Backstory: State of Personal Knowledge & Projects
I need to Get Things Done, just like everybody else does! Many things happen in life - personal commitments, projects, goals, wishes; professional projects, ideas, plans. That is the story of (almost) everyone’s life. This is a story and analysis of how I have been approaching it on and off in last, what, a decade.
I was lazy in school & college. Didn’t even take notes. All I wrote was experiments and their observations in lab. Never thought about “optimizing the process” of note taking, of course. Well, to be honest I filled lots of notebooks in school because I was mandated to copiously jot from textbooks, repeat over and over (write this poem 7 times!) and cram. That was not note taking. Whatever else it was.
Since then I have had chances to use kanban boards, to-do lists, myriad of “apps” to remember tasks; ruled notebooks, blank print pages, text files, dedicated software to take notes of the work I would do over the years. I don’t have records now because of: lost pages, services going out of business, hard disks failing & unhappy brain that decided to format everything on a fine morning.
What remains are the experiences. Some have retained and some haven’t due to what is called Hebb’s Postulate. I have not found any perfect system for management of personal knowledge and work. For Dwayo we are experimenting with Basecamp - spoiler: positive results. I have run an online wiki on this domain in past, on which I seldom posted entries; I have subscribed to many SaaS products such as todoist, trello, asana, jira to name a few before I was all up Free Software’s ass. I have tried org-mode on and off a few times. I have never read a book on “personal management” and shit (until now). I rarely watch those videos of people talking about how to be productive on youtube. Oh man, they’re recursive - they want to be productive about making videos about how to be productive: FULL-TIME. What the fuck.
All systems lack one thing or the other. Nothing is complete. Systems such as my own brain change at times enough to make me feel like not writing at all for months. Software cannot help much, my friend.
Here are some of the memories that I am supposed to call learning because that exact set(s) of neurons have decided to bundle up and form a sort of communist party in my brain:
- Do not use other people’s computers to store your data
- Keep backup of your data
- Build the habit of noting things down
- Don’t obsess excessively over noting down every damn thing
- Simple systems that you can control
- Trust no one - including yourself
- Digitize everything
- Emacs is great
Recently, I got to know about “Zettelkasten”. Fancy name huh? It is a way to take notes (don’t tell me how to take notes okay?) - just a framework to build up on. And from there, I found out org-brain. And here I am, starting my experiments with note taking, task management & “getting things done”. Not a fan of fads and marketing schemes though.
My goal is to have a system that I can use on laptops, phones, tablets, servers (I have multiple of all of these). A system that will remove all friction when I want to “capture” notes and tasks and other miscellaneous creatures called thoughts that are basically just electrons or whatever the fundamental buildings blocks of this particular universe are running around my nervous system causing chaos. Then the system has to enable me to find out everything I need, when I want from the storage (when did I last think about Hebb’s Postulate, might I wonder sometimes).
If you think you’re a master of this art, you must be a ninja or a Zen master or something. Whatever. Help me out O Human, if you can. We shall discuss the approaches, the pitfalls, the mountains and simple ideas perhaps.
Here is what I’m doing:
- Destroying my existing systems
- Taking notes in org-brain
- Reading David Allen’s book on GTD
- Posting about it on the Internet
- Asking people questions
- Nonchalantly living life and finishing tasks
There is a high probability value assigned by me to the event of occurrences of new updates on this specific topic on this blog of mine. I hear zero probability doesn’t mean it won’t happen at all - what the fuck.