Evernote

    📝 I have more thoughts on the latest Evernote update.

    A couple of days ago, I shared my initial thoughts on the new features in version 10.85.4, but there’s more to show you.

    Let’s start with the first topic I talked about in video, the calendar. I was so focused on demonstrating the creation of events not connected to Outlook or Google that I missed a subtle new aspect of the Evernote Calendar.

    In a recent conversation with Federico Simionato, I told him that I believed everything with dates on Evernote should be in the calendar. Have you watched that video? Do you recall him telling me he was already discussing that with the team? I think the new calendar may be setting the stage for that.

    If you go to the Evernote Calendar and take a close look at the My Calendars section, you’ll see that there is a sub-menu under Evernote Calendar (image below). For now, the only item there is Events, but because My Calendars is in the plural, I think we’ll soon see other items there. Maybe Tasks? You never know.

    Another addition related to the calendar is the Events item in the three-dots menu next to New Task (image below). It’s great to see that menu getting attention. Let’s hope they keep making it more useful. For example, one other option I would like them to add in the future is the creation of a new note from one of our templates.

    Finally, there’s the new full-page Tasks. I haven’t covered this in the video because I’ll be using it for the next few days before sharing my thoughts. But there’s one new detail I’m pleased to see there.

    You are already aware of my stance regarding Tasks as an integral part of the fundamental building blocks of Evernote, namely notes and notebooks. So, I believe it is evident that I am delighted to see the addition of the Notebooks filter.

    What about are you? Anything in particular you liked or that you are still missing? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this update.


    ✅ It looks like Bending Spoons goal is to check all the boxes on the long wishlist #Evernote users have created over the years. We’ll soon be able to pin one or more notes.: youtu.be/LunytWKXB…


    Two Web Clipper solutions I use to send information to Obsidian.

    Collecting information is an important part of my learning process, but Obsidian doesn’t have something as powerful as the Evernote Web Clipper.

    To find a solution, I tried different ideas until I came up with one that works well for me. I use two different tools, and I hope that they will inspire you to create your own system.

    There are two types of clippings I do.

    Sometimes, I need to preserve the page format, and even Evernote’s Web Clipper is not always good at that. This is the reason why I began using the print to PDF function and then dragging the PDF into a note in Evernote. You can see how I do it by watching the video below.

    For this specific type of clipping, I am doing the same on Obsidian. But, since there’s nothing there similar to the ‘forward email to Evernote’ feature, I’m also ‘printing to PDF’ the emails I what to keep. However, like I explained in a recent video, I’m not creating notes for PDFs anymore. I’m simply saving them as files in the related folders.

    The other type of clipping I do is text. Most of the time, all I need is the information, the text, and Evernote’s Web Clipper was always excellent at that. As for Obsidian, here’s where Steph Ango amazing solution was super helpful.

    Like other Obsidian features and plugins, there are many options and a different one may be more suitable for your needs. In my case, I am enjoying the Web Clipper created by the CEO. A post on his blog even provides instructions for customizing it, which I did. How cool is that?

    His post has everything you need to understand how to install, use and customize the Web Clipper. And in my video below, I share my reasoning for doing what I do and how I customized his solution to better work with the Proprieties I use in my Obsidian notes.


    The best productivity and organization books in my library (not what you think)

    People often ask me for book recommendations on topics such as productivity and organization, but I can never think of anything to suggest. Instead, I tell them that the books that help me are usually not the traditional ones explaining methods or techniques.

    We are all unique and have different needs. Furthermore, we are exposed to such diverse environments. How is it possible that a single method will be effective for everyone? Some authors even claim that, although their method is excellent if fully implemented, you are free to use the parts and processes that best fit you. How convenient is that?

    Containers

    The way I organize my information is through what I call containers. I have notebooks in Evernote or folders in Obsidian that let me quickly switch from one project or reference material to another whenever I need to or want to do so. And by the way, there’s no archive in my system. Everything is always exposed because that’s where creativity feeds from.

