About Bill Meade

Late in life convert to GTD

Evernote Clearly vs. Evernote Web Clipper … a quick comparison

Screenshot_2014_04_26__9_00_AM

Explanation:

Above is a side by side comparison of Evernote Clearly with Evernote Web Clipper. 11 features are compared: Web Clipper-only features (6 rows) at the top, Features both products have (2 rows) in the middle, and Clearly-only features (3 rows) at the bottom.

  • Article vs. Simplified Article

When you tell Clearly to remove clutter, it goes for broke and attempts to rip out everything it identifies as clutter. This will either work, or … not. Today, the biggest problem with Clearly is that when you invoke it, images that you wish to have included in your note, are ripped out. But, there are pages that Clearly can not decode.

Web Clipper has two degrees of clutter removal, the “go for broke” mode which Web Clipper calls “Simplified Article” and a lesser degree of removal called “Article” which removes top, left, and bottom clutter, but leaves some clutter on the right of the web page in your note.

  • Set Document Notebook and Document Tagging

These two capabilities are a big deal for me. More and more I’m using notebooks and tags. If I capture a web page with Clearly, I have to remember to go back to that page, and set it’s notebook and add tags. If I use Web Clipper, I can do both tasks with the page in front of me and not have extra todo steps.

  • Skitch Annotations

I should write a post about Evernote Skitch! Skitch is a screen capture and annotation tool that Evernote bought about two years ago. I’m a Skitch fan boy, and had a paid subscription to Skitch before Evernote bought the program. The long and short of Skitch annotations is that Clearly does not, and Web Clipper does, provide them.

  • Share Note While Capturing

I do not use this today. But, … I’m getting closer and closer to incorporating note sharing while I’m capturing. Why? Because there are images that I capture for other people. For example, I’m a Boxer dog fan boy. Knowing other boxer fans, I’m likely to capture funny boxer pictures and immediately send them. So, I get this, and am glad to have it, so I can incorporate it into my workflow.

  • Automatic Notebook Assignment

I LOVE LOVE LOVE automatic notebook assignment in Evernote. But … it does not always work. And, the logic of automatic assignment is different for Clearly and Web Clipper. I could once again lapse into my “I got your back” dueling software team monologue, but I won’t. I just wish that Clearly and Web Clipper used the same logic. And maybe, that I could control the logic (for example “bookporn clips always go into graphics notebook”).

  • Highlighting

Both programs do a great job of highlighting text in captured web pages. I just wish I could highlight in multiple colors like on Kindle for iPad. And, I wish that I had a “write notes in the margins” of pages without having the pages turn into jpg files.

  • Text to Speech, Print, and Set Document Theme

All three of these are capabilities I don’t use. Nice to have, but I wish I could trade them in for some other features. :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number 3 Reason GTDers Don’t Use Evernote … after installing Evernote

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TLDR: Why people set up and then don’t use Evernote

  1. The first reason is that implementing GTD changes too many things at once.
    So, Evernote, even if it is installed and working, won’t be used. Evernote is a sub-casualty of the 83% failure rate of GTD implementations.
  2. The second reason is because we blow off the GTD weekly reviews, infecting our GTD system with guilt that comes into focus (like a magnifying glass starting a fire) when we sit down to use Evernote. End result is we stop sitting down to our computers and stop using Evernote. *Note* This is also why people stop using Outlook, Omni-Focus, etc. for GTD.
  3. The third reason why GTD people don’t use Evernote after implementing it, that Evernote can be implemented in too many ways. And, … no two ways to implement Evernote agree. Too many choices to an overwhelmed brain = no choice. So, stop web surfing about Evernote, and start experimenting with your own work.

If you too have abandoned Evernote while trying to implement GTD, please share why?

Done! Good! Now go buy something to organize with on Amazon!

Introduction:

Why GTD people stop using Evernote is a surprisingly popular topic. So, I’m going to identify a couple more of the big reasons that GTD people stop using Evernote. This post is about reason 3, how the many alternative ways of implementing Evernote, stop people from using Evernote.

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Source: AStandUpLife.com

The perfect illustration of a GTD user implementing Evernote is not just a deer in headlights. The perfect illustration is a deer in a dozen of the spot lights used in police helicopters to run down fugitives.

