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Evernote

Features I want to see in Evernote

EvernoteEdward KiledjianComment

I love the power and simplicity of Evernote. Having used it for a little while, I have some suggestions I wanted to share with you (hopefully someone from Evernote sees this, because improvement recommendations sent to their support box seem to get nowhere).

  • You can email notes into Evernote and they get saved into your default notebook. I would love for my Evernote account to have multiple email addresses, each saving a note to a different notebook with particular tags (like a predefined filter).
  • Evernote has spent a lot of time making their web client better but I still find it clunky and difficult to work with.  I wish their clients (Windows/Apple) had a “thin” mode where your database was not downloaded locally but accessed via the web without leaving traces on the local PC. This would be handy in situations like a work PC where you need the client’s full features but don’t want a copy of your complete database downloaded on the PC.
  • Evernote should include some basic image editing features such automatically straightening, cropping, rotating, and enhancing of scanned documents or images.
  • I know the real power of Evernote is its awesome search capabilities but I use Evernote as my GTD Reference system and there are notes that never need to come up in a search. I wish there was a per note feature to exclude a note from coming up in a search.
  • I have multiple notebooks and hundreds of tags. I wish there was a way to configure tags to pick up all  notes assigned to a tag regardless of what notebook I am currently in. Currently it only displays the notes with the selected tag in the active notebook.
  • I would like the web clipper to have a set date option directly when clipping a page and note have to go into the full client to make the change.
  • I want metadata templates (or note templates). Let’s say I have a bunch of contact notes in a notebook or assigned to a particular tag, I wish I could configure Evernote to show a default pre-defined field note (i.e. with Name, address, tel #, etc). The templates should be user definable.
  • If I pick a particular tag, I would like to be able to print out the note titles as a list. I use Evernote for GTD and this missing feature is a real pain.
  • I want to be able to encrypt an entire note regardless of the content. Come on Evernote, security is top of mind for most people.
  • Currently when someone shared a notebook with me (with full access), I can create new notes in it but I can't move or copy existing notes. Why not?
  • Notebooks shared with me should be visible on my main Account tab and not on a separate Shared tab.
  • I use to use SmugMug.com to share my photos with friends and family. One cool feature was custom URLs where I could map a URL I owned (i.e. photos.kiledjian.com) directly to my SmugMug account. This could be really cool for Evernote. Evernote could have a public Evernote site for customers where we could publish info we deem public (like a mini blog).

This is my rant for now. I am sure more suggestions will come up in a couple of months…

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Be safe when staying in a hotel (part 1)

Cloud, Evernote, Hotel, Safety, Security, TravellingEdward Kiledjian5 Comments

Having travelled to over 30 countries, I have picked up some interesting tips and tricks about hotel safety over the years. Since the holiday season is approaching and many of you may be travelling, I thought I would write a couple of short, bullet point style articles to help you stay safe.

The Preparation

Before leaving, I strongly recommend that you make at least 3 photocopies (front and back) of the following documents:

  • Credit cards
  • All tickets (airplane, train, show, etc)
  • Passport
  • Important documents you may be travelling with

I would leave one copy with a trusted resource back home ( as a worst case scenario backup) and carry 2 copies with me in different places. Many international hotels request that you leave a copy of your passport with them overnight while they complete your check-in (bad idea). Never surrender your original passport, give them a photocopy instead. In the age of digital, I often scan all the documents and store a digital copy somewhere in the cloud and on my iPhone ( just in case).

Another important consideration is the documentation of valuables you will be travelling with. I recommend photographing everything from different angles and serial numbers when available.

Before booking the hotel

In an emergency situation, you are ultimately responsible for your own safety. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Do your research before booking a hotel and the room. I generally want a non-biased third party to provide the below answers. If that is not possible then I try to stick to major Western chains that usually will be fairly honest with their answers.

  • Choose a hotel where the room locks are electronics. This makes it harder for previous guests or “bad guys” to have access to your room. Ask for 2 copies of the room key and keep both on you. If you misplace or lose one, immediately notify the hotel and have replacements made.
  • Make sure the room is equipped with a dead bolt lock and a peephole
  • Most of us do not pay attention to the hotel’s fire suppression system but trust me this one is important. Make sure your room is equipped with a smoke detector and that each room (and the hallways) have visible sprinkler systems. In many countries the fire response teams are not as fast, well equipped or trained as in North America.
  • Make sure that the hotel environment is secure with proper fencing and that the guest areas are well lit (parking, hallways, ice rooms, etc).
  • Generally I prefer hotels where the elevator leaving the parking area only goes to the lobby (and not directly to the rooms).
  • I try to make sure that any hotel I choose has adequate security personnel. I like to see uniformed security personnel that seem to be well trained and adequately equipped (in this case adequate depends on the area.) They should be willing to escort you to your room or vehicle if requested.
  • I recommend you contact the foreign affairs ministry of your country (DFAIT in Canada, US Embassy for USA, etc). Ask them about the area the hotel is located in and determine how safe it is.

