The problem with Notion and Roam is aesthetics, and the design consequences. Notion looks polished, like a webpage. Roam’s thought graph looks like art. Apple Notes lacks features. Evernote has too many, which get in the way. If you use text expanders, keyboard navigation, or have browser extensions like Vimari or Vimium installed, then Drafts is the note system you should use.
The design choice of Drafts prioritizes keyboard input, usage, and output. Rather than a ‘How to…’ post for Drafts, this is my macro case for taking notes. There’s not much specific advice because keyboard-heavy-users will thread their own note system in no time.
Note everything. Any idea that comes up when watching, listening, or reading gets a note. Any bit of interestingness is a signal from the (sub)conscious that there’s a there there.
For instance, on the Circle of Competence podcast, Colin Keeley said that his first act after buying a business isn’t to swoop and poop but to conduct a sludge audit on the business’s processes as well as clean up marketing.
Swoop and poop is a great expression, so it gets a note.
Tag everything. Tags are the digital organizer, but unlike ‘sock drawer’, notes can be multiple things. Tags are the drawer. Which tags?
Medium. Tag notes by the content medium: book, YouTube, podcast, audiobook.
Person or podcast. These tags are good for searching but not important for the actual note.
Activity. This is the secret tip. The thing you’re doing will be a recall trigger. Some of mine are dog walk, run, home, and car.
Idea. It doesn’t have to be well thought out, sometimes looking back mine make no sense at all, but ideas like incentives, business model, and marketing are pretty common as well as more abstract ones like year (1980s, etc), nudge, numeracy, retail, and TiVo problem.
Learn Markdown. (for blogging) As someone who knows no other code – but has attempted many times! – Markdown is the no code code. Rather than ctrl-b for bold, it’s a double asterisk. Markdown is easy because of the repetition. There’s not that much html and it doesn’t take long to straighten out if the brackets or parentheses come first for a link.
Srsly. A more frequent meme than Mr. Wonka is the dating couple where one says to the other, I do have a blog/podcast/newsletter. That’s fair. But have one for you and your internet friends. Writing on the internet is a way to learn in public and writing is consistently praised as a great way to learn.
“For me, writing is an act of finding clarity and it’s an iterative act. You try to write. You realize don’t understand. You go back and try to figure it out. You try to write again. You realize you still didn’t figure it out. But it’s all a process of finding clarity.” – Bethany McLean
Share something. We’re out here together. Share the work.
Most things are not read. Write online and you soon find there is no connection between time plus interesting-to-you and page views. Fine. Page views aren’t an appropriate proxy for what we are doing. There are only two goals: learn yourself and contribute to the fat tail. Most of my internet searches end up in the fat tail part of the internet. Help me and future me’s and write online.
Notes are also crucial to the three ways to spend your day.