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Best way to organize project support material/notes on computer?

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  • Best way to organize project support material/notes on computer?

    Hi guys,

    I am still implementing the GTD with my outlook and computer and have the following question:

    What is the best way to store project meeting notes and project support information in your computer? I just keep making folders in windows with word files (that have bulleted lists in them), but then saw software like http://www.evernote.com/en/ and OneNote. Is it generally superior to use programs like this if you have alot of projects and you are accumulating alot of ideas and notes on those projects?

    Anyone here have any experience with this? Before I continue collecting tons of notes for my many projects, I'd like to get off on a good start..

    Serene
    Last edited by Serene; 02-08-2006, 07:42 AM.

  • #2
    EverNote Rocks

    EverNote is amazing. I've been using it for several months. I love the following:
    • automatic date/time of each note
    • hierarchical category list
    • assign multiple categories to any note (this is a complete paradigm shift - thank you GMail - and it has changed the way I organize/think now)
    • category intersection panel (want to see what next actions you have in a particular project? easy)
    • automatic categories (e.g., if I type @next in a note, it shows up in my Next Action category.)
    • fast search for notes
    • scalability - I have almost 2000 notes and haven't noticed a slow down
    • handles text, links to documents on my hard drive, images, etc.
    • ability to copy something anywhere else and paste it automatically into a new note
    • awesome support from the developers

    I would like to address your question about project support material more directly. First, I use Outlook as my primary list keeper (because I want to sync to my Palm), but I use EverNote for all of my support material. For example, I have a new project - organize workshop. It gets its own category (a sub-sub-category in the overall hierarchy). The first thing I do is create a note with a Project Outcome template (see EverNote Template Catalogue for a catalogue of templates that I've been collecting). The Project Outcome reminds me of what I want to do with this project and my stopping criteria. Then, I usually create another template (this one basically a To Do list with dates, and a column for my GTD tags). Usually, when I start a project, I have a few ideas of what needs to be done - say a handful of NAs, not all of which can be done right away. I put them in the to do list. Pick the next one or two that can be done right away and mark them with @next. Put these into Outlook because they are real next actions now. Other NAs that can't be done yet get to stay in EverNote, out of the way.

    In addition, I'll make a subcategory of this project for Support Material, e.g., web snippets, copies of emails relating to the project, miscellaneous research notes, etc. etc. This way, the project category holds the administrative stuff, i.e.., lists, key information about people, etc., while the support sub-category holds the background material.

    I've been finessing this system since I started using EverNote, and I have to say that I'm really liking it more and more. Everything has a place, and yet information can be in two ore more places. For example, I had an email today that related to three separate projects. I copied the email into a new note, and then assigned it to all three project categories. Very sweet.

    Hope this helps

    Comment


    • #3
      Email goes in a file by client or by project, depending on the amount of email.

      Project support materials that are also useful as long-term reference information (technical papers, for instance) go in a folder tree organized by topic.

      Meeting notes, project-specific reference information (like purchase order numbers), and random information snippets go into a desktop wiki-like thing called Wikidpad.

      I also keep a lot of notes on paper. After experimenting with a lot of different formats, I'm now using custom-printed spiral notebooks. They're a nicely portable size, have numbered grid-ruled pages, and have nice hard covers so I can write in them while standing up. Surprisingly inexpensive, too. Not much more than standard notebooks of this quality.

      Katherine

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't know if this is the beeeeeest way, but it seems to work for me so far.

        For Outlook, I have six top-level e-mail folders:
        @ACTION
        @Read&Review
        @WAITING FOR...
        Projects
        Reference
        Someday_Maybe

        The @ACTION and @WAITING FOR... folders are used to store e-mails I have to act on and e-mails I am waiting responses for, respectively. @Read&Review are e-mails with/without attachments that represent information of interest that I wish to process when I have a period of time to do so.

