For those Evernote fans out there - whether or not you're inclined to use Evernote as a task-management app - this 5-part series will make a great case for it. Over the next 5 weeks, I'll be giving 5 drastically different ways to set up the Kanban Calendar system in Evernote. If you're not already familiar with the system, please take a look at this "preamble", and also how I have implemented it in other apps. In this series I'm going to focus on the unique setup and features that Evernote brings to the table.
The many faces of Doctor Who... and Evernote
Doctor Who is a BBC science-fiction TV Series, airing from 1963 right up until the present day. In the show, the Doctor (a humanoid alienTime Lord), explores the universe in his TARDIS, a time-travelling space ship. On the outside, it looks like a blue British police box.
Since 1963, 12 actors have taken on the role of the Doctor. Unlike in the James Bond series, the transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the show, with the Doctor periodically regenerating his appearance into a new body (a life process of Time Lords).
As such, over the next 5 weeks, I'm going to give you 5 drastically different incarnations of the selfsame Kanban Calendar system in Evernote, each with their own strengths, flavor, visual appeal and practicality.
"The interior of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior, which can blend in with its surroundings using the ship's "chameleon circuit". In the series, the Doctor pilots an obsolete Type 40 TARDIS. Its chameleon circuit is broken, leaving it [the exterior] stuck in the shape of a 1960s-style London police box after its visit there in 1963." - Wikipedia
Of course, the interior of a note (note body) is vastly bigger than the exterior (note title). We're going to leverage Evernote's ability to house tailor-made expandable tables and lists. In this first post, I'll be showcasing Evernote's ability to house the 3 component sections of the Kanban Calendar system in individual notes - an entire section in one note. Actually, the whole bang shoot could be housed in one note - but I'd like to take advantage of some cool features Evernote has...
Let's get to it, shall we?
First of all, here is a public Evernote notebook you are welcome to join, containing the example templates you see below, plus cleaner customizable ones (See point 1 under "Time-Travel Tips" below for details). Let's take a look under the hood of our TARDIS - at the features of Evernote's intra-note and inter-note-based task-management setup.
"A iPhone's an iPhone, no matter how small"
(Soundtrack: Doctor Who Official Theme Song)
!! Be sure to turn down/ off your audio for this video if you're in public. If you're somewhere private or have earphones... and you're a Doctor Who fan - Enjoy!
In this first video clip, I take you through these 3 main sections:
- The "Projects/ Backlogged" section, where all simple projects in fairly simple list/ bullet form are housed, as well as any categories.
- The "Today" Section, which has an Eisenhower Matrix, as well as the typical Kanban "Doing" and "Done" stages, plus a holding container for "Tomorrow's Tasks".
- The "Calendar" section, housing all up-and-coming date-specific tasks.
- You will notice in the video clip that I navigate from one section/ note to another via the note links positioned at the header and footer of each note - which is particularly useful on mobile devices, since you won't then need to close one note to get to another.
One link forward... one step back
(Soundtrack: Doctor Who, Series 4 - "A Dazzling End")
One of the biggest Evernote features you get to leverage, is that of using note links to connect your to-do lists with any project/ reference material. In the following video clip (in Evernote's iPad client), after following a note link, I hit the back arrow to take me back to point A. Here are 4 things I link to in the video:
- A complex project with its own Kanban workflow (My blog setup).
- A "Don't break the chain!" calendar, using Evernote's annotation tools.
- An eBook in PDF format, where I can see a summary of annotations made in Evernote.
- Documents/ images taken with the Evernote document camera on mobile devices.
- You could also link to emails you've mailed in to Evernote, bills to pay that you've scanned in, web clippings that pertain to a project, hand-written lists that Evernote can index and make searchable with its OCR technology... etc.
The future - one day at a time
(Soundtrack: Doctor Who, Series 6 - "The Majestic Tale")
- Once every 24 hours... tomorrow becomes today. So... we grab the tasks from the very next day in our Calendar section and bring them into our Today section. From there, they get distributed among whatever priority stages you've mapped out. I like the Eisenhower Matrix. Once you've done that, you can go ahead and delete that day in the Calendar section.
- In this video clip, I double-click on a note in the list to expand it into it's own adjustable window (Windows desktop). You could open up one of these windows for each section if you like. Here I just navigate via my note links in the header.
- If you're a premium user, you get "Note History", which allows you to retrieve the same note at any previous date... thus, no archiving of completed tasks necessary! Pretty nifty!
What you want to do in order to have your own editable copy of the notes in the public notebook I shared with you is: (i) Follow the link provided (public Evernote notebook) and join the notebook. (ii) Go to your Evernote account on desktop and sync. (iii) Create and name your own notebook. (iv) Go back to the joined notebook and select all of the notes in that notebook (Ctrl + A on Windows). (v) Right click on your selection and select "Copy to Notebook..." ("Move to Notebook..." will not work) and select the notebook you just created. (vi) You can then go ahead and delete the joined notebook, which will remove all of the original notes.
- The tables you see in the video clips were created in a Word document and then copy-pasted into Evernote. Good news... if you like the templates I've shared, you won't need to jump through hoops to figure out the nitty-gritty: Once again... here's that Evernote public notebook (with the templates) that you can "download" (join).
- I spent many hours getting the formatting right and tinkering with the aesthetics to be uniform and look good across multiple platforms. The tables have white borders, which appear invisible in Evernote. I also made it so that the left and right borders are fixed. Only the bottom borders expand as you add to your lists.
- In the Calendar section, I have created a gradient effect with the filler colors. The date headers get darker each week, so one gets a visual feel for how close you're getting to the end of the month.
- When you first set your system up, I recommend duplicating the Month Template, and thereafter copy-pasting the contents of the original into your working Calendar section whenever you need a new set of 28-31 days. You shouldn't need more than 2 months at any given time.
- I have included thumbnail images, out of the way, at the foot of each note. They are great visual cues, especially in snippet view.
- I suggest adding your Kanban Calendar Notebook to the shortcut list for quick access, no matter where you are in Evernote.
- I don't personally use a task "inbox". If you'd like one, you could create your inbox in a new note... or you could keep new incoming tasks in an inbox section in your project section/ note.