Tana 101

by Andre Foeken
This page contains a collection of my latests threads on Twitter and LinkedIn for Tana Beginners. Please follow me there for more Tana tutorials and tips, or check out my many YouTube videos.


When my role first grew out of what I could comfortably keep in my head, I was always worried I was missing something. Simply writing things down helped, but what I ready needed was a reliable personal productivity process I could trust.
At the beginning, I kept overcomplicating it. Keep it simple. Write stuff down, periodically go over what you wrote. Repeat.
Using a tool helps, but it’s not a golden bullet. If you pick a tool, stick with it, unless you really feel it is missing something. Look for a tool that can help you capture, structure, and retrieve with ease.
I will be posting a series of threads of how I use Tana to capture notes and tasks throughout my meeting-heavy days, and have it surface them at just the right time.
Combined with some weekly and daily rituals, this keeps me sane and (mostly) on top of things.

Getting Started with Tana

When you just get started, Tana offers little structure. It is a blank canvas. In its base, it is an outliner. This means you take notes as lists of bullets, which you can nest below each other.
Usually nested notes are related to each other.

Before Tana, I used a plain outliner. And I would put my to-do’s in a different application, so I would not forget them and have them together.
I tended to lose a lot of context and slowly my lists overwhelmed me.
With Tana, I can capture my to-do’s while I am typing, by tagging them. Simply type #todo after any line, and it will be labelled as such. These are called Supertags.

The benefit of capturing to-do’s with my notes is that I can still retrieve their context (even if I describe them poorly).
Each to-do is connected to the lines above, and to the date it was captured.

Building your first to-do list

Having lists of things to do in Tana is great, but even better would be to actually have them as checkboxes you can check off one by one.
Right click your to-do Supertag, click “Configure tag”, and a panel appears to your right. This panel unlocks a lot of powerful features.

By clicking “Show as checkbox”, you will add a checkbox in front of each of your to-do’s and you can get that dopamine kick right there and then.
Generally, I would like to only show the to-do’s I haven’t completed in my list, so let’s tackle that.
Click “Edit query” on the search results, and the query editor shows. This one can be a bit overwhelming, but for now, let’s keep is super simple.
Click “Search Operators”, and scroll down, click “NOT DONE”, and click the green “Done” button.

Instead of offering one way to structure, Tana offers building blocks allowing you to shape it to your needs. I think this is why it is so addictive, you can keep exploring and refining.

Don’t overdo it though. Especially in the beginning, take small steps, do not over-structure, but also don’t worry to play and experiment! Have fun!

Setup Tracking meetings

I mostly use Tana to capture meeting notes and to-do’s, in my last few threads, I showed how to setup a basic to-do system. Let’s dive into meetings this time.
We start by tagging each meeting with #meeting, simply type it and create the tag.

After tagging your first meeting, you can tag the others without having to create the tag again. I always start by just taking notes, this way I sort of find out what I want to structure and what I don’t really need.
For a meeting, I always want to note who I met with.
In Tana there is a concept of fields. Fields store values connected to a tag. In this case, I want to add an “Attendees” field.

Start any line with a “>” character to add a field. Then type the name of the field, and add it. Here I choose to create a new “Attendees” field.
Adding a field this way, simply adds it to the place I type it. But, I want it to always be there when I use the #meeting tag. Click the ✨ icon next to the field, to promote it to a field on the tag.

After this, each meeting will now have an “Attendees” field, and we can start filling it!

I will now add the name of the person I met with in the “Attendee” field.
You can now proceed to add fields for anything you feel that is valuable to track with a meeting. I use “Date” and “Topic” among others. But it is up to you, this is where you can make Tana your own!

Meetings, To-Do’s, and People

My personal productivity system in Tana is based on three pillars: #meeting, #todo, and #person. In my last few threads we created the first two, now let’s see how we add the last one.
We start by tagging our attendee as a #person.

Now that we have people, I’d like to make it easy to attendees. To do this, right click the “Attendees” field and select “Configure field”.
Change the field type to “Instance”, and set instance supertag to “person”. This tells Tana the attendees field expects people.

Now, when you type a name in the attendees field, it automatically suggests tagging it as a person. And, when it recognises an existing person, it will auto-complete it. Magic!
I will show later, why tagging people is useful in other ways!

Setting Up Multiple Types of Meetings

Building on my Tana productivity system, I have noticed I have several types of meeting. I do 1-1s, job interviews, and personal development meetings.
Each have their own specific qualities.
I like to name all my 1-1 meeting the same. Usually something like “1-1 with {name}”. Let’s see how we can save some typing in Tana.
First, I will add a new tag called “1-1”

Then I will remove the meeting tag, by hovering over it and pressing the “X” that shows up. Here you see that the “Attendees” field turns grey.
This means that it is no longer part of the “1-1” tag, but Tana never removes any information. Feel free (and safe) to play around.

