Notes on Note-taking
I hope you had a great weekend! I took some time to enjoy the weather, even though it was raining heavily.
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For the longest time, I've been trying to do something with all the notes I take. Migrating from Evernote to Bear, to Drafts, to Notion, to Roam, to Obsidian, you name it, I've tried it.
Seeing too many productivity videos on YouTube left me wanting to gather all my notes in a "digital garden," using "tools for thought" and all those fancy terms.
In practice, I write a lot; I used to have Post-its around my desk, then I changed to notepads and later evolved to fancy notebooks with my BuJo practice.
Last year, my wife gifted me a Remarkable 2 tablet for Christmas, which is pretty much a fancy digital notebook.
Having my notes be in digital form, even hand-written, had me thinking of how to move these notes to my note-taking app of choice.
I created PDFs from the daily notes I took and stored them. But in general, I don't have a natural inclination to go back and sort through them or look at some random thought from 2 years ago (even though those are there).
Information Architecture of Notes
While I enjoy information architecture at work, it was too much effort on the personal side.
In practice, all these content creators talk about notetaker archetypes, e.g., Architects, Gardeners, and Librarians.
Sorting through topics of interest, book highlights, and blog posts is a lot of work!
I want a file to write down my thoughts and the final version when writing these newsletters. I don't assemble them with past information.
Even though things I've experienced, read, or heard are what drive these ideas that become the newsletter!
Writing is thinking
While going back and forth between note apps and feeling guilty that I wasn't producing things from my notes, I slowly realized that I need writing to think clearly and see things through.
I wasn't using them for more output, but thinking through writing improved my outcomes.
I journal when feeling overwhelmed; I draw quirky diagrams to explain stuff and write short sentences to express fleeting thoughts.
Divergence and Convergence of Thoughts
One concept I encountered during this soul-searching was convergent and divergent thinking.
It seemed a natural fit for my work; I had my divergent phase while writing, drawing, and doodling. Possibilities are endless, and "it depends," as we like to say in engineering.
Later on, I converged those thoughts, given the clarity of the prior exercise.
This happened multiple times a day, in fast iteration in some cases.
Writing is all you need
I stopped feeling bad about not being more "formal" with my notes and started using them as they felt more natural to me.
I want to eventually improve this more because I want to generate more thorough newsletter issues, take more formal research, etc.
But also because I want to be productive enough not to write down my thoughts every weekend and instead manage to create some space for me not to rush every week.
Are you using tools for thought? Are you into the PKM trend? What are your thoughts on note-taking or writing as thinking? Let me know by replying to this email!
Things I discovered in the past week
- How to write great tech specs takes us through the journey of how to create great design documents. Something which we sometimes need help to do in our organization!
- Legacy Seam In another excellent blog post, Martin Fowler explains "seams" with some examples. Seams were introduced earlier in Michael Feathers' book.