• Philip Stratton

My Toodledo, Google Calendar, Pocket Informant and Evernote Workflow

In his book "Getting Things Done"(commonly referred to as GTD), David Allen states a key tenet of being productive and ensuring the thoughts you have are properly captured and recalled at the appropriate timing is to have a trusted system. During my career years, I came to rely on the usefulness of Microsoft Outlook and the ability to categorize email, calendar events, and tasks (often times creating events and task FROM an email). In more recent years, using OneNote with its tight integration with Outlook to organize large and small projects was an additional benefit.


Having retired from the military and recently departed the corporate world for a slower and simpler lifestyle, I have been looking for an integrated system that will help me stay on top of the job that I do for our church and for my own personal interest items. The system that I have developed primarily utilize the following tools:

  1. Toodledo (task management app)

  2. Google Calendar

  3. Pocket Informant (task and calendar integration app)

  4. Spark (email app)

  5. Evernote (note taking app)


Toodledo

Toodledo is my primary task management app. It is cross platform with a web interface, apps for Android and iOS, and Chrome extensions as well. Toodledo has a free plan but I opt for the paid subscription option that adds additional functionality, primarily subtasks that can contain their own start/due dates, context field, and other details that are useful when following the GTD methodology. The mobile app isn't the greatest, but the new owners of the app are promising a new UI soon.


Toodledo does not employ natural language entry, like other popular task apps, but once you get used to the quick entry syntax, adding tasks and associated details can be quickly accomplished. One thing Toodledo does do that many other task management apps do not is to allow recurring tasks to repeat based on completion date. For example, if I establish a task to call my mother every 3 days and I am unable to call until day 5, once I mark the task as complete I want to be reminded 3 days from my last call, not the next day (which would be 3 days from the last due date).


Toodledo also provides links to your task feed so you can see your due dates within your favorite calendar app. This is a key feature for my system, as we'll discuss.


When viewing my tasks, I prefer to view them sorted by Start Date since some tasks require lead time in order to prepare and complete the task.


Google Calendar

Google Calendar is the main hub for my various calendars. In addition to the calendars I have created, I subscribe to the Google Calendar created for the small business owned/operated by our church that I manage. I also subscribe to several Apple calendars such as my own, my wife's, and a family calendar that is shared within iCloud. Plus, the Toodledo feed mentioned earlier is pulled into my Google Calendar as well. Each calendar is color coded so I can quickly determine the context of the entry.


Pocket Informant

Pocket Informant is an iOS and MacOS app that integrates your calendar and tasks into a single tool. It does have a basic notes module as well, but I prefer no to use it. Pocket Informant is currently on version 5 and has transitioned to a subscription model. I am using version 4 that I had purchased and continues to function well for my needs.

Pocket Informant provides several calendar view options. You can view a daily agenda, daily calendar, weekly calendar that displays a 7-day grid (my favorite layout), weekly column calendar, monthly calendar, and yearly calendar.


Pocket Informant allows you to sync Toodledo tasks and provides many ways to customize or filter how your tasks are displayed. This UI is vastly superior to Toodledo's own app and is really the only method I use to create and manage my tasks from my iPhone or iPad.


Another great UI benefit is that the tasks appear under the calendar events for the day, sorted by due times (if included in the task details) with the various views.


This provides a complete view of the day's activities. Since it is a 2-way sync, marking tasks complete in one location or app will mark them complete across devices.


Pocket Informant also displays your iOS Reminders if, like me, you do use them for simple daily tasks (Remind me to pick up milk from the grocery store in 1 hour).


Spark

The Spark email client is available on iOS, MacOS and Android (there is no Windows versions as of this post). I love the Smart Inbox feature that allows me to see important unread emails from all of my email accounts. Using the iOS sharing function, emails can be shared to various apps, like Pocket Informant and supported services like Dropbox, OmniFocus, Todoist, Trello, and several others. Evernote is also a supported service and one that I use regularly.


Evernote

I have been an Evernote user for many, many years. I had a premium account in the early years, but found the free version sufficient for the majority of my time using the app. Since my work notes were stored in my corporate OneNote, Evernote basically became an unstructured destination for random notes and information. I had recently been experimenting with some of the hot apps, like Notion, Obsidian, and Craft. Each had benefits and serious weaknesses for my needs.


Following the recent updates to Evernote, I've heard a wide variety of reviews. I finally decided to give the first tier subscription (the Personal plan) a try. It didn't take long to realize the new features, along with Evernote's normal notebook structure and tagging ability, was going to complete my productivity system.


Tasks

Evernote has added the ability to create tasks that will appear in aggregate, regardless which note they are created in, on your new Home screen. This does not replace my Toodledo task system. Instead, think of it like the Cornell note taking method where you might capture assigned deliverables while taking notes. Once captured, I can determine if they are a quick action or if they should be entered into my formal task management process.


Shortcuts

Specific notes, notebooks, and tags can be added to a Shortcuts section for quick and easy access. Great for notes pertaining to current projects.


Pinned notes

Another option for making relevant notes available on the Home screen and quickly accessible.


Scratch Pad

The Scratch Pad is a place you can quickly type, or copy/paste, text in order to capture it in the moment and later convert the information into a proper note, or have for quick reference and then delete when no longer needed.


Calendar widget

This is the most functional feature for me. This Home widget provides a view of the calendar entries assigned to the day being viewed. Each calendar associated with your Google calendar is available to be viewed on the widget (calendars can be selected/deselected within the settings). This includes my personal calendar, business calendar, iOS calendars, and Toodledo calendar feed since I subscribe to them all within a single Google account (multiple Google accounts require the Professional plan). For the current day, the selected calendar entries appear within the widget and contain a button that allows you to create a note that will be associated with that specific calendar entry. This is HUGE. A major challenge for many people is recalling notes for future meetings or events when the note was created days or weeks in advance.


In my Google Calendar, I have created a daily recurring event called Daily Journal. By setting it as an all day event, it remains in the widget throughout the entire day, instead of disappearing from the widget once the event time has passed. I use this to capture general notes, ideas, observations, and the like throughout the day. Additionally, any description details you add to your calendar event will also appear in the note that is created. You can include questions that help you reflect on the day, prepare for tomorrow, or anything else you find helpful. This has been a tremendous help in keeping my notes organized and ready for use when needed as part of my trusted system.


In Summary

The way these tools work together is a winning synergy for me. Using Google Calendar to pull all the calendars I use into a single location that then displays in Evernote, which allows me to create notes associated with these events and tasks is amazing. Similarly, using Pocket Informant to efficiently create and manage all my calendar events and tasks, viewing them in a functional interface that ensures I remain informed and aware of my daily activities, is equally amazing.


What have you found that provide you with similar interconnectedness for tying calendar/tasks/notes together?


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