    For example, if I’m working on something and have an insight for another project, all I have to do is open the other notebook or folder, take some notes, and then go back to what I was doing before. The cmd + j (Mac) or Ctrl + q (Win) commands on Evernote make it a breeze. Unfortunately, I am still looking for something as efficient on Obsidian.

    But if what comes to my mind is entirely new, I will create a new container and decide what to do with it in the future.

    I have a video on my organization system coming soon. For now, I suggest you watch the one below to give you an idea of when a new container is created and how it evolves.

    When I have reached my limits working on a topic and need a moment or two to relax, switching to another personal or work-related project is what helps me. 

    I can leave and work on another container because I have all the information and progress in each one. So, when I arrive at the subsequent container or revisit a previous one in the future, everything will be there exactly as I left it.

    The Best Books

    Let’s get back to the books. The best ones usually have nothing to do with productivity or organization. The more I read about different topics, the more it seems like every book has something that can help me become more efficient. Sometimes, it’s a single sentence, other times a paragraph or two from a 600-page book.

    I’m currently reading the biography of Louis Mountbatten, and I came across two strategies that I’ve been using for a while and that I’ve seen mentioned repeatedly in the oddest books and articles.

    My System

    I learned very early on that I had to take notes to make sure I didn’t forget something. It took me a long time to figure out a system, but when I stopped looking for external solutions and focused on my needs, it all came together.

    Creating my own version of a basic CRM with notes about everyone I met was the first thing I did. This happened before Evernote, so I used the description section of each contact on my Palm Pilot to take my notes about the person and each meeting. It was both simple and extremely helpful. People were always amazed at my memory. And every time I told them about my secret, they were even more impressed.

    I have never stopped doing it, and the system evolved when I moved to Evernote and then to Obsidian. But what if I told you this idea is as old as time? Take a look at the passage below. Mountbatten was doing the exact same thing in the 1930s.

    Do you remember my containers with information? Those were also born on my Palm Pilot, but they were in the Memo Pad app. The topics were organized so that I could easily add or find information.

    However, it was only when I started using Evernote that I was able to create containers that would allow me to switch from one project or topic to another when I needed to escape exhaustion. Once again, I will soon release a video detailing my approach to managing all the information I keep in these containers. For now, let’s take a look at the other strategy used by Mountbatten.

    When he needed to relax, he would turn his attention to another project. Isn’t that cool?

    Now, who is Mountbatten, you ask? A last-century specialist in organization and productivity? Far from it, but I’ll let you do your investigation on that.


    Is Evernote becoming an everything app?

    There are many changes coming to Evernote. I don’t see any problem with the app becoming more feature-rich, but I do have concerns about how it is done.

    Two recent tweets from Federico Simionato, the product lead at Evernote, have led me to believe that the app is on track to become something different. There is currently a space for files being built, and many new features for Tasks are being discussed. Additionally, he told me in a recent conversation that he sees potential for Evernote to become a personal hub.

    I don’t see any problem with the app becoming more feature-rich, but I do have concerns about how it is done. Evernote has a very intuitive structure. Notes, inside notebooks and tags to filter notes in a notebook or across many notebooks. That’s how simple it is to understand and use.

    Thus far, each new feature that has been incorporated is layered upon this framework. Here’s an example: tasks and calendar entries are always connected to notes. And thankfully, it doesn’t look like the proposed Files feature is trying to compete with Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. It seems to be just another way to interact with the files we already have in our notes.

    Out of Place

    But based on the recent image shared on Twitter, it seems like the ‘new Tasks’ will not be aligned with Evernote’s framework anymore. It feels to me that it doesn’t belong there, as if an existing task management app has been implanted in Evernote. If this is the case, it may create some problems.

    Some of the new ideas, such as ‘Projects,’ may introduce a new layer of classification and categorization of information, which may break the simple structure that makes the app so intuitive.

    The Spaces feature on Evernote Teams is a great example of what I’m trying to convey. Just like a Stack, a Space is a group of notebooks. So when should one use one or another? To further complicate the understanding of how things work there, a note can be created outside a notebook in Evernote Teams. If you are an Evernote user, please tell me if this doesn’t feel like a crime.

