Intersection of Notebook & Digital For Org Systems

I’m continuing the (never-ending) process of trying to dial in my system.

I’ve read the Bullet Journal book, and I like “rapid logging”, mostly for the speed and the fact that I (now) always have a Field Notes sized notebook & pen in my pocket. It makes getting quick ideas out of my head super-fast, instead of having to unlock my phone, fire up an app, wait for it to launch, etc. I have a Post-It flag on my current page, so it’s easy to flip it open and go.

Of course as a tech professional, pretty much everything I do in life is digital. So keeping my giant list of “to do” stuff in a notebook - particularly a small pocket notebook - is inefficient. Especially if I’m manually re-writing things when the notebook fills up, per the BuJo methodology. I mean…I have one large customer that I’ve given their own “someday/maybe” list.

I’ve also been doing some reading about the idea of “commonplace books”, where one scribbles down quotes, important thoughts, etc. And the idea of writing it down seems appealing, both from the ease-of-use perspective, and because writing something down seems different from typing it. I’ve discovered that if I don’t write something down, I won’t remember. If I do write it down, there’s a good chance I’ll never have to look at it because it’ll be committed to memory via the act of writing.

So ultimately, I think most of my life & data ultimately needs to live in a digital form - but paper is quick & convenient. This makes the “indexing” feature of BuJo seem much less relevant, as the idea is to get it out of my head, and probably transfer it at some future point to a digital format.

I don’t think I need to go full Zettelkasten or anything, but a DEVONthink database full of categorized notes is more than fine for me. :slight_smile:

Does anybody else do a hybrid system like this? If so, do you do something to differentiate between kinds of items (quotes, grocery lists, “remember this when I get home”, tasks, etc.)? Or do you just do a straight-up stream-of-consciousness sort of dump, and sort it out later?

Any good tips? Further reading?

My memory works the same way. I’m retired now, but for many years I’d carry a few 3x5 cards with me to write down ideas, to do’s, etc.

I managed voice and computers for a company of around 200 and couldn’t walk through the building without one or two “you got a minute?” interruptions. Anything I couldn’t answer/handle immediately went on a card that would eventually be typed into Reminders or scanned into Evernote. In later years I added Siri, "Remind me to . . . " to my method. Since retiring, Siri is my primary method of entering to do’s, but I still carry a couple of 3x5s.

And keep a dry erase marker in the bathroom to write reminders & ideas on the mirror. :grinning:

I’ve had bad luck with Siri understanding what I’m saying - so when I tried that I wound up with a bunch of notes that were (sometimes comically) unintelligible.

I do have “Just Press Record” on phone + watch, but of course then I have the situation where I have yet another digital “inbox” to sift through.

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I have been Bullet journaling on and off since the beginning of the method (and used hipster-pda sort of things before), so I’ve been using a hybrid system for a long time…

Right now I moved from OmniFocus to a “pure” Bullet Journal for task management: slower, less efficient and less automated (even tho a lot of automations felt like something I did because it’s cool and not because I really needed it; my experience of course, not judging others) but I feel it more tailored to me and thus more efficient: one thing I noticed is that the bujo forces me to review my projects more than OF, so I’m more on top of things and less prone of creating items and lists of “someday maybe” things.

To give context, when I used Omnifocus I copied things to do from the app to a hobonichi cousin in the morining, used it to record new tasks trough the day; in the evening I copied the relevant tasks back to OF.

Bullet Journal is just more simple that the previous system: it allows me to consolidate task management, note taking and a simplified agenda (the truth of my agenda is in various online calendars accessed via fantastical) in a A5 notebook that’s relatively easy to carry (if I feel more lightweight - usually outside a work environment - I have a passport size Traveller’s Notebook with pen loop that’s perfect inside my 5L Peak Design’s Everyday Sling).

And it solves my need to write things by hand (I might be a little weird on this side) and use the plethora of equipment accumulated over the years.

For the digital side of the moon, I played with a lot of note taking app, systems and so on; recently I played with obsidian to dip my toes into the new cool, but I found that keeping a bunch of org-mode files (usually one for topic: tech, photography, stationery :roll_eyes:, law, quotes etc.) works well for me as a knowledge repository / commonplace notebook.

I can add almost any kind of information to them (code, links, text, images…), org-mode has powerful outlining features that allow to hide or disclose a lot of information, search is powerful, it’s plain text…

Org-mode has way more power than this under the hood of course, so one could use it as an agenda / task manager system too, but that’s another story.

