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Ask HN: How do you keep track of your creative thoughts?
325 points by jianzong on Jan 6, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 278 comments
Hi Hackernews, I am a developer with lots of random creative thoughts, especially when I am in shower or after a few shots of caffeine. I have yet to find a perfect solution to keep track of my random thoughts. Here are a few things that I've tried at least for a few months:

1. Physical notebook: still using, but some times my notebook is in my backpack/left at home/in office 2. Evernote alike: never works for me. I hate the constant changing features/UI and the overhead of simply opening it 3. (My pick) use instant IM to send messages to myself: the IM tool really doesn't matter. It could be mail app, facebook messenger, slack. Laptop and phone syncing is free and always reliable.

I know these are my throw away thoughts. I am wondering whether there are some amazingly good solutions that I didn't know of. Otherwise I am planning to create one for myself.


I (and am sure many here) have been in the same situation. I have tried physical books (which I'm still biased towards), OneNote (my next favourite, especially on tablets with stylus), txt files, wiki etc.

Ultimately what I realised is that it is all useless if I don't have a periodic review session for these ideas.

So, what I am doing these days (not with much success due to lack of discipline) is to have 2 or 3 different sources for such ideas - notebook, onenote, email, bookmarks, Google Keep etc. But spend sometime during the weekend to organise these week's ideas into the correct container. In my case the 'source of truth' is OneNote, so I have several notebooks and sections within each notebook and I file things there.

Even though this is tedious and repetitive I find it to be absolutely necessary if anything good has to come out of those ideas. It also gives me a chance to revisit old ideas and file my new half-baked ideas into a section where it fits in with some other idea.

The other important task is that I need to plan some small action items with these ideas or else it will just accumulate there and cause lot of stress eventually.

P.S. It will be great to hear your thoughts on the tool you plan to create. Like what features you find missing and how you plan to accommodate the user's laziness in your UX

Thank you srikz!

It is a little surprising to see a handful of recommendation for OneNote. I have never used OneNote before, but will definitely give it a try.

I think one's idea tracking system should cover two parts: fast and slow. The slow part is as you mentioned we should periodically review ideas. For this part, I am almost 100% happy with Github issues/wiki/projects.

For the fast part, like you, I used notebook, IM, Google Keep and a bash script at the same time (whichever that is most handy). I am 90% happy with the process. Given the high frequency of the day I am spending tracking ideas (~10 times per day), I am willing to spend some time to fine tune the practice until I am 99% happy.

The idea I have in mind is to write a IM-like note taking app for iPhone and Mac, which stores plain-text and image in iCloud drive. The app should utilize platform features such as Siri, 3D touch, Mac status bar to enable fastest idea capturing.

This sounds boring to me, but I believe if it is done right, it could be my most efficient zero-effort idea tracking solution on the go. (And review ideas using the plain-text db in iCloud)

Your idea sounds good. I'm tempted to say that handwriting (via stylus or finger) is important and so is intelligent reminder system. But that may be worth adding later.

Periodic review is the most important thing for your creative ideas, next to writing them down.

I love to write on clean sheets of copy paper. Most notebooks don't lie flat and the ones that do seem to fall apart with travel. I used to have tons of loose copy paper floating around my laptop bag, desk, folders, cabinets, etc... It was getting lost and damaged so I bought an iPad Pro and got used to writing on it. I still prefer paper, but at least I'm not losing my ideas now.

Two years ago I printed everything out (including all the scanned copy paper from older notes). It was about a ream of paper.

I started going through it, it was surprised at how many amazing and prescient thoughts I'd had and later forgotten about. There were thoughts that, combined with newer thoughts, created powerful insights that have benefited my clients and made me more money.

I have not done a review of my notes since then and I sorely need to, but I can say with absolute certainty that periodically reviewing your notes will bring you great value.

I’ve been using a new system for the past few weeks, so I don’t know how well it will stick:

I carry a small spiral-bound memo book with me all the time for short-term notes. In the case of random thoughts, it’s generally just a title.

Every morning, I move everything from the memo book into other systems and tear out the used pages. For ideas, this means putting the title at the top of a blank sheet of paper and free writing until I either run out of things to say or reach the bottom of the page.

