GTD Workflow

The following is part of an ongoing and ever perfecting discussion on how to use Evernote to Get Things Done. For more information on GTD, I suggest reading David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done.” Please make sure you’ve checked out the Evernote Setup Guide.

Evernote Theory is just that. It’s discussion on how best to utilize EN, within the GTD system, to accomplish your goals. It is theory because this blog and all ensuing discussions are meant to mentally guide you to find what works best for you. EN Theory, for me, is translated to practice every day. I think the term YMMV (your mileage  may vary) applies here.

Information overload is an apt term for medical school. The sheer volume of knowledge that will come into your brain poses a dilemma: you aren’t that good. If you are forced to not only remember all those bones and muscles and innervation, (and physiology, histology, neurology…) along with where all that information is stored on your computer, how are you supposed to remember a recipe? Or what you’re working on for whatever extracurricular activity keeps you sane? Or the brilliant idea you come up with to solve world hunger, socioeconomic disparities, or keeping your hair looking awesome after wearing a scrub cap? (Pomade. Done). Your brain is limited, prime real estate. You need a dynamic, organized, searchable system to easily find stuff when you need it based on as little recall cues as possible, and you need a process to follow to know when to work on what task.

Here’s the basic GTD Workflow:

Information is imported into EN’s Inbox, the notebook you set up as the default. Ideas, pictures, webclips, lectures you import. Once in EN Inbox, at some point soon, they get a tag. If it’s an actionable idea, give it a when tag. Do you need to do it next or can it wait until later? Is it something that you can schedule? Is it something you are waiting on someone or something to finish? Or is it a project or idea that doesn’t need to get done any time, per se, but you want to do it at some point, when you have time. Tag it!

If it’s just reference material, without an actionable component, give it a what tag, like Anatomy or Journal Articles etc.

Once you’ve tagged the note, drag it to your Online CabinetThis is where everything should end up. The inbox, like a real inbox on a desk, is a temporary holding place until you give the item a context and file it appropriately. If you’re coming close to your data limit for the month, put the file in your Offline Cabinet.

When you click on “All Notebooks” and then choose a tag, sayJournal Articles, EN will display all notes with that tag, regardless of which notebook it’s in. While on your main computer, there is no functional difference between your Online/Offline Cabinet or Inbox. The tags are filter.

That’s it for now. Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions. I will try to answer them as best I can. Also, stay tuned for more explanations and guides. I wanted to get this out and rolling, but I understand if everything isn’t clear yet.

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Posted in EN-GTD Theory
2 comments on “GTD Workflow
  1. Suzi says:

    I really like your use of Evernote. I’m a soon to be matriculating medical student and I am trying to get my organization on track before I begin. I just came across this extension called powerbot for gmail and it seems really helpful. I also thought installing the EN application into the top bar in the finder was genius. I’m also a big Anki fan and if you have any more tricks regarding that I’m always up for learning more.

  2. Mark says:

    I have been going back and forth between Apple’s Mail and Gmail on a browser window. I think powerbot just put me over the edge. Thanks for the suggestion.

    I will try to put up more stuff about Anki in the future. 2nd year was a BIG time crunch, no surprise, but I plan on working on this blog more.

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Welcome to Managing Med-School! A place for resources and discussion about how to manage your hectic life as a medical student and on into your career.
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