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Productivity hacks weekly in bite-size chunks. Just up your alley if you're at least slightly geeky or a tad bit obsessed with Evernote or WorkFlowy!

Kanban Calendar: Evernote Series - 3 of 5

Frank Degenaar

This post is the third in a 5-part series, featuring Evernote as a Kanban Calendar setup.

Preamble Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A digital canvas for your imagination

In this digital day and age, many people still prefer analog task-management systems (i.e., pen and paper) to get tasks out of their heads. To name but a few possibilities: Moleskine planners (with Evernote integration), the bullet journal setup... and a very stimulating view on pencil and paper in Nick Cernis' book, "The Todoodlist" I read earlier this year. A blank canvas has its appeal. You get to give form to your ideas - whether it's an art form or free-form task scribbling. We now have more options than ever to integrate the freedom that a blank canvas gives us, with the digital advantages of undo/ redo, zoom and tools/ effects that make the artistically or even technically challenged feel like pros. 

Retro-futurism at its best

Let me introduce you to the otherworldly artwork of Simon Stålenhag, who uses a Wacom tablet to digitally paint his breathtaking retro-futuristic works of art - a blend of the old-fashioned (Volkswagen Kombis) with futuristic technology, reminiscent of Lost's Dharma Project - but not as tropical. He fabricates nostalgic flashbacks of an alternative reality in the late '80s, where kids explore an impressive display of rusting Mechatronics scattered across the landscapes of rural Sweden: robots,  androids, remnants of anti-gravity craft and abandoned scientific facilities - where we even get to witness the resurgence of dinosaurs. Please visit his site, where you will get the full treatment as you browse through a gallery of finely detailed images. Below you will see a few examples of Simon's work...  

All images are copyrighted and used with kind permission of Simon Stålenhag:

Evernote's Skitch - a canvas for your tasks

What you will notice about this post, is that the notebook setup for our Kanban Calendar is fairly similar to that of the 1st post (Intra-note based task-management), with the exception that we will be using an Evernote tool called Skitch. Skitch exists both as a standalone app, as well as being integrated into the Evernote clients themselves. Here is what makes this setup distinctive:

  • This is the only way to drag and drop elements/ tasks within a note (image) in Evernote. 
  • We can use the Skitch annotation tools to draw, annotate and create a layout exactly as we imagine it.
    • We can also resize, highlight and change the color of a task.
  • We are able to use just about any background image to annotate over. Even if you're only fractionally geeky, this opens up all kinds of possibilities... look out for my Darth Vader background!
  • We have access to a gallery of images within a note in presentation mode, transforming a vertically scrolling note into a horizontal gallery we can swipe through - akin to a typical Kanban layout (What is shown in the 1st video below is not presentation mode).
  • If you're into mind mapping, a big blank image is your playground. Plus you can also zoom in and out of your canvas.

Guess the soundtrack...

Watch the following video and take a peek into the world of "Image-basedtask management, with Evernote's annotation tools. Anyone care to guess where the accompanying soundtrack is from?

A quick tour of the 3 Kanban Calendar sections (iPad client): 

  1. The "Projects/ Backlogged" section, where projects and categories of tasks are collected.
  2. The "Today" Section, which has an Eisenhower Matrix. No "Doing" and "Done" stages this time 'round, since we can highlight the tasks we are currently working on and check them off with a sticker. In the 2nd half of the video, you'll also see a collection of Eisenhower Matrix templates - using Simon Stålenhag's artwork... as well as a few other miscellaneous galactic images.
  3. The "Calendar" section, with all up-and-coming date-specific tasks. Notice how when you tap on an image in mobile apps, you can flip through a gallery of all other images contained in that note.


Isn't it fantastically geeky (geekily fantastic?) that you get to scavenge any number of backgrounds from anywhere on the web? 

Retro-futuristic tasks

If you look at today from tomorrow's perspective... and bring tomorrow's tasks into today - would that be retro-futurism? Probably not, but I'm going with it anyways. When you so much as glance at any up-and-coming tasks, you're catching a glimpse of your future - and hoping it's going to shape up the way you imagine. The future happens one day at a time. With that, let's get to our next brief video - brief enough to play a game of Pacman. 

In the Windows desktop client, one can select all elements within an image (Ctr-A) - We harvest the tasks from the next day in our Calendar section and paste them into today's Eisenhower Matrix. 


Let's tie up some loose ends...

Here are a couple of odds and ends you might like to know about the above setup:

  • Here's a public notebook you can join and tinker with:
    • There, you will find all the notes seen in the videos, plus some fresh, clean templates.
    • 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 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. 

  • You could easily set up Kanban stages instead of an Eisenhower Matrix if you wish. It's a cinch with the Skitch annotation tools.
  • If you're a premium Evernote user, you will also have access to Note History - keep in mind that this is a great tool for taking a peek pack in time at any single note and the contents thereof - under any given date your notes were modified. This includes images
  • If you create your own template and copy multiple of the same image into a note (for the Project or Calendar sections), be aware that when you annotate one image, all images are annotated simultaneously. To avoid this, some kind of editing/ differentiating change needs to happen prior to a duplicate image being inserted into the same note.
    • On desktop you can right click on an image + "Annotate a copy of this image"... then drag and drop the edited image back into the original note. 
  • On desktop: Shift-click-click - to select and move, copy, delete or edit multiple items.
  • Whatever you do, do not rotate an image that has been annotated: the annotations become permanent fixtures/ part of the image. Other than that, you can even copy-paste the images elsewhere, including dragging to your desktop - and the annotations will still be editable thereafter.
  • Copy-pasting elements (tasks) between images with markedly different widths will make those elements appear smaller/ larger when transferred. These can, of course, be adjusted. However, if you'd like to keep things uniform across the board, aim to use images that all have roughly the same width. All of the images in the public notebook provided (seen in the video) have a width of 1000 pixels. Thus, I have no issues with format changes. You can re-size an image in Adobe Illustrator, flickr, online, etc... or you can use mine. But I have a feeling you'll all have different tastes!