Am I using it wrong?

I’ve been using Agenda as my main note taking app for my job for two years, and I’ve come to the conclusion I’m either using it wrong, or it’s not for me. Because it has become this black hole I put things in, but never easily get anything out. I want it to be my second brain, but can’t seem to organise it that way.

I’m a project manager, overseeing a team of people, a lot of big and smaller projects, leading a task force, I have weekly meetings that crosscut all kinds of topics, … In Agenda I have created 32 Projects for each project, main office stuff and several various topics. I use @people tags, hashtags and checkboxes.

  • On The Agenda: I never got the hang of this functionality because I consider all my notes to be relevant, and I never check them off. Especially as there are frequently todos in notes that linger on. Also, there’s no easy way to add/remove multiple notes at once to the Agenda, according to some criteria. I guess that’s my biggest Agenda misuse?

  • Link to events: If a note is linked to a future meeting (usually meeting minutes), I assign it to that future event, but I don’t get much out of that, except that the note pops up in Today when the meeting is there. There’s no use for that afterwards. So linking notes to events feels like a gimmick for me, a todo rather than actually being useful. (Also, the calendar/event selector is not that easy to search and use.) Am I missing something here as it seems the main selling point of Agenda?

  • Search: is frustrating to use as it never shows the results I expect. I guess this is a consequence of not using “On the agenda”? Because the search function returns results according to project, not date. It would be so great to have search results sorted by date. And allow to narrow/expand the search scope on the fly.

  • Crosscutting stuff: I have meetings on 1 project (great!) but a lot of meetings touch on multiple projects. In that case I could try to create multiple notes in each Project, but that’s not easy, so I typically add those notes to another Project (lets say “steering committee”), but then it loses any link with the actual projects. When I’m navigating the actual projects, I can’t see any reference to what was discussed in the Steering Committee. It would be great when I add a link to a Project in a steering committee note, automatically a back link would be available in that project. Does that make sense?

  • Inbox: I miss a dedicated inbox, similar to what Things has to put stuff in you need to organise later.

I guess I could fix some of my issues by adding a lot more manual stuff to my notes (links,back-links, tags, …) but I don’t have time for that. Maybe the future auto-complete function could be of help here? And maybe in my case there’s no frictionless note taking and I need to invest more time in it. Or I need to reorganise everything.

Any thoughts? Sorry for the long post :wink:

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I think of this as stuff I want to access fast and often for the coming days. Eg. You are working on stuff for a particular client. You put the relevant notes on the agenda, so you can find them very fast. I spend 90% of my time in On-the-Agenda. I really only go out of it to get more stuff on the again :slight_smile:

Everyone is different. I don’t use it much either, but if you use your Calendar a lot, having links to and from the calendar can help navigate a lot. And creating new events from Agenda too.

We have plans to have a major overhaul of Search in the near future. Hopefully that will help.

The “Related Notes” should help here, especially if you tag things. And we have some improvements coming there too, related to Back links.

We considered it, but it is just as easy to make one yourself. Just make a category “General” at the top, and a project “Inbox”. If you select that project the first time you use our sharing sheet, it will also remain selected, so it becomes a place to quickly add new things.

I think it will. Tags will get a lot more powerful.

Others may have ideas about approaches to organization.

Kind regards,
Drew

I work with a lot of projects and tags works perfect but my advice is u need a methode how you want to use tags in your project. For me it is the GTD (getting things done) methode.

I think the useful part of Agenda is the On My Agenda. But, you need to diligently have a system to make sure the On The Agenda does not become a black hole of all notes.

As Tiago says, when everything is important, then nothing is important.

If you have a meeting coming up, and want to use all other notes on separate notes from other project, then you can use the on the agenda tab.

Or, you can have a saved search called #focus or anything else, then type #focus for any related notes.

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Product manager here - I feel like I’ve been through a similar “am I using this right?!” crises… but I think I’ve got something pretty workable. I like to think of Agenda as my ‘logbook’ of conversations, meetings, decisions, next steps, etc. Todo’s end up in Things 3 and reference/research materials that’s project agnostic usually go to Bear - but both will often start in Agenda.