User: “I think I’ll try using Evernote”

  • {event} Client installation on an iPad happens
    (10% of users who attempt to install quit here)

    • Wait, what? Why aren’t people installing Evernote on their PCs first? Seems that the PC is passing in influence. See RestartGTD’s Browser De Jure page for GTD viewership. GTD like it or not is becoming an iPad thing.
  • {event} Account setup happens
    (50% of potential users quit here)
  • {event does not happen} Opening Evernote for the first time on iPad
    (25% of potential users quit here)
  • {event} User opens Evernote for the first time

Even if we give Evernote 100% of the loyal users who open Evernote on their iPad for the first time, Evernote has still lost 85% of its users by the time a user opens Evernote for the first time.

Worse success rate than a David Allen GTD seminar!

Of course, I could be wrong about the percentages above. Still … Evernote is computer (desktop or laptop) first. With its new users swarming in from iPad and iPhone land, there are going to be a lot of wasteful problems (from the perspective of GTD).

For example,

  • once the person who has followed the steps above sees their Evernote account, what will they see? None of their existing information. = #EvernoteProblem
  • how can we fix this?
    • By installing Evernote Web Clipper and Clearly for a week or 10 days, so the user has some web-browsing history built up, that s/he will recognize when Evernote first opens. = #EvernoteProblem
    • By *distracting* the user to next import their paper with a scanner (scroll down to the file cabinet picture) before they open Evernote. Oh, crap, this requires Evernote to be installed on a PC with a scanner. Oops. = #EvernoteProblem
    • By scanning directly from scanner to Evernote on iPad or phone.
    • Without something drastic, can we fix this?

Hypothesis:

= #EvernoteProblem * #GTD Problem = .15 *.17 = Success Rate of Evernote & GTD

.15*.17=.03 Or, 3%

Ouch!

How can trying to implement Evernote with GTD be a good idea if it kills off an additional 14% of successful GTD users beyond what David Allen’s Company experiences?

  1. Once a GTD user puts their information into Evernote, it becomes easier to do reference filing correctly, than to not do reference filing. Reference filing is a keystone GTD skill. This helps *a lot* with people staying with GTD!
  2. Those 14% of GTD users were going to fade anyway. I *think* this because I talk to people who are “formerly known as GTD users” and they say “I use about 50% of GTD. I was really into it at first, but then it became too much to keep up with.”
    • Why? When I ask, “Do you use Evernote web clipper?” they invariably say “What is Evernote Web Clipper?”
    • Hypothesis: 14% of GTD users would be saved if they tried Evernote for their reference filing.
  3. Evernote is a platform, not a well-known, habitually used product. So what?
    • So … the marketeers at Evernote are clueless at how to help people who have a dozen police helicopter spot lights in their eyes. Platforms give markets new-to-the-world-capabilities, marketing people are trained to more efficiently sell old-to-the-world-capabilities.
    • So … in GTD terms, a new platform allows us to experiment with new degrees of freedom in organizing. The way our brains work with new platforms is trial and error. Our brains will try using the electronic tools, then pull back and compost on how the new platform *feels*. Then, confidence in a new way to use the tool appears from nowhere, and we implement the tool. And iterate improvements from there.

BIG Evernote LESSON FOR GTD USERS:

Don’t web surf to figure out how to use Evernote. Experiment with your own next actions, projects, reference filing, and inboxing. See what pleases you and run with that. When you feel *hindered* by Evernote, stop doing that. 

bill meade

Number 2 Reason GTDers Don’t Use Evernote After Installing Evernote

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Reason #2: De-Stress Inebriation

OK, you implemented GTD and emerged from the cut-over. You changed everything and somehow, you are out the other side, now you’ve entered into the GTD honeymoon.

Murder on a honeymoon … happens, surprisingly … often.

In the movies. But, also by brides, and grooms. While you are enjoying your GTD honeymoon, stress relief is fantastic: “Why did I not do this before now?” repeats endlessly.

*News* *Flash*

Honeymoons end, even if you are not murdered. And your GTD honeymoon is going to end this Friday.

Why this Friday? Because this Friday will be the first time you “forget” to do your weekly review.  On Monday you will realize: “Oh, yeah. I needed to do a weekly review last Friday.”

