Why Do Information Flow Organization#
I am a lazy person, but I like to record and capture the sparks that shuttle between neurons. Just like farming is rooted in the genes of the Chinese people, recording things at hand is also the same.
As early as the time of Emperor Wu of Han, officials were appointed to record the words and deeds of the emperor, providing materials for the compilation of historical books. I don't have the power of an emperor, and I may not be able to leave my name in the corner of history books. But I still want to take snapshots of myself, like a comic strip connecting the bits and pieces of life, as my own historical record.
This article focuses on how I organize my information flow, including the acquisition, processing, and output of daily information. Seeing the experts summarizing their information flow management systems, I also want to summarize mine, not focusing on a specific tool, but on my own experience and methodology.
ps. I feel that the article will be a bit long, so let's split it into two parts, first write the methodology, and then write the practice.
Reduce manual maintenance, as cumbersome steps can lead to mistakes and lack of motivation.
As mentioned earlier, I am a lazy person, and by lazy, I mean that I lack the motivation to maintain a system for a long time. I want all tools to be ready to use out of the box, with low migration costs and high automation. Just like the introduction of CI/CD in DevOps, its essence is to reduce manual operations, as cumbersome steps can lead to mistakes. Another important reason is that I tend to be lazy from time to time, which further reduces my motivation to maintain a system that requires long-term persistence. I believe I am not the only one, as human inertia is innate and difficult to overcome (even for a Scorpio+ENFJ personality 🐶).
Many people advocate various methods to pre-organize their note-taking systems into sub-modules. This does not work for me, except for being able to draw beautiful diagrams 🤣. Just like when I write articles, I plan a bunch of outlines, but once the outlines are finished, I lose the motivation to write (yes, many articles have been abandoned by me ).
Card-style notes are the best solution, quickly turning each idea into a card, and combining tags, whiteboards, and other functions to connect these bits and pieces on a rainy night or a leisurely afternoon, outputting them as an article or internalizing them as my own knowledge.
Reduce the mental burden caused by tools.
After choosing the card-style note-taking method, when it comes to tool selection, I focus more on reducing my mental burden, making it easy to get started without any extra steps, without having to think about where to create folders or what tags to use.
Once there is a mental burden, it is difficult to concentrate on recording.
Taking notes is a very private matter, but my thoughts often come up during work, and I definitely don't want my colleagues to see what I have written (after all, any kind of thinking has xs 🤣).
So I have a few principles for choosing a tool:
- Must support dark mode, because white is too bright, and my eyes become uncomfortable after just a few minutes.
- Must not force writing titles. I hate note titles, just like naming variables, and large titles mean that passing colleagues can easily see what you are doing.
- Must be plain text, only relying on text + shortcuts to achieve everything I need.
- Must be able to adjust font size. Taking notes is a very private matter, but sometimes I have thoughts to settle during work, and I definitely don't want passing colleagues to easily see my records.
- Must have a comprehensive search function. This is a must because the notes are scattered cards.
- Must have playability and explorability. It is difficult to use a note-taking software for a long time, especially if it has no playability. People are always fond of new things. If you use a software for a long time, you will naturally want to try something new.
Use Professional Software for Professional Work#
For writing tools, I mainly use Ulysses.
It seems that I dug a hole to introduce why I use Ulysses for writing (crossed out 🐶).
Let me briefly introduce my favorite features:
- Practical sidebar:
- Word count and goal setting. It feels great to see yourself achieve goals in a few days.
- Keywords and groups, similar to tag management, but I think keywords and categorization are quite useful.
- Annotations. I highly recommend this feature. I often write halfway through an article and sometimes need to add a picture or improve a specific detail, but I often forget. Annotations are a very useful feature. The most important thing is that this annotation is an extended Markdown syntax without any additional operations.
- Publishing: Supports one-click publishing to Medium, Ghost, WordPress, and other platforms. But now I mostly use one-click publishing to Medium.
- Export: Rich export options, supporting formats such as md, text, epub, pdf, etc.
- Search: The search function is simple, practical, and fast. With the help of keyword grouping, I can locate the article I am writing at any time.
- Images: Image management is quite distinctive. It doesn't occupy the entire screen like other Markdown documents, and I don't have to adjust the size of the image myself.
- Typewriter mode: This is the smoothest typewriter mode I have experienced. Sometimes when ideas come up, I can write thousands of words in one breath, without any mouse operations, thanks to the shortcuts.
- Themes: The themes are quite diverse. However, I personally feel that the default black and white color scheme is my favorite. I can also adjust the font size specifically for titles and other formats.
Increase the Information Processing Chain#
Instead of pre-organizing carefully, it is better to increase the information processing chain.
Information reception and organization are equally important, or even more important than organization. I fell into a misconception before, that is, constantly relying on changing note-taking tools to urge myself to organize, without a methodology for organizing.
This led to me recording a large amount of information scattered across different note-taking software, from Evernote to Youdao Cloud Notes to Notion to Obsidian to Logseq.
Just as I was about to step into the abyss of Heptabase, I suddenly woke up. While one foot was stuck in the mud, the other foot had not yet stepped out, and there was still a chance to escape this cycle trap.
I divided information processing into multiple levels of chains:
- Rough processing
- Review and fine processing
- Organization and output
Each level has tools that I can choose to use, for example, in the draft stage, I will directly record on the Flomo website or in the WeChat Reading Notes. The rough processing stage is recorded in Logseq.
For the review and fine processing stage, I use Logseq's tag aggregation or whiteboard to organize. Finally, the output is transferred to Ulysses.