        Inside the Projects folder, I keep a separate subfolder for each project I am actively engaged in (i.e., the ones on my Master Project list). Note that I do not open a folder for every project, only those where e-mail is part of the activity associated with that project.

        Inside the Reference folder, I keep e-mails in separate subfolders that I continually refer to or that I am not quite ready to archive away. Current contents are things like e-mails related to my company organizational structure, e-mails from my personnel requesting time off, etc. I also move completed projects into the Reference folder.

        At the end of the year, I intend to go through the Reference folder and archive away anything that I haven't touched in during that time.

        My hard drive is set up the exact same way with the same file folder names. The advantage of this is that it allows me to strip off attachments in e-mails and save them to the same hard drive folder (my company frowns on using Outlook as a storage medium, especially in this era of multi-MB PowerPoint presentations!). It also allows me a logical place to store the e-mail archives that I generate (I archive each e-mail subfolder separately).

        Hope this helps,

        Matthew
        Last edited by Starfish; 02-08-2006, 11:55 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Sorry for bringing up an old thread, but this is an interesting discussion.

          I feel more comfortable when my project related notes and materials are in dedicated software. I have tried using Windows folders, but just find it cumbersome and I don't like the feeling of mixing my important documents and notes with program files, downloads, etc. Just like GTD teaches us, we have to keep reference data separated from the everyday fluff

          Storing these notes in a separate program also makes them easier to backup, since I know that all files from program A are my reference info. Depending on the program, it could also be easier to find stuff than in Windows Explorer.

          I have tried quite many personal information managers. Most of them are part-time jobs, but there are some of very high quality.

          I am not an avid Mac user, but I have used it in the past and the best way to organize project related notes there was (and still is IMO) DevonNote. There is also more advanced version of this product, DevonThink, so you may compare them and see which one is better for you (http://www.devon-technologies.com/pr...mparison.html).

          For PC, I use extensively MyInfo Professional (http://www.milenix.com), because I need the portable edition (I use it on my USB stick). If you don't use flash drives, then maybe the Standard edition will work fine for you.

          Comment


          • #6
            Keeping It All in One Central System

            John hits the nail on the head. You do need a central reference for all of your electronic, project related "stuff."

            Personally, I got tired of always hunting for project related materials --- the documents, web links, e-mails, tasks, calendar items --- so, I created a company and we created a piece of software that keeps it "all in one system." If you are an Outlook user, take a look and see if it helps.

            John; you hit another important nail on the head -- in the electronic world, you have to backup your "reference file." Our software only creates references to the files and does not actually capture the file. (We did this on purpose on feedback from our steering committee -- people didn't want us moving their files.) I usually keep everything in "My Documents" and back that up, as well as the Application Data folder. I have high hopes that has me covered (knock on wood).

            Hope this all helps.

            Best,

            Comment


            • #7
              no more Circa??

              Originally posted by kewms View Post

              I also keep a lot of notes on paper. After experimenting with a lot of different formats, I'm now using custom-printed spiral notebooks. They're a nicely portable size, have numbered grid-ruled pages, and have nice hard covers so I can write in them while standing up. Surprisingly inexpensive, too. Not much more than standard notebooks of this quality.

              Katherine
              Hi Katherine,

              I remember you sharing how you used different sizes of Circa - have you switched to something more generic? Just curious - I've been experimenting with Circa and like being able to move different pages around.

              Claudia

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by photodiva View Post
                Hi Katherine,

                I remember you sharing how you used different sizes of Circa - have you switched to something more generic? Just curious - I've been experimenting with Circa and like being able to move different pages around.

                Claudia
                I still use Circa for my GTD system: NA and Project lists. I use the spiral notebooks for project notes, which can be quite extensive. None of the Circa pages fit quite what I wanted, while being substantially more expensive (even than custom printing). For this particular application, having a permanent binding with pre-numbered pages is an advantage, as is a rigid cover for writing without a desk.

                Katherine

                Comment

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