“My productivity app for the past 12 years has been a single .txt file”

Anyone actually using a single txt file currently?

Someone should mention org mode.

“Org mode.”


I was thinking about that just this morning, but it does generally come with Emacs which is a pain to maintain. Beorg on ios is good, but you’d need a text editor with org-mode plugins if you don’t want the whole emac’s system.

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I‘m trying to since reading about it last week on hackernews.

It feels unstructured but I have to admit that having everything reachable with just a few clicks is really handy.
I’m using BBEdit and often search for some command line command and copy it. In obsidian I would search across several files, would have to select the file and then copy the content, which is now reduced to search and copy.

Backup is easy. Version controlled using git.

It also is good for environments like work in which it is not allowed to install tools.

Lets see how this worked in a month or so.


Okay, I tried… This does not work for me.
For short notes OBTF (one big text file) is okay, but not for having multiple ongoing projects at the same time.
A mixed setup works much much better.

I’m using multiple big text files now.

  • 1 as an inbox
    • dump of all kind of information
    • looks like mix of daily notes and MOC (map of content)
  • 1 per project which can get referenced in the inbox text file

Let’s see how this works out long term :slight_smile:
The beauty of these text (md) files is… I can easily change how I want to work and just try stuff.


This approach looks intriguing. I guess I should try it.

I have struggled for years to find a productivity tool that meets my needs. In the end I settled on the good old pen and paper approach. I keep my paper notes and todo lists in a binder in order to easily rearrange them, but obviously that’s not an issue in a text file.

I am an Emacs user already so this gives me a good idea how to organize my life in a single Org file. Org supports internal hyperlinks (Hyperlinks (Org Mode Compact Guide)), so tracking even a dozen of projects in a single file should be easy.


What failed for you?

I’ve tried this a number of times and also failed.

I’m wondering how important a filtered search app is to this approach so you can narrow down the content?

Yes the lack of content filtering was my problem I guess.

  1. I did not find a good solution for getting an overview of all notes related to a project/topic

  2. I got too easily distracted seeing unrelated notes

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I’m liking BBedit on macos and Textastic on iOS. Their ability to filter in on lines is excellent.

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Once I started using Omnifocus, I’ve been hooked. The review feature is especially effective. i need a software program to nag me to look at this stuff. A text file doesn’t do it.


I also used OmniFocus for many many years before switching to Things.
The review feature/process was also really useful to me.
But I used it more for project planning instead of storing/searching real content.

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