About once a week, I file all the new notes in a binder sorted by title and put an index card for each one in a Leitner box for reviewing in the future.

When working through reviews, if I find a note interesting it gets promoted all the way to the front section of the box, and otherwise it gets pushed back one, so that its review cycle gets longer. I also use the review as an opportunity to ensure the note is recorded properly in a topical index.

I love this. I did something similar .. but then I kept on putting them through the wash. I briefly looked up notebooks that are washing machine safe, but I think the ones I found cost more than I wanted to spend.

I'll give this a go, again, but be more diligent about taking stuff out of my pockets for laundry. Well, I'll try to be, at least.

That’s part of the reason I move everything out of my carry-around book daily: it’s the most physically vulnerable part of the system, so I want to minimize the damage that losing it would cause.

The problem with OneNote is that its file format is proprietary (though documented). I have random notes that are 20 years old. Notes I take today need to be readable 20 years from now. Will OneNote be around 20 years from now? I prefer to store my notes in plain text because it is guaranteed to be readable decades from now.

Do you intend to restore today's backup of your OneNote files with a copy of OneNote 2039? It might work or might not.

But if you keep using OneNote for the next 20 years, I can guarantee that it won't suddenly implode and suddently make all your notes unreadable by anything else.

Also the format is open and documented: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_OneNote#File_format

You can export an entire notebook, or individual notes to PDF. PDF is easily converted to text so there is one way to archive.

I had stopped using Apple Notes because the format was a proprietary binary format with no export feature. When I found an app to export as text I went back to using Notes.

Oh, man, you just have written my exact thoughts! I also have a problem revisiting my notes, ideas, etc. I was thinking about creating a note-taking app with reminder. I know, that there is a whole world of note apps as well as reminder apps, but i wanted to have specific tool. Also, what is the point to be a programmer if you don’t create things for yourself, right?)

OneNote is by far the best electronic note-taking and organizing tool out there, in spite of many glaring shortcomings. (e.g.: It really needs a way to tag things, as the full text search quickly becomes less useful as you pour more of your life in it, especially web clips; also need real tree-structure organizing that lets you go deeper than just Notebook/Section/Page; UI is a disaster for pen/touch use since removing radial menus, etc.) It's the main reason I will never go back to a "caveman laptop" w/o pen support. I just wish MS would really put serious effort into OneNote as a product.

That said, I capture critical ideas and project and research info in OneNote, but still use a plain old notebook (using a system I made up myself similar to the old Franklin planner and Bullet Journals) to do much of my ordinary day-to-day notetaking, planning, and task management. The truth is, there is NO electronic "day management" system available today that is even close to as good as what Palm had 20 years ago.

Hey dublin, I'm on the OneNote team. Thank you for the feedback. I had a few follow-up questions for you:

- OneNote lets you nest multiple levels of sections and pages. Is this the tree-structure you're looking for?

- You can add tags and search for tags now in both OneNote for Win10 and Mac. Once you've given it a try, can you tell me if that's the tagging support you're looking for?

- Besides the lack of the radial menus, what else about pen/touch use is painful for you? Is this in OneNote for Win10 or OneNote 2016?


Dedicate a wall in your bedroom or private office to hang a whiteboard for writing your ideas. If one of your creative ideas is going to have a positive impact on your life, it worth to be in front of your eyes.

Review is essential, yes.

Physical notebooks started working for me when I started using them for daily planning, which I did by buying a silly $5 stamp of off AliExpress: https://medium.com/@kristiandupont/high-resolution-planning-...

On NYE I went through my books of 2018 and it was a great experience -- both reiterating all the things I've actually accomplished and refreshing various thoughts and ideas that I had stored and sort of let go. https://www.instagram.com/p/BsDWesbnkDI/

+1 for physical notebooks. I still do this. I still make notes on my laptop but most everything is still on paper!

It gives me something to show my kids someday.

I'm sure this won't be the case for everyone but something about being on the computer all the time, using it for official work tasks and so many personal mundane tasks seems to take away from my seriousness and memory retention when I'm trying to do creative organization outside of work time (since work stuff is by nature more structured and stratified into departments and projects it sorta helps to organize itself before I have to really put thought into it).

