September 21, 2016 by  Ashley Guberman

I started exploring 12-Week Mastery recently.
For those who are interested, this post is about my implementation notes.  Feel free to comment with further ideas if you’re familiar with the approach.

At this time, I’m just starting, and although the “paper” system looks OK, I live and die by Evernote and my Calendar. So I wanted a way to implement the 12-week system within Evernote.

Update: Evernote could not provide a grid view… skip to my Excel solution

12 Week Mastery with EverNote

For starters, I already had Evernote configured in accord with the principles of The Secret Weapon, which I understand comes from Getting Things Done.
Here are some additional tags I added:
  • .Status
    • ST.Abandoned
    • ST.Complete
    • ST.InProgress
    • ST.Planning
  • .Why
    • !Family
    • !Finance
    • !Fitness
    • !Marketing
  • .When
    • Week-01
    • Week-02
    •     …
    • Week-12
    • 0 – Committed
    • 1 – Now
    • 2 – Next
    • 3 – Soon
    • 4 – Later
    • 5 – Some Day
    • 6 – To Contact
The .Status tags are because Evernote does not really flag completion on its own, and I did not want to delete tasks when I was done with them.  The idea came from this discussion on the Evernote forum,   I wanted to keep tasks where they were for the sake of tracking and score-keeping (which I have yet to implement), but still have a way to get them out of the way.

The .Why tags hold my goals.  I have others, but the ones above are good for documentation.  All my goals start with !, but not every task for every goal is going to be part of my 12-week mastery process.  That was in fact part of my challenge… I have a boatload of tasks that I’m not ready to get rid of, yet still need a decent way of prioritizing (periodizing?) them for productivity.

The .When tags are exclusively for periodization and priority.  I already had some .When tags from The Secret Weapon (my tags starting 0-6), but these are outside the 12-week-mastery approach.  Fortunately, Evernote will let these systems interoperate as I learn the 12-week approach.
Next, I created some saved searches.  Personally, I think searches are the key to making Evernote work, and to use them well, you either have to understand Evernote’s Advanced Search Syntax, or you can use my cheat-sheets below.

!Goals - 12Week Pendingnotebook:"Actions Pending" -tag:ST.Complete tag:Week* tag:!*These are tasks that are on my 12-week plan (tag:Week*), and not yet complete (-tag:ST.Complete), and relate to my why/goals (tag:!*)
!Goals - 12Week Allnotebook:"Actions Pending" tag:!* tag:Week*These are tasks that are on my 12-week plan (tag:Week*), and relate to my goals (tag:!*)
!OneGoal - Pendingnotebook:"Actions Pending" -tag:ST.Complete tag:Week* tag:!OneGoalI have one of these for each of my 12-week year goals. Replace OneGoal with the individual goal tag. For any goal that I am managing on the 12-week process, i want to be able to pick actions not done yet and tackle them. But I only want those that are part of the 12-week year (tag:Week*), since I have far more tasks related to my goals than I am managing with this process.
Week-## Pendingnotebook:"Actions Pending" -tag:ST.Complete tag:Week-##I have one of these for each week in the plan. At the outset, it lets me review that I have my weeks balanced, and that each week takes care of multiple specific goals. It also filters OUT any task that are already complete. If I want to see all tasks for a week, including complete, I'll just click directly on that tag, rather than the saved search.

Recurring Actions

That looked like a decent structure, until I started dealing with my recurring tasks… how did I want to enter those for scoring, and without creating a large number of duplicate tasks?

Many of my actions are not things that are done once and complete – they are practices I wish to embody and habits that I wish to ingrain.

For those, I added a single task, put weekly check-boxes in the note, and tagged them with all the relevant Week-## tags so that they showed up more than once.

recurring activities

In the case of higher recurrence, such as exercising 4x/Week, I used a similar approach:

Exercise 4X per week

12 Week Mastery with Excel

I think if I fully planned everything for the 12-week year all at once, EverNote might work.  However, it lacks an ability to view the whole year at a glance in a grid-form.  For that, I went back to Excel, then added a few macros to make it easier for me to use.  The video below shows the highlights.  In particular:

  • Automated score-keeping in line with the 12-week-year approach
  • Visual overview of how I’m doing
  • Ability to see where tasks on a goal are light or heavy relative to other goals in any given week

It doesn’t say in the video, but note that the COLOR CODING IS KEY…  Pick the color you want to use for “complete” in D1, then any cell that color is automatically counted as complete.

Here’s a link to the as-is spreadsheet.  Note that you will have to ENABLE MACROS.


  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


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