    To be honest, Stacks and Spaces exist for different purposes and are intended for different uses. But they look the same. So much so that it takes me some time to help my clients understand and assimilate the differences between a Stack and a Space.

    There’s no other way to say it: Evernote Teams is not intuitive at all. If you have never used it, I suggest you watch the video below to see how confusing things can get.

    Another Tasks App

    Evernote was never a task management app. Tasks were elegantly incorporated, respecting the note-notebook system, and that’s what makes Evernote Tasks unique.

    To be clear, I’m not questioning the need for or use of “Projects” or any other possible new feature like “Priority”. However, adding them has the potential to create distraction, since Evernote will have to compete with well-established task apps. Think about it: how many new features or variations of a feature are enough? How many colors of Flags do you need? How many types of Priorities? What about “Subprojects” or other ideas people have in the future?

    Users will never be fully satisfied because there are too many ways to do things. They’ll start to compare Evernote Tasks to dedicated apps like Things, Todoist, etc. In other words, this will constantly create pressure on the development team to catch up.

    Evernote is already lacking basic options and settings for features like Templates, Calendar, and even the editor. The situation is the same when we look at other apps that try to do everything. It’s like the old saying: try to do everything, and you won’t be good at anything.

    I believe that using the simple, yet powerful framework of the app would allow people to create whatever innovative tasks system they come up with without having to wait for Bending Spoons to release the desired features.

    Notebooks names could be used as a filter for grouping tasks inside a notebook, instead of introducing the new “Projects” layer. And if tags could be added to tasks, it would mean another filter option allowing each person to create their own priorities, flags, and anything else they want. This would make Evernote Tasks a space for users to create their own systems instead of complaining about Bending Spoons not working on new features.

    Unfortunately, I believe the short-term easy option will prevail. They’ll just give the users another Tasks app like so many out there and hope for the best. Which seems to me like opening a can of worms. I can even imagine it leading to a dedicated task app. After all, there’s no way to compete on equal terms if your tasks are inside a notes app. It takes far too many steps to create a task.

    Can you see how this can lead to an uncontrollable situation?

    Loosing Focus

    The current simplicity of Evernote results in limitations that serve as boundaries, and as a result, numerous non-tech-savvy individuals can efficiently organize their lives. People frequently tell me Evernote’s simple framework helps them with focus. This is not a small group of people, but they are silent on social media. So, I am trying to be as loud as possible for them.

    However, I’m just one voice, and we may be already witnessing the birth of an entirely new experience with many new features and layers upon layers of configurations and categorizations. An Evernote that unfortunately has the potential to make many people’s lives much harder.


    Warning! There's a swell of YouTube Shorts coming your way.

    I’m currently putting together a script for a long video explaining how I manage information, with examples of how it works on Evernote and Obsidian, but it’s taking me longer than I anticipated. In the meantime, I thought it might be useful to share some quick tips and tricks I employ to streamline my workflow. And YouTube Shorts happens to be a good format for that.


    Evernote will have a Files folder! Wow!

    Yesterday, Federico Simionato, the product lead at Evernote, posted a tweet that completely blew my mind. It was an image showing a new Files section in Evernote’s sidebar. This is so huge, that even though I have not seen it working yet, I had to share my opinion with you.


    What was the Local Notes feature on Evernote?

    Before the release of Evernote 10, it was possible to set a group of notes to remain unsynchronized with the Evernote servers. The Local Notes as they were known, were kept and could only be accessed on the computer where they were created.

    At minute 11 of the video below, Federico mentions that Evernote will not bring back the Local Notes feature. I had to explain this because I have a sense that people may think he’s talking about offline notes.

    As for offline notes, as long as you have the Evernote app installed on your computer, all of your notes are accessible, even if you do not have Internet access.


    Stay tuned. I just had a great conversation with Federico about #Evernote's new phase.