That's where I find using a physical notebook better.

Sometime I do is write everything out in pencil first and then I make sure to re-read it. That gives me a chance to make quick changes / fixes and then more importantly it allows me to go back with a pen when I'm done to write over / highlight headings, keywords, key snippets, and key bullet points while also being able to add things like stars next to important items, arrows to connected items, and other things that I possibly forgot to jot down or couldn't finish once I have the clarity of the entire ordeal's organization jotted down in one place.

This helps me commit things to memory much better and something about having a hand written hard copy feels like I actually did some "official work" on a side project / personal organization / preparation project.

Yes, for me physical notebooks are the best solution as well. A notebook and a pen goes everywhere with me (e.g. I don't leave it in the office). It's not that inconvenient. No battery to keep charged, worrying about breaking the screen, etc.

For the rare occasions I don't happen to have it at hand, it's easy to scavenge a scrap of paper to scribble things down and then later glue into the notebook.

Just dropped everything and bought that stamp! I'm an artist so a sketchbook is just part of the job, but I have tried and failed for years to keep a proper planner. I like this, though, it's so easy and less overwhelming.

Same. When at a computer, I keep it all in a single markdown file. Easy to find, edit, search, etc.

Switching to Notion from Evernote has pretty much changed my life. I tried mind maps before but the scattered nature of how I dump ideas I think requires a little more of a structured framework for me to play in. With notion the key features that really help me is having nested pages, and being able to group select things and drag them into a nested page. From there I can keep nesting if I want. The general ease of being able to organize and group things, and also create overview pages that link to several other deep dive pages, allows me to move further with ideas than I ever did with evernote. With evernote, it felt more like a scattered dump, even if I grouped things into notebooks. There was no spacial distinction or grouping of concepts, just a bunch of small random thoughts thrown together in a loosely defined notebook. And once things got out of hand it felt pretty much impossible to wrangle it back together. Evernote for me was great if I knew there was a specific piece of information I had saved, that I needed to look up through search. But it never felt like I could map out and grow and abstract idea as I slowly created it overtime. It's hard to really explain over text the workflows I can create with notion to organize my thoughts, I'd definitely recommend watching youtube videos of different workspace layouts ppl have come up with like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_mh91IRLL8

The general point being that this tool has helped me in my goal of shifting from simply aggregating lots of thoughts and ideas, towards having the structure to make that next step and actually do something with them.

Man, it's annoying when things are named with such common words.

Here is (I think) their web site: https://www.notion.so/mobile

It doesn't seem to have a web or Linux desktop app, though.

I gave Notion a quick try on my Android Handset, but it felt quite slow and unresponsive, adding a subpage gave me a spinning wheel animation, that took a little bit, and trying to reorder items by dragging quickly flashed the keyboard over the content.

My preferred way to keep notes of thoughts that I have on the way, is "Simplenote". I've tried other Note taking Apps, but so far Simplenote feels the most solid when it comes to syncinc the content. Syncinc NEVER blocks the App, it happens automatically and quickly in the background, I Never had to wait for the sync, or press a button or refresh anything.

Other than that, "Simplenote" feels very lightwight and fast, exactly what I want, when I want take a note when in hurry.

I love notion too. It's basically what I've always wanted for organizing my notes and lists and thoughts: a personal wiki that doesn't have separate modes for authoring and reading

+1 for Notion. It's added so much structure and value to my life.

I have simply a folder that contains 10+ text files, mostly containing numbered lists: 01_calendar; 02_TODO (just a stack of things I want to do); 03_questions (e.g.: "What substances emit sound when heated?"); 04_ideas (entrepreneurship, organization -- this is helpful because for one thing you start to see the pattern in your ideas -- what you value etc.); 05_opinions&thoughts; 06_self&improvement (my habits are like this and that, I could improve them like this); 07_read&watch&experience (list of interesting people, movies etc.); 08_my_history (contains critical events that have happened to me, it's really useful to see them all at once for self-reflection); 09_principles_I_follow; 10_humor (humorous ideas that I collect in order to create a stand-up routine someday)

You should consider Org Mode.