No Weekly Review: What is the big deal?

  1. By skipping your weekly review you break the GTD contract with your subconscious.You remember, the GTD “trusted system contract” right?
    1. “I (conscious me) agree write everything down, and take conscious control of reviewing projects and next actions. And,”
    2. “You, my subconscious agree to ‘let go’ of remembering everything, which frees up my (conscious me’s) creative capacity take credit for the subconscious doing breakthrough work.”
  2. And, more fundamentally you did not skip the weekly review because you “forgot.” You skipped your weekly review because you listened to a demon.See if you recognize the voice:”You feel so good, why spoil feeling good, with the drudgery of a weekly review.””If you do a weekly review, you know you will find something that will turn in to an emergency. Do you have the energy to deal with an emergency right now? So … don’t weekly review.”

    “You did a such a great job setting up all these projects and next actions, no need to review this week, you still remember everything.”

    Sound familiar?

Reason #2: Why people GTDers Don’t Use Evernote After Installing Evernote

De-stress inebriation. 

You’ve implemented GTD, you’ve got Evernote up and swallowing massive quantities of paper. Stress to remember everything, is gone. Stress to intuitively preempt emergencies is gone. Your subconscious for the first time, is cutting you slack about forgetting.

Your spouse says to you “Why are you so happy?” (as mine did on the first Friday after implementing GTD).

This is telling you that you are inebriated. That is, de-stress inebriation is going to kill your use of Evernote and … GTD.

De-Stress Inebriation:

If, like me, you were under a lot of stress before discovering GTD, the initial “honeymoon high” of de-stress inebriation, can trick you into taking a “vacation” from work in the guise of “being more organized.”

Wait, think!

“I implemented GTD so that I could get more done. But, the first week of GTD while I’m getting organized made me feel so good, I (somehow) decided not to do my weekly review.”

Which, leads, to me doing nothing, while I enjoy being de-stressed.

What am I avoiding?

A weekly review does three things: (1) Gets you clear on what just came in, (2) Gets you current on everything going on, and (3) Gets you creative.

Screenshot_2014_04_20__5_27_PM

Source: After p. 27 of David Allen “Mastering Workflow”

Why am I avoiding this? Because it is too hard? Was the excuse in the work, or in dread your head?

Consequences:

If you implemented GTD in Evernote, you won’t be able to sit down and do GTD.

There it is, you’ve just stopped using Evernote for the second most common reason. You got drunk on the release of stress from implementing GTD.

bill meade
bill@basicip.com

3 click image capture with Evernote Web Clipper

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Source: Booboo via BookPorn

A key use of Web Clipper is to capture images you’d like to review later. You can capture pretty much any graphic on the internet in 3 clicks. For example, during my daily BookPorn fix on April 3, 2014. I saw the above image. Having a 5,000 volume library, I have a soft spots for book pornography. I thought “That is the smartest looking G Pig I’ve ever seen. Might be useful for a blog post, I’ll grab it.”

Once you have Evernote Web clipper installed, here is how easy it is to capture a graphic in three mouse clicks:

Fullscreen_2014_04_14__9_53_AM

Once the image is inside Evernote, the note looks like this (*Note* the web link is captured along with the graphic):

Evernote_Premium

Simple really!

bill meade

What is Evernote Clearly?

Getting_Started_with_Evernote_Clearly___Evernote

Clearly it is … not all that clear … what Clearly is …

Evernote has a web page at: https://evernote.com/clearly/guide/ that shows you how Clearly works and what you can do with it.

WTGTD?

Given that Web Clipper exists … why does Clearly exist? And do I really need Clearly?

Q. Why does clearly exist?

A. I don’t know.

I *speculate* however, that there is a technology industry programming story novella behind why Clearly exists in parallel to Web Clipper. So, here we go …

In the big inning, was Web Clipper. Evernote *intuitively* understood that they needed an on ramp to Evernote databases, from the internet. So Web Clipper was developed. I *hypothesize* that Evernote whipped the slaves (in as much as Evernote can whip slaves who the company pays to have employee houses cleaned twice a month) to get Web Clipper done quickly.

