For a while I was flirting with the idea of unified knowledge dashboard where you could have everything accessible at your finger tips. A system where all your work is neatly tied together and helps you reduce friction and get more things done.
Before we start, check wether you have the following:
- OS X powered computer
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s start. You might find ideas in this article appealing, even if you don’t have OS X and iOS, but I am not sure how would I implement them on the other platforms. If you come up with ideas of your own, I would encourage you to leave them in the comments.
URL Schematics The invisible string that ties all your knowledge and work together
OS X and iOS are famous for their URL schematics for inter-app communication. This means that this schematics are used by applications themselves in order to communicate better between each other, and help you get more things done. On Apple platform there are literally millions of endless combinations that you can build from there. (Bonus points if you use Automator and Apple script).
So imagine, instead of opening the app, and getting to it’s home screen, you get to click on the URL schematic, which will take you to the specific area of your application. For example, you can use URL schematic to leverage Instagram, and instead of your first step being Instagram home feed, it can take you directly to camera, without you having to have additional click.
Now this is just an example of what URL schematics do. Now let’s get to something little bit more useful:
Evernote has URL schematics integrated up to a certain point. If I wanted to access a specific note, without using the search, or if I wanted to access a specific note and access it through the file that I am currently working on, I will use URL schematics as a way of bookmarking notes (bonus points if you plan on using Launch Center Pro).
I hope this sheds a bit more light on what URL schematics are, and what they can do for you.
What is knowledge management?
I’ve been talking previously about knowledge management, and went in the details in that blog post. But to sum it up, knowledge management is an easy way to store and access the information of organization into one single place. Knowledge database is ever growing, and without the proper tools, this library of knowledge can become more of a pain, than it is the gain.
While knowledge management is often used in reference to companies who acquire a lot information throughout the short periods of time, personal knowledge management is very different, and as the name implies it’s personal. Your needs are very different than the needs of the large institution, so you need a light tool. Basic tool that can create simple wiki’s for your own private use. Evernote fits into this role perfectly. Main reason why am I promoting it, is the fact that it is free. It’s entry barrier is slim to none, so you have no excuse not to start organizing your knowledge.
How to blend your tasks and reference material
Two biggest tools in CORE system are task manager and reference materials storage. Having a way for the two of these to communicate effectively is giving that fine extra touch to your productivity. (Silent tip for those who are stuck on Windows – I’ve heard that IQTELL is having something similar to this, created as a web tool ;))
URL schematic links of Evernote are working on iOS and OSX. So having a task manager that performs on both platforms well, will make your Evernote links work everywhere, and allow you to go back and fourth between your reference material, and your task manager.
Bonus for productivity Nerds
Now if you are true productivity nerd you should consider Text Expander snippets, that will allow you to copy and paste the links that are pointing to specific projects in Evernote / task manager, thus allowing you to interlink with even greater speed and efficiency.
Task manager that I am using supports url schematics as well, so if I am working in a note, I can link it to the task, so when I complete it, I can hop on to the task itself, and check it off as completed.
Merging your Contacts app and Evernote
The same way you are handling your wiki’s, I took that approach and took it to the next level with my contacts. This way when I talk with someone, instead of opening Evernote and searching for “their note”, all I need to do is go to spotlight, type in their name (or tell Siri to do it), and instead of their website it will contain their Evernote note link.
Now each important person in my life has it’s own “wiki – whois” note. It can also contain the task manager link to that person’s context, and remind me of all the tasks that I am waiting for that person to complete.
How to leverage spotlight on iOS
For quite some time, I’ve been tempted to move on to iOS notes, because of speed of access to the information you put in there. But the lack of ORC and other awesome functionality always swayed me off from native iOS Notes. Not even the Mac version helped me jump the ship.
This way I successfully avoided using Evernote’s search engine on iOS, when it’s not necessary. Spotlight is instant, and nothing beats instant.
This is especially important for people who are still on the slower iOS devices that don’t have enough of RAM (iPhone 4, iPod touch).
The access to your content is one of the most important things you need to speed up, in order to make the most usage of your “external brain”. The functionality I’ve adopted here over time, is worthy even after a lengthy Evernote break. But stay put, because we’re still at the very basic level here.
For most people, having a knowledge dashboard is way, way, way an overkill. But once you get caught up in far too many projects and your brain can’t handle that, it’s time to get things together and organize them in a single coherent database that just makes sense.
In the upcoming weeks, I’ll start mind mapping more frequently and more vigorously. Having the heavy visual component to my notes is going to redefine the way I think once again. Structured approach, with complete creative freedom. And I’ll be waiting for you, on the other side…