The future has arrived. We are now in the digital age and that means we are dealing with more and more information. However, we have better tools to handle it.

You keep everything in your phone you say. OK, cool. But how do you keep notes about everything? I mean the day to day stuff. What was that spare part number for the handle that you replaced on your washing machine? How much money were you planning to set aside for that coming soon job that needs doing on the car?

Do you even back up your phone? What would happen if you lose it?

In this article I am going to talk about some of the tools I am using.

Note: for the aliases in this article, if you are using bash you can put them in either your ~/.bash_aliases or ~/.bashrc file; if you are using zsh then put them in your ~/.zshrc file. Modify them to use whichever editor you prefer, I like gvim.

Notebook and Pen

This is old school, it never runs out of battery and is always reliable when you need it. I'm using the A6 spiral bound note with grid pages from Muji. Here are some tips:

An Outliner

Outlines are basically bulleted lists that you use to capture and organise ideas, plans, work, etc. You can use a simple text editor, e.g. vi/vim, nano, etc. if you like. I like to use gvim on the desktop and Outliner on Android.

Create the directory ~/Documents/Outlines. Every time you create a file, put the date in the filename. You can simplify this by using an alias:

alias outline='gvim ~/Documents/Outlines/outline-$(date +"%Y%m%d")'

It Used to be Called a WikiWiki

I find wikis are good for organising notes that need to link to each other or the web in general. They are easy to use and written in markdown so straightforward to use. I like TiddlyWiki but I have also used MediaWiki and TWiki. TiddlyWiki has the advantage of storing your database in local files rather than using a webserver and database service; I recommend to use the TiddlyDesktop rather than a regular web browser.

I have tended to divide up my Wiki database into multiple wikis or sections. Most people will need about 3 wikis,

  1. Planning: Time: what you do with your time. Holidays. Time you want to devote to certain things. How you use your time at home. Future time.
  2. Projects: Hobbies, creative efforts, books you are reading, logging about things you have done to fix the car, logging about exercise.
  3. Finance: bills, costs, planned spending. Car stuff. House stuff. etc

You can also store technical snippets like how to do things with your computer, or tips for video games, the serial numbers of all your stuff.

Notes in Plain Text

I use gvim to keep random notes in plain text, but you can use any text editor you like.

Create the directory ~/Documents/Notes Every time you create a file, put the date in the filename. Add this alias:

alias note='gvim ~/Documents/Notes/note-$(date +"%Y%m%d")'

Derek Sivers has some thoughts on plain text files too.

Simple Logging

I also use OLL - my One Line Logger. You can use a text editor but OLL makes it simple.

You could make an alias like above for entering logs, create the directory ~/Documents/Logs and add this alias:

alias slog='gvim ~/Documents/Logs/log-$(date +"%Y%m%d")'

I'm using slog for this alias instead of log because on macOS/BSD log is the system wide log tool.

Video and Audio Logs

Sometimes it's better to hear from yourself, in your own voice. You can record a log on your phone using the video camera or use an audio recorder app. My tips:

Final Thoughts