Oh how does your (digital) garden grow?
A confession – I'm rubbish at taking notes! The idea of something like a Digital Garden or the Zettelkasten Method “second brain”, as has been mentioned by other bloggers, sounds rewarding but the discipline and effort involved is massively intimidating... and if my note-taking history is anything to go by, unrealistic for me!
I can remember, almost a quarter of a century ago now, sitting in an undergraduate lecture scribbling diligently away before finally giving up on keeping pace with the lecturer who was somehow simultaneously using two overhead projectors and a chalk board. There may even have been an old-school slide projector thrown in for good measure! Instead I ended up relying on my memory (which was really good back then), reading references later and even borrowing the notes of others.
Down the years I've tried summary index cards, mind maps, to-do lists, even arranging a WorkFlowy account structured a la GTD (Getting Things Done). The main thing I ended up using this for (sporadically) was sharing shopping lists with my wife. Which is a shame because I really like the software's simplicity and the elegance of the nested list structure.
I've opened up and written a few things in OneNote, which comes bundled up with both my personal and work Office 365. Very feature rich but overkill for most uses. I've installed both Joplin and the free version of StandardNotes on my Linux laptop, put in nominal first entries and then ignored them. I've read about software such as Obsidian but that seems way beyond my current uses.
So what do I use? Well basically a mixture of a notebook and pads. The physical action of writing a note seems to be the main point for me – sometimes I don't even go back to them, and rarely do I go back weeks or months later. I have a senior work colleague who is even further down this path than me, her preference being to draw colourful mind-maps and diagrams (A3 size if possible) to aid her thinking and talking.
Technologically, I really like the idea of a quirky, non-mainstream device like the Remarkable e-ink tablet designed for note-taking... but my current habits don't really justify such an outlay!
So where does that leave me? For now, I guess, living vicariously through the blogs of others while I scrawl randomly in a notebook. Maybe one day I'll “up my game” with a different approach and start planting and watering a Digital Garden of my own.
...but then again, maybe not!
Entry 64 of my participation in the “100 Days to Offload” challenge – find out more and join in!