New tools

2023-10-31 21:32:03 +0100 +0100

I’m experimenting with a few replacements for my existing workflows:

I chose Obsidian (and started using Zotero) after reading How to take smart notes. Actually, the tool itself here is not so important; rather the purpose and method of taking notes is. One idea in the book–which you should read, because I’m not going to attempt to summarize it–is that we should take notes whenever we’re reading, and summarize as much as possible in our own words. Each note stands on its own, like a short wiki article, or like a section of a longer wiki article. Then use keywords to link one note to another. Eventually you’re able to look at the sum of your thoughts, both notes you’ve taken while reading, and original ideas, and find connections between ideas by revisiting and reworking your notes.

As someone who spends a fair amount of my day reading, whether it’s code review, technical documentation, articles, Google Docs, etc, it’s appealing to have an organized knowledge repository that allows me to maintain a manageable map of this information.

I’m not consistent about it yet, but will give it a try over the next months at least. I’m absorbing a lot of material at the moment and was struggling to keep up with processing it all. The note-taking process makes reading a bit slower, but getting things down into notes means fewer things floating in my head. So I think it will be worth it.

I spent a few days setting up org-roam and while it’s very cool, and would be nice to continue to keep using org-mode, it felt a bit rough around the edges and I’d like my note repo to be easy, responsive, and a pleasant place to hang out in. Obsidian seems to meet the mark with its vi mode enabled, and I also appreciate that it’s available on my phone, so I can capture a thought quickly. (Yes, pen and paper are nice for that too.)

Then, along the same idea of wanting to be around the tool you use all the time, I decided somewhat whimsically to have second look at Todoist as a replacement for my GTD implementation in org-mode. Some really nice things since the last time I tried using it a few years ago:

I’ve started a small project (kostajh/todoistandup) that generates my daily standup messages. I’ll be adding some code to automatically pull some things into my inbox (code review requests, phab tasks assigned to me). So far I think the app + some helper scripts works well. Whether it becomes a place that I am happy to cultivate and build on is somewhat of an open question, but it feels a bit more manageable than the more free-form (and thus a little stressful) setup of org-mode.