One of my many challenges has been how to keep track of everything, my thoughts, my readings, my to-do list … if it’s not written down or noted in some form then I forget (yay for menopause brain).
I have toyed with soooo many different apps and analogue methods but recently realised there is no ‘one perfect way’. None of them do everything I want, they all fulfil only parts of my needs. But I think I have found the setup for me.
Planning and organising – while I do use a trusted and much-loved Filofax there’s more than just day to day I need to remember and also there’s long-term planning that I want to have available in a visual and accessible format.
I’ve used it on and off for a while but am now committed to using it to plan my life. I’m using an adapted version of the Second Brain Life OS from Simon at Better Creating as, while I could have built it myself, I am fully on-board with paying someone to do work better and faster than I ever could. It opens when I start my laptop and I add tasks, goals, other stuff in there which I want to track.
Evernote is where I dump everything else I need to remember. I know I can add things to Notion but I prefer the organisation in Evernote – the tags, the search, the clipping etc. I save everything into a ‘brain dump’ folder and then go through it weekly to tag and organise and see what I might want to work on. I love the notebook ‘stacks’ for organisation and that I can export as a PDF. Handy for sharing notes to Moodle from my supervisor meetings. I have also set up my Boox Onyx to export written notes to Evernote so they’re all handily accessible.
The main challenge was where to write my personal notes, thoughts, ideas that I was developing so that I could connect my thoughts. I dabbled with RoamResearch for this but it was quite expensive and, especially at the moment, money is something I need to conserve where possible.
Obsidian was another program I’d dabbled in but couldn’t ‘get it’ at the time. However, when looking at alternatives for Roam I discovered some sage advice … start small, ignore all the plugins-etc, watch a couple of YouTube videos. Which is what I did. And now I see that Obsidian is actually fulfilling a lot of my needs.
- there’s a graph feature to have a visual representation of links between notes (thoughts & ideas)
- it’s simple to use, very simple. There’s no ‘proper’ text editor as such as everything is in markdown
- everything in markdown means that you can open in any text editor, not only Obsidian
- everything is stored locally on your computer, no 3rd party cloud storage (although my MS OneDrive does sync everything across my devices)
I still wish there was One App to Rule Them All but if there is I haven’t found it yet. But this seems to be a start for organising everything I need to organise when I’m working 30 hours a week, plus doing a part-time PhD.
EDIT: I’ve moved away from Notion, for now. It doesn’t suit my brain, too organised, too many databases, too ‘complicated’. See my next post for what I am finding very useful.