An (almost) device-independent information capture and treatment workflow with Evernote and Omnifocus

The information capture problem

When I am reviewing the new articles which landed in my Google Reader of Fever feed (yes, I am experimenting with Fever for when Google turns off Reader’s lights) I often find myself saving articles to Instapaper. When I read them in Instapaper, I can easily transfer them to Omnifocus, but there I hit a snag … when I do that, it assumes I can go online and retrieve the article itself, because Instapaper only sends URL information to Omnifocus.

This works fine when I am online, but less so when I have no internet connection. And given that my work takes me to Africa from time to time, and that good internet connections in some parts of Africa are either non-existent or prohibitively expensive, I needed another solution.

Enter Evernote

Reeder, my application of choice for going through my RSS feeds, allows me to send articles to Evernote. Granted, I will need to open Evernote and download the articles onto my device, but when preparing for an audit, that is a standard practice. I make sure I have a local copy available on my system. Granted, I could achieve the same outcome with Instapaper, but it would cost me a lot more steps to do just that.

Linking Evernote to Omnifocus

I was not out of the woods yet. Because now I have these documents in Evernote, but how will I remember I need to do something with them? Enter Thanh Pham from AsianEfficiency, whom I discovered through Sven Fechner’s excellent and highly recommended blog “SimplicityBliss“, which is an essential read for any self-respecting GTD practitioner with a Mac. In this article, he links to Thanh Pham’s automated solution. I just set it up and configured it with no changes.

Whenever I go through Evernote now, and I find a document that needs a next action, I just tag it with a “review” tag. It gets linked to Omnifocus based on the Lingon Script that runs on a regular basis, and I have those links ready in Omnifocus when I need them.

There is an added benefit as well, which I only recently discovered: any links which I made on my iMac remain valid both on my Macbook Air which has a synced version of Omnifocus installed and, to my surprise, also on my iPad. I just navigate to the “notes” field, press on the link in the note field (an evernote:/// link) and if you press long enough, you get the option to open or copy. Pressing “open” launches Evernote and opens the document.

Thanks to both Sven and Thanh for the excellent developments that made my life so much easier.