One major advantage I have seen in moving from a Lotus Notes based system to Evernote is the tagging feature. This is likely not limited to Evernote as many tools used for GTD® have a tag feature. In this post I survey just some of the ways I have started to use tags for next actions.
Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com
Each tickler gets tags for the day, month and year I need to be tickled. I only use the year if it is NOT the current year. This saves one extra tag per tickler as most ticklers are for the current year. When reviewing ticklers, I simply select the month and day and I can view any ticklers for that day. I also use these day, month and year tags for actions with due dates. And, because I have TuskTools, all of the ticklers and due date items appear in my calendar.
I have %People tags for all the people I interact with on a regular basis, and/or manage. I use the %People tags on any next actions related to those people. These typically are @Agenda, @Delegate, @Delegated, @Email and @Waiting For next actions. This way when I meet with the person, I only have to access their %People tag to pull up all actions across all the contexts that are somehow linked to them.
Actions that trigger other actions
In the special case that completion of a current action immediately triggers another next action, I may add a #Next Action tag to the current action. I only use this if there is a next action I do not want to forget. In addition to the tag, I will document a description of the next action, or link to the @Someday/Maybe action that should be triggered.
Actions that are triggered by city
If I have an action that is going to be triggered when I get to a particular city, I add the appropriate ^When Next In … tag. Before I get to that city, I click on the appropriate city in the ^When Next In … tag section, and change the tags for all next actions to the appropriate context – @office, @hotel, @out & about, and so forth.
Today List and Hot List
Like many others, I also created a focus list so that I am not reviewing all my next actions when running through the day. I have two lists – a Today List which includes all items that must be done that day, and a Hot List which includes items that should get done in the next day or two. The more I can get a headstart on these items the better I can manage interruptions. These two tags appear in my shortcuts and so during the busy workday, I can concentrate on these two tags and only access other @context tags when (1) free time appears AND (2) the Priority tags (&Today and &Hot List) are emptied.
I tend to keep the history of next actions, and other project support materials. For next actions, I remove the @Context tag when I have completed the action and add an #Action – Completed tag. Occasionally I find that the next action is no longer valid in which case I use an #Action – Cancelled tag. This allows me to easily see how many actions I have completed over the course of the week. While I do not take this as a measure of how productive I have been, it has certainly been interesting to see how much volume my system handles, and which days I seem to address the more next actions.
The real benefit with tags is the ability to combine multiple tag types on a single next action without having to duplicate the next action. Each tag becomes a different view into your system. You can therefore view your next actions by people, by location, by period focus, by status … or some combination of these.
What innovative ways have you found to use tags?