Well friends, it’s been a full six weeks of the same basic routine, day in and day out. How are you feeling over there?
Obviously, this has been hard in many ways. But I’m thankful that it’s been restful and revealing in other ways. And overall, I’ve come away surprised at the impressive change in behaviour on the global scale in such a short time. We all have different opinions about this entire situation, and all the related factors. But we managed to adopt a major change on the largest scale possible.
That gives me a lot of hope.
Well, that escalated quickly. I went from disinterested when I first heard about Roam from Drew Coffman, to mildly curious when I saw a lot of chatter about it, to pretty sold on the idea. I’ve been using it consistently for a little over two weeks and I can see it’s likely a better tool for creating a Zettelkasten than any other product I’ve explored.
But one aspect that has caught my attention is the community using the tool. It reminds me a little of the hype of Slack in its early days, or more recently, the hype surrounding Notion and Superhuman. The latter is likely the best example for one reason: it was designed targeted at a specific audience.
Superhuman is intended for one main purpose: making it easy for executives to get through their email quickly. Does that mean someone like myself can’t benefit? No, I’m sure its a great email client. But dealing with email isn’t a big problem for me, so I don’t fit the ideal user profile.
Roam is a little like that. On the surface, it’s a note taking tool that anyone could use in that capacity. But if you were looking for a similar alternative to Evernote or Bear or even Apple Notes, you might give Roam a quick look and think it’s a little odd. Maybe even lacking in some ways. But that would be missing the true purpose of this tool.
Anyway, I wasn’t intending to write about the app itself. Instead, it’s the community that caught my attention. It’s comprised of people from across a wide range of professions, but who all understand the value of connecting related thoughts. And they’re quick to help you get using the tools, even quicker to publicly sing its praises. There are all kinds of videos and community sites helping you make sense of how to benefit from what this product offers.
I’m currently working my way thought Nat Eliason’s Effortless Output with Roam course. That one makes the most sense, for that is exactly what Adler’s syntopical reading and Luhman’s Zettelkasten method are all about: output.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of tooling. Roam is different — it has functionality you can dig into, but it’s work to do so. The easiest thing is to just start writing, and the value builds over time.
That’s where I’m at currently. I use the Daily Notes to track my activity all day (something I did previously in Day One … and I export each day to ensure I have my notes if I decide to walk away from Roam), but have truly not jumped into it all the way.
But I can already see the connections growing.
Brenna Lowry from Doist hits a lot of nails on the head in this timely post. This encapsulates our current reality for me:
My daughter is napping now, so I could have 48 minutes or 3 hours to work on this draft. Let’s cut to the chase while we still can, shall we?
My children don’t nap any longer, but their ability to coexist without conflict or to stay on task is about as reliable as a newborn or toddler’s nap schedule. So we’re all a little more stressed and anxious right now. Margin is in short supply.
Let’s all take a deep breath together, shall we?
Rands is also addressing the current reality:
During these strange days, I appreciate the work, but the work is secondary to health. I invest daily in the big three: sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Each of these investments is a long term insurance policy. While it seems obvious, there is a fourth, and that is time. Precious quiet and brief time. Our minds need periods of time where there is no focus, we wander mentally, and we perform essential housekeeping on the intangible.
Failure to do, especially now, creates stress, and the last thing you need your life right now is more stress.
No kidding! It has been important to me to focus on the big picture activities. For our home, that means ensuring there is time out of the home, time spent outdoors, and time spent exercising our bodies. Apart from that, there’s an overall structure to each day that all other activities fit around (including school and work).
Speaking of activities that take place around the core items, this article is very prevalent for our home. Gaming gets a lot of focus. And while I don’t want to live in fear of things in and of themselves, I do want to live with wisdom.
I thought this interviewee on Desiring God did a great job of articulating a wise approach to gaming.
The first discipline is an ancient one. We must remember and help our children understand that nothing is without cost. We must count the cost (Luke 14:28). Every yes to one thing is a no to another. That’s why we can’t only think in terms of more dangerous versus more safe entertainment options. We must consider the happiness cost of entertainment. Like food or books, some entertainment options are better for us than others. But the go-to heuristic for Christians, who believe ultimate pleasure is found in God, should be this: How will this earthly pleasure advance my ultimate pleasure? And we want to help our children learn to do the same.
Well said. We spent several family devotion times reading through and discussing this article (much to our daughter’s chagrin — she’s completely disinterested in gaming). It was a timely topic!
There’s been a lot of Drew Coffman in here recently. That’s partly because we share similar interests, but it’s also due to his use of Roam (he’s writing a lot more). Anyway, he talks about Apple’s iPad Pro Magic Keyboard here.
Well, he refers to it, but spends most of his time talking about the original Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro.
The original Smart Keyboard was not a folio case like what we have today, instead it covered only the front of the screen and hid the keyboard away behind a fold. This fold was, weirdly, amazing. You would open up the keyboard with a flourish of the hand, popping the keyboard out and creating a little triangle tent on which the iPad would then stand firm, like a column on its pedestal.
And the best aspect of this tool?
I have nothing but the fondest memories for that keyboard. What I loved about it was the way in which any context felt possible. Did I want to write? I could write from anywhere! The couch, a desk, a coffee shop, an outdoor patio! Did I want to read? I could pull the iPad off the keyboard and, with a Pencil in my hand, take notes with ease! Did I want to lay in bed and watch YouTube? Sure, I could do that too! The original Smart Keyboard made changing contexts effortless. I never found myself worrying about whether or not I should change it up, I just did it.
This — and all the other articles about this recently — has caught my attention because I’ve just ventured back into the iPad realm after 5 or so years away from it.
We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis.
Julio Vincent Gambuto, Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting*
This relates to my comment on hope at the top. The biggest takeaway for me in our current time is that my hope lies behind the veil. That is, in Christ and his work. Safety and security in this world are frail at the best of times, and can be gone in an instant.
It’s been a great reminder that a solid foundation brings much peace in this temporal world.
Watching: Thanks to the purchase of a new phone, we have a free year of Apple TV+. Our family tried Ghost Writer, which is definitely a show that is appropriate for any age in your home. However, it wasn’t great — no one really enjoyed it.
But we started watching Home Before Dark this week, and we’re hooked. It’s definitely a little darker and not suitable for all ages (Apple lists it at 14+, but Common Sense Media puts it at 11+), but the quality is high and the story gets your attention right away.
Listening: A lot of instrumental music, because who needs more stress right now. Faster paced, loud music agitates me right now as I deal with constant interruptions in the work day. So stuff like The Undivided Five from A Winged Victory For The Sullen is getting a lot of plays.
Also, I’ve been enjoying some of the iOS apps focused on relaxation and focus. My current fave is Portal (Redwood National Park or Pacific waves) mixed with Noizio (city streets + birds in park), plus something very mellow and instrumental in the background has been the right mix for me.
And that’s it for this week. Please stay safe and give yourself some time to let your mind wander this week. I’ll be looking for chances to do the same!