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3 ways to unclutter your life using Gnote

Get organized! Here are 3 ways to unclutter your life and build a personal database with Gnote.

Gnote should come pre-install with your Fedora installation, so we haven't included installation instructions here. To start using Gnote, simply click on the yellow post-it note icon that appears in your desktop panel, as shown here.

1. Keep daily and master To-Do lists

You may have read some personal organization books, like Gettings Things Done by David Allen, that advocate keeping lists of all the tasks you've got on your plate. One problem I've experienced using the system advocated in Getting Things Done is that you end up with a few very long lists that can be really de-motivating to look at - all that stuff in a big, long list can be overwhelming.

Using Gnote, however, you can store a comprehensive (and long) 'To-Do' master list, a full 'Waiting On' list of tasks you're waiting on other folks to follow up on, and a 'Someday' or 'Tickler' list of tasks you'd like to do someday - and you can also store daily 'To-Do' lists that break off a very small, digestible chunk of your longer master lists. This can be a whole lot less de-motivating, because you're accomplishing tasks off of your separately-stored master list, but in a way that shelters you from the overwhelming amount of tasks you haven't slated to work on today!

Setting up your 3 main master to-do lists

What you'll want to do first is to transcribe any of your master to-do / waiting on / someday tasks lists from your current filing system - perhaps a paper notebook - and create a Gnote note for each. If you don't have any pre-existing lists, here's a basic process for creating them:

  • Go through any notes, emails, and papers you might have, and your brain, and write down everything you need to do. Groceries, projects at work, phone calls to make - all is fair game. Jot it all down in one Gnote note; title the note "Master To-Do List." I recommend using a bulleted list format - simply add a "*" character before your first entry in the note, and hit enter to continue on to the next bulleted item.
  • Create two more Gnote notes, one titled, "Someday To-Do List," and one titled "Waiting On To-Do List."
  • Start going through your list item-by-item, For each item, decide if it is something you need to do in the immediate future, something that you'd like to get done but have no immediate plans to get done, and things you're involved with but are in someone else's hands now.
  • For items that you have no immediate plans to get done, remove them from the "Master To-Do List" Gnote and paste them into the "Someday To-Do List" note.
  • For items that you are waiting on someone else to continue on, remove them from the "Master To-Do List" Gnote and paste them into the "Waiting On To-Do List" note.

Now you have three main master to-do lists!

Daily workflow

Here's a daily workflow you can use to make this system work!

  1. At the beginning of the day, create a new note and put the date in it. E.g, the naming format I like to use is, "To Do: 8 Nov 2010."
  2. Open up your "Master To-Do List" note and pick one or two items you think you can accomplish today. Copy them into today's To Do note.
  3. Open up your "Waiting On To-Do List" note and pick one or two items you think you could follow up on today. If Joe's had that proposal on his desk for two weeks, now might be a good time to remind him that you're waiting for him to review it!
  4. As your day progresses, try to work on the items you set out for yourself. As you complete items, highlight the item and press Ctrl+S to cross it off of your list.
  5. Things outside of our daily plans always come up, and sometimes we have to give up on our plan and attend to these more urgent, unpredictable issues. Don't worry about it!
  6. At the end of the day, jot down anything you may have accomplished or spent time on outside of the scope of the to-dos you planned for the day. Create a fresh To-Do note for tomorrow, and copy any items you didn't accomplish today into it for your plan tomorrow. For any items you completed today, cross them off your "Master To-Do List" as well.

You can keep all these lists always visible in the Gnote notes list by clicking the little thumbtack icon next to them in the list. Keeping daily to-do lists using Gnote is a great way to review what you've accomplished at the end of the week, and makes it easy to write weekly status reports if your job requires that.

2. Clean up those sticky-notes all over your desk!

Tear them all down! That's right! Gather up all your sticky-notes, scraps of paper, notes written on the back of other papers, and make a pile. One-by-one, go through each piece of paper and transcribe it into a new digital Gnote. Now your desk is much neater, and you can search across all of your notes.

Searching across your notes

Click on the Gnote icon in your desktop panel, and select Search All Notes in the menu. You can search across all of your notes or just notes in a specific 'Notebook.'

3. Keep great meeting minutes and send them out!

Get into the habit of opening up a new Gnote note for every meeting you attend and you'll soon have a database of all the meetings you've attended. I recommend you use the meeting's subject and the date of the meeting in the title of the note.

Want to be a hero to your fellow meeting-goers? You can easily export your meeting minutes to html or PDF and send them out in an email.

Exporting to HTML
  • Open up your meeting minutes note.
  • Click on the 'gears' icon in the note's toolbar towards the top of the note.
  • Select 'Export to HTML' in the menu.

I recommend saving the HTML export to your desktop, then going to your desktop, right-clicking the document, and selecting "Send To" in the menu to email it out.

Saving your note as a PDF
  • Open up your meeting minutes note.
  • Click on the 'gears' icon in the note's toolbar towards the top of the note.
  • Select 'Print' in the menu.
  • In the Print dialog that appears, select "Print to File" at the top of the list of printers.
  • Fill in a name for your PDF in the "Name:" field, and click on the "PDF" radio button towards the right.
  • Choose a folder to save the PDF to in the "Save in Folder:" dialog and click the "Print" button to create the PDF.

For emailing the PDF, I similarly recommend that you save it to your desktop, go to your desktop, right-click the document, and select "Send To" in the menu to email it out.

More Gnote tips

Here's some more suggestions for ways to organize your life with Gnote:

  • Event planning: Any web addresses or email addresses you paste into a note will become clickable links. If you're, say, trying to book a reception hall for an event, you can create a note of possible places, gather their phone numbers and web addresses together in one place, and as you call each place you can take notes inline inside the note and have quick and easy access to their website to review as you talk.
  • Shopping lists: Throughout the week, as you notice items you'll run out of or items you need for recipes you want to try, add them to a running 'shopping list' note. When you're ready to go to the supermarket, simply print off the list and bring it with you.
  • Storing recommendations: Friends are always recommending restaurants to try, books to read, movies to see - but when it's time to eat, go to the library, or pick out a movie, I can never seem to remember those recommendations. No more! I keep running 'To Try' lists in a variety of categories in Gnote - restaurants, books, movies, travel destinations, recipes, music albums - and during those moments where I'm not sure what to try I bring up one of these lists.

Enjoy and share!

Now you have a plan to get and stay organized using Gnote. Have fun, and be sure to share these tips you learned with others!

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