Steve Jobs Book - emails to self

I finished reading the new book last night. Nothing I didn’t know already, but it was refreshing to just read Steve’s own words and not have it filtered through a biographer/journalist. One thing I was struck by is how much he used emails to himself to work out ideas. For the Stanford commencement address, there is a long series of emails as he works on the speech.

I use Obsidian for this kind of thing, but I wonder if there is some value to sending ideas to myself in an email? If Steve did it, it is worth considering at least!


Back in the day when Mail was home to notes and tasks, Jobs mentioned he emailed himself little things throughout the day. Kind of cool to see some of them now


I used to use email for notes and reminders decades ago (as well as 3x5 cards). But there are better tools available today. And email is such a distraction I only use it when absolutely necessary.


I use email for notes to self a lot. I also use it for ur-drafts of work I’m writing.

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I actually use an app called EmailMe for this purpose. It’s a stupid little text editor with a send button. :slight_smile:


I’ve also started using Obsidian for my interstitial journalling - a chance to dump thoughts and work through in a ‘private’ setting. I use outlines a lot when I’m fleshing out ideas.

My email isn’t a place I want to spend much time in these days, but I do wonder if there’s something in responding to your previous ideas rather than just adding to them. Maybe that could be done effectively in Obsidian, or perhaps a private Discord channel or WhatsApp to self would work.

That said, Obsidian (or similar tools with a daily note) offer a zero friction place to write anything - meeting notes, thoughts, useful links…


I liked Obsidian a lot in theory, and tried it for a year, but it’s just not for me. I do keep and add to long-term notes. I like email for notes to self, conversations with my self as I work out an idea or research issue (and I’ve been using email this way since I was a graduate student with a mainframe account). Some of my reasons are:

  • Threading means replying to myself on a given topic/thought means that the ideas are automatically grouped together.
  • Ubiquity of email means that I can retrieve/add to/review the ideas wherever
  • It’s easy to back up, sort, and archive email
  • My email environment is easily customized to my personal needs (visually disabled, I’m picky)
  • Dictation is surprisingly useful
  • Email on a Mac is really liquid, manipulatable scriptable data.

Doesn’t mean YOU have to do this, but it’s helpful to me.

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