraged the amazing note linking feature – and then at least 10 different agendas for my meetings (which also leveraged the amazing note linking feature to other notes in my Evernote notebook).  As I laid out in my eBook, I love having access to these Master Travel Itineraries and Master Agendas that link out to other notes that will allow me to be more successful at my meetings.  Basically, less searching and more doing, which makes me look both practical and polished when I meet with a client!  Well, without a WiFi or 3G connection, I would be unable to access my notes onsite because I just didn’t have it at that office.  Moreover, when I was at the airport, I wanted immediate access without having to search for the WiFi signal to all the information about my flight and rental cars and car services.  Having that offline access to me is critical to have immediate access to all of my notes!  Having separate notebooks for your travel days is very helpful in this case because otherwise, you’d have to make your entire Archive notebook offline – which in my case is about 4GB of data!

Sharing with Others!

If you only have one notebook, you’re unlikely going to want to share that entire Archive notebook with the masses!  Therefore, having separate notebooks designed to be shared with clients and colleagues is critical!  This is a beautiful way of having others see how a project is going, your notes on relevant news tied to a specific area (such as electronic discovery as I have set up), etc.

Organization of Your Reference Material

I have heard from many people on various best practices on what works and what may not for some people.  One of the suggestions I received was using notebook stacks as opposed to parent/child tags for some of your reference material. I like the idea and here is a very specific use case of why this works so well!

Clients and Projects

As you many know from my eBook, I keep 3 notebooks for the most part: Inbox, GTD, and Archive.  Projects are tagged with a master Project tag and then children tags: Active, Inactive & Closed. Beneath each are all of my projects.  Depending upon how many tags you have (less is better) and how savvy you are when it comes to searching tags, it might take you awhile to find those critical notes on a client and/or a project.  A possible alternative would be to create stacked notebooks for Clients and Projects.  The reason why this might be ideal is that you have immediate top level access to your clients.  In my case, I did not put each of the 150 clients I’m working with in my stacked notebook, but rather just the top 10 I am actively working with at this time.  I can simply click on the clients’ notebook, and run a tag search from there – or go right to the note I am looking for if it is nearby.  The same philosophy can be applied to projects – and if you do go this route – I can see how it would provide minimum interruption in your workflow!

How do I set them up?

One other lesson learned in writing my eBook is that you all like specifics — so, with that said, let me show you how to set up new notebooks and how to stack them!

First: create two new notebooks

Second: left click on one notebook and then drop one on top of the other. Now you have a notebook stack!

Third: Right click on the stack and select rename – and now you can call it Clients, Projects, or whatever you like!  That’s it!

What best practices and ideas do you have about using Notebook Stacks?  Let me know in the comments below!

My Evernote & GTD Presentation on & the GTD Virtual Study Group!

I had the great pleasure of being on Dave Savage’s‘s weekly coaching call to present on my Evernote & GTD system. My segment begins at 22 minutes, 27 seconds, but I encourage you to listen to the whole video as Dave has an incredible system!!

Oh, and one more thing: you can also listen to me as a guest speaker on Tara Rodden Robinson’s GTD® Virtual Study Group: Using Evernote to create a trusted system. Download the recording here.  I truly hope this enhances and adds even more value to your productivity workflow! As always, if you have any questions, please let me know!

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