Simple Notes Management

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I recently decided to start organising my notes more thoroughly and introduced a schema to my notes directory (demonstrated below). I found that this made it more likely for me to utilise my notes, which in turn has saved me a lot of time. I tend to use my notes throughout the day so I found myself needing a means to access them quickly. This is when I made a script. Utilising fd, fzf and xargs I can now search my notes directory and start taking notes at any given time. It is working really well so far and combined with Neovim I am able to swap between notes files without leaving the comfort of the Neovim editor. If I had to put a number to it I would say that this has saved me at least half an hour a week, which is pretty good for a single line shell command.

Here is the schema:

Subjects can be related to a given category of things such as music, food, hobbies, etc or used as a means of categorising further sub-categories of related notes. A lot of these notes files are checklists. I love checklists and while I could use the markdown format of a checklist, that isn’t really needed as I tend to delete entries from checklists when they have been met so I don’t have a giant list of stuff I no longer need to take note of.

These notes can be synced between devices using rsync or syncthing but I have had no need to implement this due to maintaining a paper notebook as my main means of notetaking. Anything important enough to need to access it on the go is already on paper and I take it with me everywhere anyway. I maintain and use a paper notebook for most of my note taking. I transfer my written notes to this system to index them. The way that I take notes in my paper notebooks is different and will maybe get it’s own post at some point.

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

While talking to a friend about this subject they mentioned that they use software specifically designed for this purpose, which I found odd since notes are just text files. They told me about Obsidian, a graphical markdown text editor that connects notes together with links and has plugin support and all kinds of bloated features that you do not need.

The idea of a monolithic solution to something as simple as note taking is rather funny to think about. Especially when it offers nothing useful on top of its main feature i.e. being a notebook on your computer. A lot of these software applications have popped up over the years and yet none of them have offered anything unique or useful. I remember my university pushing Microsoft’s OneNote as the perfect note taking solution as if a text file or document file wouldn’t suffice.

Which brings me to the one argument in favour of these tools that I see repeated most often. That being that they support some form of sync between devices. This is not a unique feature either, syncing files between devices is easily done. Cloud storage exists already for people that don’t want a DIY solution, sync tools exist for those that do. Including a file sync that is proprietary to the notes editor is a clear case of inventing problems to sell a solution. It is fundamentally worse in all regards than utilising tools that already exist for this purpose. Monolithic design for the sake of self-justification in a note taking program is insanity.

The simplest solutions are always the best, which is why I find this whole world of note taking software redundant. Any notes worth taking don’t need an entire suite of software to handle. Just write it down.