This is not that big a deal except, creating Web Clipper created a team with a common bond of being whipped slaves (who have their houses cleaned twice a month for free). Programmers anywhere in near approximation to the word TEAM require me to point out the mother of all knowledge-worker-team books PEOPLEWARE by DeMarco and Lister. Because software teams are special, awesome, and if they release a product, powerful in nerd culture.

Then someone not on the Web Clipper team had an idea of making a “more pure” tool to bridge from the internet into user databases.

*Aside*

No. I do not have any leaked proprietary information Evernote. It is just that seasoned software people have seen this happen so many times, at so many companies, that the finger prints of this kind of bifurcating product effort, do not even belong to the individual perpetrators. They belong to class events.

For example, I worked for a general manager at HP who built a high performance team around his product. The high performance team got their product (a not-HP3000) to out-perform the HP3000.

Unforgivable.

Sin.

/*Aside*

So, in our novella, the *insiders* are the Web Clipp-istas. And, the outsiders are the Clearly-purists. Once you have true outsiders within a company’s software ecology, you have evolved a new species of team that defines itself in being “not” the defacto internet-to-Evernote team. The result of two software teams doing a similar thing is …

Pasted_Image_2014_04_08__12_33_PM

For example … IBM’s “black” team (DeMarco & Lister Kindle Book L1849 Chapter 19). A gelled team inside IBM that delighted in making other gelled software teams cry.

Think of the Web Clip-istas as Bill Clinton, and the Clearly-purists as the Republican party. As the republican party develops TRUE differentiation, Bill Clinton would shift to “the middle” and suck out the differentiation’s soul like a dementor …

 

BlogGraphics02_pptxSource: PrestigeDetail.Ca

So, now we know the ecology of two teams running in parallel inside Evernote, why does Clearly exist? Well … initially, it was because Clearly did something that Web Clipper did not do (stripping out useless screen elements). Today, however, Clearly exists as the reading-R&D function for the Web Clipper team.

Wait, what?

Web Clipper has moved to incorporate the functionality developed by the Clearly team. So now with clearly you have A LOT OF OPTIONS (see red arrows) about what to capture …

Fullscreen_2014_04_08__12_59_PM… and, Clearly, has few options.  When you use Clearly, it is cleaner than using Web Clipper because Clearly takes you right into the “simplified article” view. Usually this works. Sometimes not. When “simplified article” does not work, Web Clipper is head and shoulders above Clearly in functionality.

So, Web Clipper by having Clearly’s “back” is the superset of functionality. And clearly, is the cutting edge.

Back to the question: And do I really need Clearly?

The simple answer is “no.” All a GTD person needs is Evernote Web Clipper. Evernote Clearly though awesome, though powerful, though it be ahead of Web Clipper, is the product of the marginalized software team.

Web Clipper in its myriad options (red arrows in image above) has more capabilities than Clearly. More to learn in the short run, but more simplicity in the long run because you only have to learn one tool.

Web Clipper folk, time to find something more cutting edge to do at Evernote.com! Web Clipper’s product manager is the “Bill Clinton of Evernote” and resistance is futile. Bill will assimilate you.

Bottom Line for GTD people:

Install Evernote Web Clipper, and ignore Evernote Clearly.

bill meade

What is Evernote Web Clipper?

How_to_use_Evernote_Web_Clipper___EvernoteWeb Clipper is …

Evernote has a web page at https://evernote.com/webclipper/guide/#1 that shows you how Web Clipper works, and, what you can do with Web Clipper. I have not read Evernote’s entire web site, but it seems to me that Evernote is as meticulous about not mentioning GETTING THINGS DONE as David Allen is meticulous in avoiding mentioning electronic technology. The purpose of this post is to explore the roles Evernote Web Clipper can play in a GTD trusted system.

*Aside* David Allen is the master of the game of organizing. I yield to no one in admiration for the refined, focused, and effective system that Allen has made GTD.

But …

… if I were David Allen, I would be pushing a two “gateway” technology tools to catalyze GTD implementation. For example:

  • Dual-sided-single-pass-50-page-input-scanners. Currently the ScanSnap iX500 is the top rated scanner in customer satisfaction (based on Amazon revues). A professional scanner is a gateway technology because it allows you to get paper out of your face. My 94,000 page massive filing system took four long afternoons to import to computer.
  • Evernote. Because once you have all the atoms of your “might-have-a-next-action” converted to electrons, you need a way to Google your electrons to find documents as you need them. I wish that Evernote had competitors, but right now, there just are none.

Zooming Out …

There are three GTD universes that trusted systems need to interact with: atoms, bits universe (email, web pages), and images (physical stuff reduced to bits or images):

BlogGraphics02_pptxThe reason we have headaches about all the stuff we have to do, is that all the objects in all three of these domains will live in our brain if we do not have a better way to manage them.  GTD is a better way to manage all the “stuff” objects in these three realms, but implementing GTD is hard.  Why is implementing GTD hard?

  1. Because we have to recognize all the stuff that we are carrying around in our subconscious. For example, how many projects do you have? Common answer “10 or 12″ actual answer >300. Understanding how one is organized before GTD, is sure to overwhelm.
  2. Because to get all the objects in our subconscious out of minds, we have to take their real-world counter parts (atoms, bits, and images) and move them into a trusted system.
  3. Because we have to build a trusted system before we move anything.
  4. Because we are afraid we will “do it wrong” when building our trusted system.
  5. Because doing steps 1 through 3 is exhausting and it takes a pretty big investment to accomplish these steps. And, life does not stand still while doing steps 1-3.

What does this have to do with Evernote Web Clipper?

Glad you asked!!! Because Evernote Web Clipper is the principal means of moving important “bits stuff” from the world, into your Evernote database.

This image is an idealization of how the world should work to on-ramp stuff-with-next-actions (STNA) into an Evernote reference file system.

BlogGraphics02_pptx 2

Q: What is Evernote Web Clipper?

A: The principal on-ramp to move bits from the world into your Evernote database.

Q: Why is this a big deal?

A: Because when you have captured the bits your subconscious is diligently not-forgetting, and your sub conscious sees that it can trust your system. Your brain will go through the-mother-of-all-defrags and you will reclaim massive quantities of now-empty memory slots to renew your creativity and amplify focus power.

In this analogy, why is a scanner so important? Because a scanner is an on-ramp for all your paper into your Evernote Database. And, once the atoms have been turned to bits and brought into Evernote, you can recycle the atoms and gain two physical degree of freedom over your work environment: (1) Elimination of clutter, and (2) Rearrangement freedom as you can CraigsListFree your file cabinets and take back tons of office space. And, you reclaim memory slots increasing creativity and amplifying focus power.

What about Web Clipper on tablets and Smart Phones? It appears that Evernote has not gotten there yet. So Evernote gets a Janus (my little marker for stuff that isn’t in Evernote yet, but I find does make it in over time) as I predict this will happen.

800px-Janus1Source: Wikipedia

I did find, however, Jonathan Mergy’s web site where he has a workaround to simulate Evernote Web Clipper for iPhones and iPads. I am an Android, so I have not tested this. But once you install Web Clipper and get accustomed to it, you instinctively reach to click on Web Clipper when you are using your phone or tablet.

bill meade


Appendix A: Basic How Tos:

To see several of the things Web Clipper can do:

  • Go to https://evernote.com/webclipper/guide/#1

 

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you wish for …

Keith posted a reply to the blog post on Ever-noteCards pointing me to CardDesk.net. This post is a quick look at CardDesk.

What is it?

CardDesk is a bolt-on web interface to Evernote that allows you to drag your notes from the left column, and drop them on a cork board, where they turn into electronic note cards. Here is what CardDesk looks like pointing at my “Graphics” notebook where I’ve pulled out four notes and turned them into cards:

Welcome_Desktop

Cards are organized into groups by creating desktops. The cork board above is one desktop with four notes on it. It *appears* that the desktop is limited in size to your screen size. Notes can not be moved off the edge of the screen. You can also zoom out from the desktop to make it larger, but you can’t grab a desktop and pan across it like a Google map. This allows you to put a card at the edge of the desktop, but once there, you can’t zoom it up in size. Zooming in takes you back to the top left corner of the desktop.

You can edit notes by double clicking them, which opens Evernote web. Oops, time to get on with how it works …

How Does It Work?

CardDesk is a web application. Not a plug-in to Evernote desktop on your computer. You authorize CardDesk to access your Evernote account, and when you drag a card from a notebook, it can take time for the note to download to CardDesk. So, best to have a big internet pipe.