… to be continued

The Getting Things Done (GTD) Weekly Review Process

Evernote, Management, Organization, PersonalBrain, Time ManagementEdward Kiledjian1 Comment

As a GTD fan, I have read the book, listened to the 10CD audio seminar,  read the articles on GTD Times and subscribed to David Allen’s audio blog. In all of these mediums, one of the key messages that seems to come up over and over, is the requirement to do the weekly review.  What would happen to your car if you never changed the oil? The car would get sluggish and eventually the engine would die. Same thing for GTD. You need to review your system and fine-tune it weekly otherwise it will die a horrible death.

Example of why it’s important

  • When I get in the execution zone, I start completing one task after another, after another. This means that I sometimes complete tasks and forget to mark them as complete in my system. This also means that some of my projects may be without their Next Action Item, which is bad in the world of GTD.
  • Even though I try to diligently capture everything in my inbox, I sometimes forget and end up with to-dos in my head. The weekly review is a great time to clean out my head.
  • Just like my oil change example, without proper maintenance and care, your GTD system will eventually become crusty and no longer applicable. Keep it relevant by constantly maintaining it during your weekly review.
  • Mental nirvana. I get a feeling of calm control when I realize that everything is in my system and being tracked properly. Even if my system is perfect and well maintained, there are mental benefits to doing the weekly review and realizing everything is capture and your life is in control.

How much time does it take?

There is no magic rule of thumb here. It should take as much time as you need but no more. Some of my weekly reviews take 30 minutes and others can take upwards of 2 hours. It all depends on how much action I had that week and how I managed to maintain my system on a daily basis.

I’m convinced, what do I do?

This is a question even experienced GTD practitioners need a refresher on from time to time. It is super simple.

When I sit down for my weekly review, here is my process:

  • I do a brain dump and make sure I “empty” out my mental to do list.
  • I ensure my emails are brought to zero and captured in my inbox
  • I ensure my voicemails are all listened to and captured in my inbox
  • I ensure my physical papers are all reviewed and captured in my inbox as appropriate
  • I now process my inbox and bring it to zero
  • I go through my calendar for the last 2-3 weekly and check if I missed any open loops. You will be surprised how many times this reminds me of things I may have forgotten.
  • I go through my calendar for the 2-3 upcoming weeks, and determine if all of my open loops have been captured
  • I then go through each of my lists and context to ensure the items are valid. Did I complete something and forget to mark it as such? Do I have a project with no next actions? Did someone owe me an item from the Waiting for list?

How do I do it?

My weekly review is planned in my calendar every Friday afternoon for 2 hours. For me it is a hard coded obligation. There are times when other activities become a bigger priority and I cancel my weekly review but this is the exception more than the rule. I never skip more than 1 review in a row and the next review (after a skip) will likely take double the time.

Other GTD Articles:

Workflowy is a great list manager

Evernote, Workflowy, freemiumEdward Kiledjian2 Comments

Click on any image in this post to see it in full size

My regular readers know about my addiction to David Allen’s GTD system. At its core, it is a well defined list management system. My tool of choice for my GTD implementation is Evernote but many of my co-workers and friends have become big fans of a web-based list service called Workflowy.

As soon as you login, you will notice a clean and easy to use interface.

 

Sure a blank screen may be intimidating to some but getting started is easy. If you are not using a formal list management philosophy then why not start with these: Goals, Projects, TO DO and Links. To get started, position yourself right after the dot, and type your first item. Then press enter and type your second item, etc.

Now the beauty of Webflowy is that you can create sub lists and sub-sub lists and sub-sub-sub lists (and so on). To do this, click on the dot next to your first item, then click on "+ Create New Item" and start typing your sub list items.

You can continue embedding to your hearts desire.

In the above case, I created 4 levels of embedded lists. I can move back to whichever level I want by simply clicking the navigator window (I highlighted in red).

If you hover your mouse over any of the item bullet dots, you get this menu

 

 

 The export option is neat and would look like this for my above test list:

Search Twitter and the biggest request you will see from Webflowy users is an iPhone or Android app. Their support team informs me that this is in the works but that they cannot provide a timeline.

One question I ask any company offering a free service is "how do you plan to monetize it?". After all, an unprofitable business won’t be in business for long. When I asked this question on Twitter, their response was that they will use a freemium model (similar to Evernote) where premium paid customers receive additional benefits but where regular users can choose to stay on the free plan if they choose forever.

Review of the free scan to cloud software - ScanDrop

Apple, Evernote, GTD, Google, Google Docs, WindowsEdward KiledjianComment


I am a big fan of Evernote and use it to store all of my reference material (as explained in the GTD methodology). One of the key requirements to my online storage strategy is converting paper into PDF and getting it into Evernote as simply and quickly as possible.

A while back I found a free software called ScanDrop which did exactly that. I use it to scan paper directly from my Brother multifunction device and then upload it straight into my Evernote [For Google Docs users, it supports that service too] inbox ready for processing. It supports a whole range of scanners.

Main Window - Click to see full size

 Cloud Service Selection Window

 

Conclusion

Did I mention it's free? Sure there are features missing but it meets 98% of my daily scanning requirements. They do have a Mac version but it costs $9.99 from the Mac AppStore (I still think it's worth it at that price).

I know some may be wondering how I use Evernote as my GTD reference system, I will cover that in a future entry.