Right-click the “1-1” tag, select “Configure tag”, and then in the right panel: click “Extend”, and type “meeting”.
This tells Tana, that a “1-1” is a type of “meeting” and it will inherit all of its fields. This is really powerful to build your own structure.
Now, I want to customize the title of all my 1-1 meetings to look the same. In the right panel, click “Build title from fields” and type the name you want. You can add the value of any fields using the format in the helper text.

Using title expressions in Tana is an amazing way to create consistency and structure, as an added bonus: it saves a lot of typing!

Structuring Your Day Tag

During a normal day, I usually track the tasks I want to work on, the meetings I had, and some random notes outside of meetings.
The normal day page in Tana is a blank canvas. Let’s change that.
You might notice each day is automatically tagged with the “day” tag. This is a supertag just like the ones we created before and can be edited.
Let’s add some fields to start. On the top of the page, start typing a new line and start with “>” to create two fields.
I added a field for “Tasks” and “Meetings”, this allows me to keep things neatly organised. Similarly as before, creating the fields on the page does not “link” them to the “day” tag, so we need to click the ✨ icon next to it to promote them to fields on the day tag.

Now every day forward will have this structure and I can move my things in. Ahhh, structure.

Track Recurring Topics in Meetings

During meetings, I often discuss similar topics and I want information to carry over. For instance, status updates and tasks on projects for instance.
In Tana, you can get a clear overview of everything that was discussed and when it was discussed. Let’s set this up.
Say, I am in the kick-off meeting for Project X. This is probably the first time I am discussing it, so Tana does not know about it yet.

This links the “Project X” to the sentence in my meeting. When you go to the project, below the page you can see “References”. In this section, you can see every time Project X has been mentioned.
This is an amazing way to keep an overview of all pieces related to Project X.

Even better, it will search through your entire Tana workspace and check if you mentioned Project X before (and didn’t link it). You can easily link it with a single press of a button.

Now, if you mention the same project again in a future meeting, you can quickly ‘mention’ it by starting to type with the @ sign.
And, if you open the project, you will see both mentions of the project, and it’s easy to identify when and where it was mentioned.

Configuring Supertags and related searches

Setting Up Multiple types of To-Do’s

As I am going through my meetings, I gather a lot of to-do’s. Some are mine, others are discussion points, or things I have asked others.
I have several types of to-do’s in Tana: #todo, #delegated, and #discuss
If you have been following along, you might have guessed it. Delegated, and Discuss are both extensions of the todo supertag.
After creating the new supertags, configure them, change their color, and make them extend “todo”. As you extend the tags, they inherit the ‘checkbox’.

Previously, we created a search node with all my to-do’s on the day page. Let’s go there and see them all together.

In order to get some more structure, I want to group them by tag. You can disable the category without tags, and you are left with a nice grouped overview.

Adding Icons to Your Meetings, To-Do’s, and People

One of the best new features of Tana, is the ability to add icons to specific nodes and types of nodes. Go to the Supertag, click “Set icon” in the header.
Visual structures help a lot with making things clear and easy to parse.

Adding icons for specific nodes and Supertags is one of the ways to make Tana feel like yours, and has replaced most of my previous use of custom CSS!
💡 Want to know the secret way to make your Tana look like mine? Follow me, and send me a DM! 🤫

Enabling AI Features

Today, I will show you how to enable AI features in Tana. Though this is labeled as AI for Builders, the power of them are too good to not use for general users too. But they do require a bit of setup. Let’s get started.
First, enable AI for builders in Tana Labs.

For the AI features, you will need an Open API account. Head over to https://platform.openai.com and Sign-Up.

Then, head over to API-keys in the side menu, verify your phone nr, and create an API key for Tana. Note that new users, get 25$ of credit, which should last you a long time.

Next copy the secret key, and head back to Tana, press CMD+K (or CTRL+k on Windows) on any empty line, and type “Set OpenAI API Key”, and paste the key in the panel on the right.

To test if it works, start any line with “AI:” and type a question, and click the ✨ Ask AI button.
The power of having AI at your fingertips is just the start of great things to come.

Upgrading Your To-Do Lists with AI

Weekly and Daily Rituals to Keep on Track

Integrating Your Calendar with Tana

Structuring Fields in Your Supertags

Setting up AI suggested To-do’s

Coming soon, follow me on Twitter for the latest updates.

Automating actions with Commands

Using AI enhanced fields for smart suggestions

Quickly create custom AI commands

Standard non-generic sub-tasks for To-Do’s

Setting up custom keyboard shortcuts

Coming soon, follow me on Twitter for the latest updates.
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