I also have 10+ concurrent projects and frequent meetings that touch on multiple projects. Agenda handles this pretty well:

On The Agenda:
The powerful features here are:
A) View a selection of notes from multiple projects at once
B) Adding and editing new notes to any project, without leaving the current view.

So, if in Meeting 1 I want to review a note from Project A and Project B with the team, I add them to “On The Agenda” (CMD+SHIFT+U). Once in the meeting, if Project C also comes up, I click the plus icon from the On The Agenda view and add a new note to Project C. Wonderfully, it shows up right in the Agenda view, so I can jot down updates on the project - but they will still live in Project Cl.

Link to Calendar
If I’m organized enough and remember… at the end of the meeting I’ll:

  1. Select all the notes On the Agenda (CMD+A)
  2. Click the meeting in the calendar side bar
  3. Click “Link X Notes to Event”

This way each meeting note is not only in their project folder - but If a month from now I say “What did we talk about in Meeting 1?” - I can scroll back to the meeting in the Calendar sidebar, and view those notes.

What I would love to see is an “On The Agenda” view tied to a calendar event, so I could view a meeting’s notes (from multiple projects) all together. Or prep a meeting’s agenda from multiple projects. @drewmccormack

I’ll then add all my action items from those notes to Things. (I rarely use the Reminders integration, even though it imports to Things. It’s just a bit clunky and doesn’t add much value).

Inbox and Search
Inbox: I’ve found it’s easiest to have a single inbox across all apps… in my case, Things works best. It has system-wide quick add, now supports markdown, and is SUPER fast. Unfortunately I don’t think Agenda is nearly fast enough to serve as an inbox.

Search: Totally agree with you here… I never get what I expect when searching.

Hope this helps!

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I am not the OP, but have a similar feeling. I would love to hear more about how you have Agenda set up, as I was also hoping to use it primarily as a log of contact meetings. Is each contact a project or a tag? I do consulting so I have lots of contacts both within the organization and as clients, and meetings with all of them.

I bought Agenda and got frustrated with how to use it and so haven’t been. I am just making meeting notes in OneNote and to-dos in Things.

If you have time, it would be great to hear about your project / tagging system.

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I have heard from many people who have clients that it works well to have one project per client. When you have a new meeting with them, you can very easily scroll back in time to see what you talked about last time, or check action items.

It is also a good idea to have a “future” or “next” note in each client project. You put that there for things you want to discuss next time you see them. It is a place to put things so you don’t forget them, and it sets the agenda for the next meeting. @mekentosj is a big proponent of this approach. In fact, Agenda was originally envisaged to only support this approach. We made it more general after initial feedback.

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I have similar role dynamics as OP and ran into similar problems when using Agenda at scale. Specifically, after accumulating several hundred tasks scattered across more than a hundred notes in dozens of projects Agenda provides no easy way to find all open tasks and that situation was contributing to the risk of something falling through the cracks instead of helping me avoid it.

I tried numerous suggested approaches including tags, using embedded reminders instead of tasks but ran into problems with each workaround. Other suggested solutions revolved around not using Agenda as the all-in-one solution that made it attractive in the first place. I finally suggested feature improvements but these were determined to be out of scope or not on the horizon.

In the end I moved away from Agenda to a less feature-rich app that delivers the core integrated notes-tasks-calendar features that I need for the scale I operate at. I use this app for my daily note taking, project and task management and use Agenda for those occasions when I have to compose a complex note for export. However, I do check on agenda feature updates from time to time because it does so many other things extremely well and I am hoping it can one day be the all-in-one solution I’m looking for.

exactly my experience as an academic, I am playing around with Agenda as an adjunct Things 3. Nice linkage across via reminders. Just wish the linkage was faster and more direct.

Search/filtering improvements have been on our roadmap for a while. These would allow to see or search for open tasks. It is an important project for us, but it is also a vast project. Hopefully we will get to it sooner rather than later, and can win you back!

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That’s a really interesting approach. Thanks for sharing.