Planning Notebook

I’ve long been an Evernote user, and have tried (unsuccessully) to implement David Allen’s popular “Getting Things Done” system. When I came across the “Secret Weapon” from the team at Brain Toniq, I was intrigued. They have created a system that combines email, Evernote, and their own not-so-secret process sauce to leverage the GTD system with these tools I already used… this is called the The Secret Weapon (TSW) system.

The creators even pout up a web site that covers this process in detail, and even allows for the download of the entire manifesto in PDF format. Some of the key items in their process include

  • Keeping everything in one place (something Evernote excels at).
  • Getting actionable items out of your inbox so you can achieve Inbox Zero.
  • Having everything with you wherever you go so you can capture ideas and manage your work.
  • Leveraging online tools to automate the sorting, locating, and prioritizing of tasks.

This seems to read well, but I still appreciate the usefulness of capturing “analog” notes and ideas. There are two school of thought on this: (1) use a digital source like a tablet with a stylus to capture notes and diagrams or (2) use a regular notebook and snap images of these analog notes to get them into digital format. As shown by my recent Evernote Classic Notebook post, Evernote has things covered both ways.

Organizing notes ones actions are in Evernote.

Organizing notes once actions are in Evernote.

Within Evernote, a to-do item becomes a note. Essentially you “process” your inbox but forwarding actionable email items to Evernote using the email->note capability of Evernote. You can then leverage the extensive tagging system of Evernote to organize the notes/to-dos into the proper GTD categories. From here you can prioritize and complete the actions, getting the more important ones done first. For those looking to tame the chaos, it is definitely worth a look. If you are currently using a system that is partially working, but you are not completely thrilled, there is a note about changing systems being one of the hardest things for new adopters to do…but to stick with it. I think this is true for all new systems you try; you really need to give it a full run to see if it works. Breaking the “rules” for convenience sake will degrade into chaos again pretty quick.

There are other system now specific to to-do items, like Asana, that may be adapted to this system as may have the email->note/to-do capabilities. We’ll save that for another post.

Other helpful resources: