ScanSnap GTD Tricks #1: Next Action Stamp

Getting_Started_with_GETTING_THINGS_DONE_–_2014_–_in_27_steps___RestartGTD

As I was depositing a check with my ScanSnap this morning, I had the idea that I should post a few ScanSnap GTD tricks. Then Joe Terrana posted a comment to the 2014 Getting Started with Getting Things Done post, with a cool *new* trick.

Amazon_com___Ideal_4912__3_4__x_2__Custom_Self-Inking_Rubber_Stamp___Business_Stamps_And_Print_Kits___Office_Products

Source: Amazon.com

Go to Amazon, then order this custom rubber stamp, and then follow the instructions to “Contact Seller” and send them “Next Action” as the message for the stamp.

Then once the scanner arrives, you can stamp paper with “Next Action” scan the paper into Evernote (Click here to subscribe to Evernote), and then after Evernote does optical character recognition (OCR) on the stamped part of the note, you can search for “Next actions” and find all of your scanned next actions.

Very slick.

Very Simple!

Thank you Joe for the ScanSnap GTD Trick #1.

bill meade

p.s., I had the idea, since Evernote also attempts to recognize hand-written characters, that I could scan a note card with “Next Action” on it, and perhaps achieve the same result as using a custom rubber stamp. Here is what the card looks like:

Evernote_Premium

Expecting Evernote to be able to read my handwriting is not a fair test, I know. But, it seemed like a fun trial. Evernote’s explanation of how OCR works says that it take a “few minutes.” I’ve always assumed that Evernote takes “over night” to complete OCR operations, so we’ll see how long it takes for this note:

  • 1st check on indexing status: 20 minutes later … not indexed.
  • 2nd check on indexing status: 11 hours later … not indexed.
  • 3rd check on indexing status: 23:10 later … not indexed.
  • 4th check on indexing status: 33 hours later … INDEXED!!!!

However long it takes, I’ll update this post after Evernote indexes the card to see if it is possible to simply write “Next Action” and have OCR recover the magic GTD words.

You can tell if an Evernote note has been indexed by clicking on the i at the upper right of the note:

Fullscreen_2014_09_17__8_01_PM

And then looking at “Attachment Status” 3/4 of the way down the dialog box (red arrow).

While it is true that GTD indexing can be measured in minutes 33 * 60 = 1,980 minutes. It is not a safe workflow to depend on Evernote scanning documents immediately.

Success … kind of

After my index card was OCR’d by Evernote, I am able to search for the word “Next” but alas, “action” in my hand writing was not recognized. :-(

Evernote_Premium

I was not able to determine precisely how long it took for Evernote to do the text recognition.

Lesson Learned:

You can buy a self inking stamp, and Evernote will read it. Thanks again Joe Terrana for giving me the stamp idea, so I could have the stepping stone idea of just writing “next action” on the card.

It would be smart to create a sample card for yourself, scan it, and then see if Evernote can recognize your hand writing. In fact, if you’ve already written “next action” on a 3×5 card that you scanned into Evernote, you might be able to test this out today. Just search on the GTD Magic Words! 

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