Cards can be removed from the desktop by selecting “Remove Cards” at the top of the desktop. Right clicking on a card does not control CardDesk, you see just the normal browser options.

To make a note a card, you hover your mouse over the left edge of the CardDesk window and your Evernote notebooks pop up to allow you to scroll across your notebooks and see your notes. You can “pin” CardDesk’s menu so that it stays open. But, if you have not organized your Evernote system into notebooks, you’ll have to do a lot of scrolling or querying to find your notes.

And … you can’t text query your Evernote tags. You have to open tags (bottom of list at left same as in the Evernote client) and clicking on them. Once you find the note you want to make into a card, you drag it to the desktop (cork board).

What Are The Problems?

  1. CardDesk is not yet deep indulgent or complete.At present, CardDesk is a toy app. Shortcut notes are gone (big deal for me) from upper left. Once I create desktops in CardDesk I won’t be able to access them inside Evernote on my computer. Cards are rigidly stuck in orthogonal relationship to one another (upper left hand corners of all cards are always at the same rotation).

    Even though a toy app, CardDesk is the best integrated web app that I’ve seen touch Evernote.

  2. CardDesk’s grouping capabilities for notes, are too limited. CardDesk can’t compete with paper 3×5 cards.I’m looking for a note card manager that can allow me to spread out many cards, and then drag them around into groups. I think of this as “letting the cards talk to each other.”

    This is a natural planning tool from Mr. Edmundson, David Allen’s high school English teacher (GTD Chapter 3, p. 72). And, CardDesk can’t yet approach cards talking to each other.

    For example, you can’t drag a notebook to CardDesk to get all the cards on the desktop at once. Further, you can’t select all the cards in a notebook and drag them to the desktop at once. CardDesk currently sticks you with dragging notes one by one. Ugh for a big project.

    Electronic note card programs are dying from the lack of breakthrough ways to extend human powers of grouping. Evernote’s “related notes” function is currently the best card tool for automatic group finding. Yet, just a baby step in the direction of a killer app for conceptual grouping of information.

  3. No Thing 2 (click and do the scroll down)Being able to morph cards from computer screen to paper, mark them up, and then import them back to the computer, is a killer capability for mental-antiques like me who have to write on paper. And CardDesk isn’t in the ball park of this functionality yet.

CardDesk is a step in the right direction, but for now, I’m staying with physical 3×5 cards.

bill meade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evernote abandonment poll

Reason #1 GTD Users Abandon Evernote sparked 50 times the page views of a normal RestartGTD.com post.

Today I’d like to:

  • Ask GTD users who have abandoned Evernote … Why? Or,
  • Ask non-GTD folks who have tried and abandoned Evernote … Why?

GTD users fill in this poll: Choose one best answer or write in a better answer

Non GTD users fill in this poll: Choose one best answer or write in a better answer

Number 1 Reason GTDers Don’t Use Evernote … after installing Evernote

False Start in Swimming CompetitionSource: Corbis

TLDR:

You can do both GTD and Evernote if:

  • You read only chapters 1-3 of GTD, then
  • implement Evernote as your reference filing system,
  • don’t forget to install three Evernote add ons,
  • be well rested when you work (don’t sleep walk) and
  • focus on doing one new GTD skill (reference filing) well, before adding others.

If you don’t do all these steps, you … will … fail and then likely stop using both GTD and Evernote. Failing does not have to happen.

/TLDR:

Reason #1: Too Many Changes At Once

The only reason for time is so everything doesn't happen at once.
- Albert Einstein

OK, you’ve picked up GETTING THINGS DONE (GTD) and you read the first three chapters. You stopped, considered my explicit instructions (see step 4) not to read the rest of the book for a year. In fact, when I give away GTD (I’ve given away over 50 copies so far) I physically cut the binding at chapter 4, and then do not give the last part of the book … until a year later.

D3M_5637

But most people do not buy defaced copies of GTD, or cut their books. So, they get excited in the first three chapters, and with boundless (temporary) energy, read the rest of the book. Embarking on a mission to change years of organizing habits, in three days. Prepare thine head … to be pulled off.

Even unemployed people can’t implement GTD in three days, a week, or even a month. I’ve seen them try. Changing everything at once is too much “shaking the jello.”