On the differentiate side of things I do not differentiate that much: thing to do are injected into the BuJo and maybe sorted out afterwards (well I color code to have a visual clue on what’s work related - blue - and what’s not - yellow) if they need to go in a different place into the Bullet Journal (future log / collections, to speak the technical jargon) or into an .org file (usually short quotes or snippet of ideas, i do not copy by hand cool scripts found on MPU forum :upside_down_face:).

I’m not much of a zealot about where to capture things: I mean, at work at my desk I find it faster to jot down into the BuJo even if I’m using the computer, but if I’m away from the desk or out and about usually I just use Drafts and afterwards file it where it needs to go.

I’m another in the “notes on cards” camp. I do not use bujo but I have my own idiosyncratic set of ticks and marks on notes that denote actions / context. Pretty informal. At some point daily, usually end of workday, I mark off completed items, or transfer items to OmniFocus for future actions.

How about a simple text or voice to email app?

Boomerang: email myself

is simple, seems to work well and has a good rating on the App Store.

Voice-to-text is a good portion of my problem. Things get mis-transcribed, and then they’re unintelligible when I go to look at them.

What I really wish I could find was a “record a note, then email me a link to the note in my iCloud” free app.

As it stands I’m working on a super-simple automation that scans my iCloud and emails me whenever stuff shows up in a particular folder. Then I can use JustPressRecord when I’m doing something that requires my hands (like driving), and I’ll have a reminder there to pop in and transcribe it - or use the built-in transcription if it’s suitable.

That’s what I am moving more and more toward as my external brain. I’m not really big on tagging unless it’s a clearly defined vocabulary like in LightRoom but I am exploring more linkages between notes in DT as a way to link my various thoughts.

I already do a bit of a hybrid system. I always carry a 3x5 notepad and pen in my wallet and will write down anything and everything that comes to mind. When I get back to my desk they all get torn off and tossed into the paper inbox for further processing. Most will end up in DEVONThink either in a list of someday/maybe things or as a separate note. If it turns out to be something for a task or project that goes into Omnifocus. I have these notepads scattered throughout the house in every room just in case I run out of paper in the one in my wallet. (which has happened more often than you might think.)

Where things are changing to me is that I prefer to brainstorm and plan code by hand writing. What I would do is write and draw using several colors of pens, then end up re-writing it all again in a cleaner format until I have the design/item correct then I usually retype it. DT if it’s small but more often than not into Scrivener. Drawings get imported into Scrivener as well into the references section usually as PDFs

Now that paper method is being replaced by my iPad and GoodNotes. I like that I can clean-up and refine the design all there and then when final send it off as text for use later. Still working out the kinks in taking my handwriting and doing text recog for export but it’s coming along.

Soap also works when in the shower. Plus you can clean the shower door when you erase it. :laughing:

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As long as the notes go in the same inbox, it’s not duplication of functionality - it’s efficiency. :smiley:

Try playing with the gender and accent in Siri. It shouldn’t matter but I get much better recognition of my reminders which I have sent automatically to my Omnifocus inbox when Siri is set to a British accent vs American. Perhaps it’s because I only use Siri to take notes when I’ve got my hands full of sheep and they are Welsh sheep after all. :wink:

Rebooting an ageing thread, but the idea of analogue/digital intersection remains current. I have spent most of my working life buried in IT, which perhaps is influencing my current love of paper notebooks and fountain pens!

I’m using a hybrid bullet journalling-based system:

  • Future log/Monthly log - Apple Calendar and Apple Reminders
  • Daily task list/plan/logs/journals/gratitude - Poi Co Log Journal and Lamy fountain pen - I am loving the experience of taking control of my day away from apps and into something tactile. It’s also better in meetings - pen and paper is more disarming than an iPad or laptop.
  • Long term document storage - EagleFiler
  • Collections (e.g., books to read) - Apple Reminders list

I’ve been using Reminders as a collection tool, as my phone is usually with me but my notebook is not, although Boomerang (which quickly sends to email and is recommended above) is interesting since I have to review emails at some point during the day.

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Have a look at this one

I use it since about two weeks now, and it is doing a pretty good job for me, while (beside Drafts) everything else in the area of Voice-to-text is failing for me, incl. Siri unfortunately…

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