Contacts, tagging and Agenda as CMS

I’ve been using Agenda as a lightweight CMS for a while. I’ve tried other solutions but none really work for me: I don’t want another application or service to deal with, and my needs for a CMS fluctuate wildly depending on what big projects I’m working on, I don’t have a fixed pipeline, it’s more a question of keeping track of potentially useful conversations.

Now I’ve been doing this for a while (6 months? A year?), it’s a bit messy and I’m wondering how I could develop my work flow.

Essentially my system is:

  • when prospecting I create a dated note for each meeting/call with a person, placed in a Project called People.
  • In the note I include the name in the format @FirstLast, and tags like #prospect #journalist along with notes about the meeting, and any follow up actions.
  • when I have follow up meetings, I create a new dated note for each meeting. Each time I include the person tag, though generally not the other tags unless their status changes or I learn more about them that’s relevant.
  • if the conversation develops into a potential piece of work or collaboration, I create a new Project in a Category “prospective projects”. I’ll move relevant meeting notes out of People into this new Project. In due course this may turn into a piece of paid work and the Project moved to the category “active projects”.

At the same time I’ll be having meetings etc with other contacts and collaborators relating to a variety of existing projects. In all cases I use the person tag for every person mentioned in any note. (Subject to remembering complex spelling - tag browser please!)

Also, if I’m at a networking event etc, I create a note for the event and include tags for everyone I’ve spoken with)

This all means I can:

  • search on a person tag to see all interactions
  • keep an eye on related notes to see unexpected connections
  • search on #lead etc to look for opportunities to follow up

There’s a couple of areas where this system is weak and I’d appreciate suggestions:

I may end up the a number a notes relating to one person, because I want a dated note for each meeting. But their status, lead, prospect etc, may change. This means a search on those tags will throw up out of date results. I could go back through old notes and edit the tags, or I could create a ‘master note’ for each person and keep that up to date. But both involve extra steps that I’m likely to let slip.

Any ideas?

Also, I don’t have a consistent system for keeping in touch with contacts I want to maintain a relationship with. (Where I’m exploring something with a prospect it’s fine, I use tags #priority, #soon or specific due dates). But for keeping in touch with leads that may come alive again after a while, I can’t settle on a system that seems right.

I could use a specific due date /due(6 months). But I’d really like to be able to batch these follow ups when they come due. IE I don’t want them trickling onto my to do list every few days. I’d rather have a batch of follow ups to process so I can see plan a morning or whatever working on these.

I imagine a Boolean search on tags could help, but we don’t have that yet.

One way might be to only set due dates for this type of follow up on dates that are multiples of, say ten: due(10 Jan) or due(20 feb). This would create batches. This idea has only just come to me as I write this! I rather like it! Any other suggestions?

You didn’t ask about this specifically, but you might consider creating a project for each of these, rather than notes within a single project. The reason is that you can get a better picture of the relative activity of each prospect, order them by interest / however else, etc.

I am a big fan of the “master note” approach. I like keeping records of what actually happened, so I don’t revise the details of old meeting notes other than to clean them up, correct misinformation, etc. But the main note gives me a current overview of what’s going on - and I update that as new information comes in.

Agenda has a cool tag searching feature where you can search for #due(1 week) and it will find any notes that are due within the next week, or earlier (essentially date-based tag search means find all notes that are tagged earlier than this date). So you can freely set due tags #due(6 months) and not worry about what day it falls on - no need to settle on the 10th or 20th of the month - and have an overview of #due(1 week) that will show you any notes that are coming due this week. So Monday morning you’ve got your batch of prospects to follow up with ready to go. More may trickle in over the next few days as you point out, but you can either simply flag the batch as OTA, or assign another more specific tag to them, assign the notes to the day you intend to work on them, etc.


I actually use it as a makeshift CRM as well. But Im not totally satisfied with my process either. I will agree with what Pat mentioned, in that I make each prospect or account its own project.
As far as reminders go, I actually use Todoist, instead of Agenda. I wish I could keep it all in one place, but I couldnt figure a way to do it effectively.

I’ve been experimenting a bit. I like the idea of a “master note” for contacts and have started using it as the place to gather contact and background info , and a “next action” note with (Agenda) due date.

I’m also creating a project for a contact, but only if the first meeting leads to further discussion etc - ie the lead becomes a prospect.

However I also have meetings with stakeholders etc for a variety of work projects, so these notes need to be in the relevant work project Project. But I will start creating Master notes for these too.

The fact that the notes with one person may be spread over different projects isn’t a big issue as it’s easy to gather them all by clicking on the tag #FirstnaneLastname that I use in every note.

I think the challenge with due dates, for me anyway, in Agenda is

  1. Using short life projects and arching once finished
  2. Using master notes to summarise next actions - and paying attention to these when searching
  3. getting into the habit of checking every day for upcoming due dates (I have saved overviews “due in 7 days” “due in 2 days”

I also that it’s crucial to plan and review in Agenda everyday. I’ve got a template set up for my daily Journal note, where I do this, and I work from this through the day.

I’ve learned from experience that if I don’t bother, telling myself I know I need to work on Important Project X without checking Agenda for a few days, it’s soon chaos!

Years ago I used Things. The problem I had then was I just kept adding Tasks to projects without reviewing regularly. And although the tasks were recorded, if I didn’t review and plan, I still ended up problems, in this case just feeling overwhelmed.

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As a fervent OmniFocus user of the first hour, it was exactly this that made me search for another app (and eventually finding Agenda). I was using many other apps; to run a pipeline in, to draft proposals, keep stuff to refer to, links, ideas, recipes etc. etc. Agenda gives me the opportunity to keep (almost) everything in one place.

I wrote about how I use Agenda here: The Eisenhower Method

Since I wrote that, nothing too much changed, except that I ditched TextExpander altogether now because of Agenda’s Templates - links to contacts in CardHop I now make with Apple’s own text replacement.

Tasks with deadlines in my system have exactly that: deadlines, #expires(today). Just like Pat Maddox wrote.

They’re also tagged with an Eisenhower category. Saved-overviews of those, I can easily search on expiration dates.

Prospects - for me - are not projects as such. A project is something I work on together with a client. So as soon as contacts go from “suspect” to “prospect” etc to becoming a client, they get their own project. “Acquisition” as such is a project, though.

I like it a lot, not to only see what is to be done but see contexts as well. It sort of keeps me extra engaged to what I’m doing.

Hope this was useful,


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Tell us more! How does this work?

CardHop lets you copy url’s to its “contact-cards”. Settings, on iOS and MacOS (under “keyboard”) enables text replacement.

So in Settings -> keyboard, “John Smith” I give the - to be replaced - “text” jsmt. The replacement text itself would be [John Smith]( the CardHop url ).

So whenever there’s a to-do that involves contacting John Smith, I type jsmt, which then expands into the clickable full name of John Smith.

If John Smith is mentioned in a note but without the necessity to contact him, I use @jsmt, which expands into … Well, you get the picture.