For example:

  • Gathering work into a reduced number of  inboxes is one piece of new jello … shaking,
  • pre-processing inboxes without doing the work simultaneously = new piece of shaking jello.
  • Setting up separate project and reference folders is another.
  • And in the middle of all this shaking GTD jello, you are tired, overwhelmed, and are basically sleep walking.
  • While sleep walking, you set up an Evernote account, downloaded Evernote, install Evernote, check that Evernote works. Evernote is (sleep walking) working!

But, implementing GTD is such an overwhelming experience, after you get Evernote installed and running, you sleep-walk back to review GTD chapters 4-13. And there are new pieces of jello to implement and get shaking!!!

Then guilt at what you are not doing. Exhaustion from trying to reorganize all organizing tools … at once. And, Evernote itself can cause brain pain. So, from a sleep walking perspective, Evernote seems like a small speck in the eye. “Reference filing, no big deal.”

This.

Is.

Wrong.

Reference filing, the green box in this image, is a keystone skill of GTD.

Snapshot-10412-1030-AM-2.png

Not a mote, reference filing is a board in your eye. A board because if you are going to make the switch to GTD, Step 1 is to implement Evernote to get the useless paper ballast out of your face so you can later implement GTD and take back your brain.

Did I mention that reference filing is not trivial? Reference filing setup requires:

Reference filing is a HUGE challenge. But if you can implement Evernote and turn the corner, Evernote reference filing will:

  • Clear your desk of paper (reducing clutter)
  • Clear your office of file cabinets (reducing clutter and giving well-feels about your space)
  • Allow you to find anything in your old paper files in 15 seconds (this is HUGE it allows your subconscious to trust your change to a new system where subconscious does not need to “not-forget” all your important historical materials).
  • Give you a quick win to overcome cynicism in yourself, and in your peers (it is much better to hear “Why are you so happy?” after a week from your spouse, than “You were all diarrhea mouth about GTD, but nothing has changed. What is up with that?”).
  • And set you up to be successful implementing later pieces of shaking GTD jello.

*Note* having an Evernote account, having Evernote installed, and having Evernote running, is not having an Evernote reference filing system.

Installing Evernote while sleep-walking makes you miss three key components of Evernote’s dominant design.

  1. Evernote Web Clipper.
  2. Evernote Clearly. And
  3. Evernote Skitch.

Without all three of these tools your GTD system will leak all your internet information. As the internet is now the largest source of reference materials, this omission is sin. One byte of data about this …

A Clearly Example:

Last weekend I helped a friend who had bought Evernote Pro based on an enthusiastic Evernote demonstration two years ago. But after installing, she did not use Evernote. When I reviewed her Evernote installation, Web Clipper, Clearly, and Skitch, were not installed. So, we installed them  (2 minutes) and then I pointed her to PC Magazine (single most cluttered web site on the internet) and demonstrated Web Clipper and Clearly. When she saw that in one click:

- she could strip all clutter and advertising from web pages, and
– she could highlight passages in web pages, and
– that the web pages automatically save into Evernote, and
– that Evernote automatically put documents in folders where they are wanted,

she said:

“Clearly all by itself makes using Evernote worth it.”

Read that sentence again!

Summary:

I’ve heard that of all the people that attend the $800 GTD seminars, only about 17% actually successfully implement GTD. If there is an 83% failure rate implementing GTD, and in the middle of that failure there is this “Reference filing, no big deal!” trap where you run into:

- a ton of short term setup,
– need-for-un-wavering-attention,
– budgeting time to work while being well-rested, and
– significant costs,

There is no way you can reach Evernote critical mass. Heck, 83% of people don’t reach GTD critical mass! Changing one organizing habit at a time, is a TON of work.

So, if you want to implement GTD, plan on doing so part time.

Slow down.

Pick the one GTD tool that will give you the highest payoff, implement one tool well, and then move to the next tool.

GTD’s tool payoff precedence for me has been:

  1. Reference filing
  2. Getting a real desk (see Restart GTD’s best-selling-post: Perfect GTD Desk)
  3. Natural project management

And these three tools take at least a year to master. After you implement these three, I deputize you to read chapters 4-13 in GTD. But, … not until then.

bill meade