Unlock Next Level Productivity In Tana with A Roam Research Like Sidebar

Ev Chapman
September 23, 2023

There is nothing more detrimental to finding flow in your digital systems than having to click around constantly to work on things.

It’s one of the main reasons I stopped using Notion. Everything was siloed. If I was working in my content hub, I couldn’t see my daily agenda easily. Too many of my most important things were out of site all the time.

This kind of task switching kills your flow & productivity instantly.

That’s why I created The Focus Sidebar in Tana

If you prefer watching videos - click play on the video below. Or keep scrolling to read the article

It’s an easy way to keep everything I reference throughout the day within easy reach. I use it to keep my agenda in focus throughout the day, work on notes side by side & keep ideas I want to marinate throughout the day in front of my mind.

My Focus Sidebar Lives Constantly On The Right Hand Side of my screen

Tana’s panel feature is perfect for bringing up two things side by side. Typically I have my Focus Sidebar open on the right hand side throughout the day and then I can navigate to wherever I need to in the main panel.

This means no jumping back into my day page to see my daily agenda, or check on my current Focus Sessions (how I track my time). I can easily keep the nodes I reference throughout the day in focus.

I tend to keep two kinds of notes in my Focus Sidebar:

Reference Items

These are items I reference constantly throughout the day & I want to see them all the time. Right now I have three reference items that I keep in focus.

1. My Focus Timer

This is a little tool I built to track my time in Tana. I simply enter what I’m working on in the Focus? Field and press Start Timer. The rest happens by magic through a Tana Command that inserts the current timestamp & changes the state to In Session.

The visual queue at the top of my sidebar is a great reminder of what I’m supposed to be working on at that particular time.

My Focus Timer sits at the top of the Focus Sidebar as a visual queue of what I’m supposed to be doing at that particular moment.

The Energy Meter

Energy has been a big focus for me lately. So I have a very simple ‘Energy Meter’ that sits in my Focus Sidebar where I can see at a glance what my latest energy level is.

My Energy Meter sits in my Focus Sidebar so I can track my energy level throughout the day.

My Daily Agenda

My daily agenda is my daily driver. It shows me what I’ve got on for the day, and helps me plan my work out so I don’t overschedule myself. I like having it in my focus sidebar because I can constantly see the red line move throughout the day so I stay focused on what I’ve set my intention to do that day.

My Agenda is my daily driver in Tana and sits constantly on the right so I can see what I have on for the day.

What you keep in your Focus Sidebar is up to you. I suggest thinking about the things you reference constantly. These might include:

  • The Inbox — Keeping it front & centre means it won’t get lost
  • Today’s Task List — So you can see what you have to do for the day
  • Any other Live Searches that you reference

Fleeting Items

Reference items live permanently in my Focus Sidebar. But I also use it for fleeting notes that I want to keep in my peripheral vision.

These are generally notes I want to keep a light focus on. Almost like a sticky note on the side of your computer.

Notes I keep in my peripheral vision in the Focus Sidebar are things like:

  • The current Content idea I’m working on
  • A Big projects that I haven’t quite figured out yet, but what to keep thinking about
  • Ideas, musings and anything else that needs a bit of wide open ‘thinking space.’
Anything I want to keep in the back of my mind to simmer on I put in my peripheral vision section in The Focus Sidebar.

Setting Up The Focus Sidebar In Tana

Honestly, this is one of the simplest setups that makes one of the biggest differences to finding your flow in Tana.

Here’s how to setup your own Focus Sidebar.

  1. Create a Node in your Home Node called ‘Focus Sidebar
  2. Pin it to your left sidebar (yes you heard me correctly, the left). That way you can access it easily.
  3. Anytime you want to bring up the sidebar go to your pinned nodes on the left and hold CTRL/CMD+Click the Focus Sidebar.
When you want to bring up your Focus Sidebar just go to your pinned nodes and hold down CMD/CTRL and click on Focus Sidebar.

That’s it! Now you have a sidebar you can put nodes in.

Next, it’s time to start filling it up.

  1. Start with your reference items — what items do you need to reference constantly throughout the day.
  2. As you find fleeting items you want to add just copy the node from wherever you are in your workspace and paste it at the bottom of your Focus Sidebar (it will paste in as a reference, so it stays in place where it should, but gets ‘referenced’ in the sidebar).

If you like this video and you want to get even more out of Tana, then check out my Tana Fast Track Course. Learn the fundamentals of working with Tana and the 6 Core Workflows to help you unload your thoughts & ideas, make room in your head to think & create and move through your day fully engaged & energised doing work you love.

Liked thIS? Then You Might Like My SPARK Newsletter...

The Spark Newsletter:
Turn Your Personal Knowledge Into Powerful Ideas & Increase Your Income, Opportunities & Authority.

Join 1200+ readers of The Spark Newsletter each Sunday learning how to leverage personal knowledge into powerful ideas.
Or Keep Browsing More Posts Like This...

Easy Mode Unlocked: The Ultimate Tana Starter Guide

Tana is one of the most powerful knowledge management tools I have used. But sometimes all those powerful features can overshadow just how simple it can be to get started. And I guarantee that most people are overthinking it from the very start.
Read post

Create A Custom Affirmations App In Tana: Step By Step Tutorial

Throw away your Affirmations apps & subscriptions and build your very own custom one in Tana
Read post

Unlock the Power of Tana Supertags: How To Organise Your Supertag Page

How to organise just about any kind of information in Tana using the Tana Supertag page
Read post

3 'No Fail' Ways To Start A Journalling Practice With Tana

I've always failed at consistent journalling... until I started using Tana. There is something special that makes Tana a perfect digital journaling app. But there is never just one way to start a daily journal practice. So in this video I wanted to give you 3 different ways that you might start a daily journaling practice in Tana.
Read post

The Ultimate Quickstart Guide For Getting Started With Tana

Learn how to effortlessly organise your thoughts & ideas with Tana
Read post

How I Turned Tana Into My Ultimate Writing App

A lot of people tell me you can't do long form writing in Tana. I tend to disagree. Here's how Tana enhanced my writing workflow & why I can't imagine writing in any other app now.
Read post