I’d written a post on the race to be the next Prime Minister of the UK, but frankly, I've lost interest. I just can’t be bothered.
My procrastination method of choice currently is noodling about with note-taking, or -making. I have just read Building a Second Brain, by Tiago Forte. As the title suggests, Tiago posits that effective notes can and indeed should act as a second brain. It’s an interesting read. I recommend it.
The focus of the book is on the method - not the tools; but inevitably my fascination with both analogue and digital kit draws me back into an exploration of how best to keep my notes.
My love for the analogue manifests through notebooks, paper, pens and pencils, and it is undiminished. I work things out by writing them down. I write letters. I also keep notes - but when it comes to archives, notebooks are, well, a bit cumbersome. The search function - though fun, is hardly efficient. Flicking through a notebook is not the quickest way to find any specific thing. Syncing, is frankly, crap. What I write in my notebook, does not appear on my computer, nor in my phone.
Digital notes lack the aesthetic appeal of pen and paper, but they are really good at all those functions above. So for studying, for researching and for writing, there’s a lot to be said for digital notes.
Way back when, I got into a thing called Evernote. I saved websites, pictures, e-mails, notes, EVERYTHING in Evernote. It was awesome. Thing is - I had no system or method. I saved things there and never looked at them again. I was digitally hoarding. Entirely pointless.
Of late - I have been using Obsidian. It’s built on simple Markdown files, kept on my computer. There’s a very clever “linking” system, where I can connect my notes to one another. In fact, Obsidian is extremely powerful, and with enough motivation one can make it do all manner of things. It’s on the techie side, in that with some knowledge, it is very customisable, but it’s not necessarily immediately accessible to those of us who don’t count themselves as digital natives.
Notes apps are flavour of the month - and there are a lot of them about. One, called Roam, considers itself almost a cult (I’m only half-kidding). Then, there’s Craft, which I’m looking at. Craft HQ is in Hungary, which appeals to me, and is apple-centric. It aims to be a polished app, accessible to all. The “under the hood” stuff is accessible, but people like me don’t need to look at it. Notion is another tool that turns its hand to many things - but again, for me, it requires more initiative than I’m prepared to invest.
At the moment, I’m looking at NotePlan, which I can access through Setapp (so, I already pay for it). This ties Markdown note-making into task management and a calendar too. I’ve been working without a task manager, setting daily intentions with notecards. This has been great, other than it means I simply ignore everything that I don’t want to do. Whoops.
Where I’ll end up - who knows? I acknowledge that this is more of a distraction than anything else, but trying tools does make me think about what I’m doing, and why - and that, I think, is valuable.
It strikes me, that I consider an exploration of tools for making notes less boring than the contest for Prime Minister. I’m not sure what that says about me - but I’ve a good idea what it says about the state of UK politics.
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