    Did you notice that Federico Simionato, product lead at Evernote, has been tweeting non-stop about new features in development and some ideas for the future? I had to find out what was happening, so I invited him for a conversation. He talked about this new phase, where the inspiration for the new features is coming from, and much more.

    I have already looked through the footage, and everything looks great. Stay tuned. The video is coming up in a few days.


    Google Tasks is just too convenient not to use

    I had already moved my Evernote tasks to Obsidian with the help of the Tasks plugin, but I found out that Google Tasks was a better fit for my needs.

    Even though I don’t like tasks, if you check out my videos about Evernote Tasks, you’ll see that I had a system in place for birthdays, bills, and other paperwork for my company. For everything else, I always use Kanban boards.

    Similar to many other journeys I shared with you in the past, this one is also about experimenting and finding the best option for my specific needs. As I always say, it’s more important to create a good system that works for you than to try to find a magical app.

    Did you know?

    Although the Android and iOS apps were available from the very beginning, it used to be that the task drawer (1) was the only way to interact with your to-dos in a browser. That changed a while ago. You can also use Tasks as standalone application by clicking the icon at the top of the screen (2) or visiting tasks.google.com.

    All the features are identical, but the dedicated page is more visual. You can reorder lists or move tasks to different positions in a list or to different lists. It behaves more like a Kanban board, but that’s not the reason I switched to Google Tasks.

    Another important piece of information to keep in mind is that it doesn’t matter how many lists you create or delete; the first one provided by Google will always be the default list. You can rename or reorder it, but there’s no way to delete the default list. More on that latter.

    Why have I switched?

    There are many reasons. Let’s start with the fact that I have Google Assistant devices all over my home and office, and that makes it super easy for me to create tasks hands-free. There is a caveat, though. All tasks created this way will be saved in the default list. And because of this detail, I had to make a small modification to my system. We’ll get there.

    Another convenient feature is seeing my tasks on the Hub Max. It recognizes my face when I look at it and shows my upcoming calendar entries and tasks. And that’s not all. I can even use the touchscreen to see more tasks and mark them as completed.

    Then there is my Android phone, where I can also interact with the assistant using voice commands, even when I’m jogging. And, of course, I can use the widget to see what tasks are coming up.

    These features are too convenient to ignore.

    My system

    I only have two lists. The first one is called Activities and it’s all about recurring dates. To understand it, I invite you to watch the video below, even if you are not an Evernote user. That’s the exact system that I have transferred to Obsidian and am currently using on Google Tasks. Including the emojis 😉.

    Regarding the other list, it is the default list, even though it is ordered as the second one in my system. Everything I need to buy, from groceries to items for woodworking and other similar projects, goes on that list. It must be the default list because, more often than not, I ask Google Assistant to add items there.

    I don’t know why, but at the time of writing this article, there’s no way to make another list the default one. I have learned this the hard way, but you don’t need to. Plan ahead and figure out what kind of tasks you’ll be asking the Assistant to add more often. That should help you with your default list.

    Activities is the list I want to always keep an eye on, and that’s why it’s the first one. Every time I open the calendar, I see it. As for the other one, I only need it when I’m shopping and can easily open Google Tasks on my phone to check the items.

    But what if I told you that I never open the Tasks app on my phone? Each list has its own widget, which allows me to view the tasks, mark them as completed, and even create new ones. Again, Google Tasks is too convenient to ignore.

    One thing I’m always trying to do is remove potential complications from my systems. In the past, I tried splitting shopping items into a grocery list and a projects list, but that only added more friction to the system, as I had a third list to deal with. Since I rarely have a lot of items to buy, my human brain is capable enough to easily tell what is what on the Shopping list.

    Naturally, the number of items that have been completed on this that will increase exponentially, but that’s okay because they go to a collapsed space when marked as completed. However, if you really want a spotless list, the ‘Delete all completed tasks’ option will delete only the completed items on that list. So I can easily clean up my Shopping list without messing with my Activities list.

    That’s it. As I said before, I manage everything else using Kanban boards because they give me a much better view of the status of each project. But that’s a story for another day.


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