Yes, perhaps. I'd think moving my stuff to Git/Github would also be beneficial, but there hasn't been a real need yet.

Thanks man, I created these labels in my google keep (apart from calendar, I have a calendar for that :) )

Glad to be of help :). The list is by no means perfect, but has worked for me so far pretty well. I forgot to mention, that I have also folders with identical names for ideas that need extensive wording.

I am a huge fan of txt files. How do you get your files accessible on different devices?

Hmm, since I don't have that many devices, and since I mostly write down my thoughts & ideas at home, I never had that problem. Maybe you could synchronize your devices & files with Dropbox for example.

Props for your simple working solution. Plain text storage is the best!

Thanks :). I'm a huge fan of simplicity / the simplest possible solution.

I use Trello.

I have a board called Ideas for collecting. Usually I just put the thought in the card title.

From there more details can be added in the description, and eventually the card can be moved into its own list or board for further expansion.

Since I'm on Android, I have the Add Card shortcut on my home screen, which means there's very little friction to adding new ideas.

For those on iOS with a device that supports 3DTouch, there’s an option to add a new card in the menu that pops up from the Trello app icon on the home screen. Granted that 3DTouch features are not easy to discover though.

I use Google Keep, Google Docs and Trello.

- Google Keep for quickly jotting down new ideas on the go (usually just a line or two so I can remember). This is my temporary record.

- Then, when I have time at the end of day, I add to to my document in Google Drive with more details, description, etc. This is my permanent record.

- When I'm ready to work on something, I add it to Trello with specific tasks, deadlines and reminders. This is my task manager.

One thing I'm failing to consistently do is to revisit old ideas periodically and remove the old ones I no longer deem worthy exploring.

+1 to this. I have a board with different lists regarding the overall category of the idea. (App, website, thing, etc.) Along with that I use labels to further categorize within the lists.

I email myself and capture in emacs org-mode.

I have an email address that is bound to AWS SES. SES listens for incoming emails and writes them to an S3 bucket. I then have a lambda hook which listens for writes to this bucket and processes the email content. This usually means writing an emacs org-mode record on dropbox. Which is then added to my emacs agenda.

That sounds really complicated. Wouldn't you just use something like Syncthing to synchronize your org mode files across devices? I use Orgzly and Syncthing in my phone and it's good enough.

If you use it for general email stuff, just have a Cron job pulling your email down and append new stuff to a file that gets synchronized.

I don't really get why AWS, S3, or lambda are involved, unless you just wanted to see if you could do it.

I definitely used it as an exercise to learn lambda. I don't have an android phone for orgzly and at the time of creation, there weren't any solid iPhone org-mode apps.

I use org-brain on the backend and the lambda function does some processing to automatically categorize and such.

That is a pretty good idea. Couldn’t you bypass S3, though? SES can trigger lambdas: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/ses/latest/DeveloperGuide/receiv...

At the time I wrote it, The SES -> lambda hooks did not give you the body content of the email and required a write to S3 first. This might still be the case.

I can't tell whether this is serious or you are joking. Either way that's unusual...

Fairly normal setup. I have something similar on my own server i.e. not AWS.

I used IFTTT for email->Dropbox for some time. Ultimately, I didn't leave much notes for myself this way, as I'm almost always close to a computer with Emacs accessible locally or remotely. For the rare case I use Orgzly on my phone, or Google Keep in a pinch.

I just e-mail myself, make sure to include “idea” or “business idea” or “game idea” or whatever in the subject line, respond to the email chain if i want to iterate, and periodically go back through the search results of emails I’ve sent myself.

I use org-mode with a keybase git repo. Works on termux too!

Over the past 25-odd years I've used text files, Moleskine notebooks I carried with me everywhere and lately just iCloud notes. My main problems turned out to be not the preservation of such ideas, but not actually bothering to write them down often and lack of discipline at revisiting them later. Judging from past "successes", getting to work on good ideas immediately has worked best for me.

Basically the same as me, though I love spending time going back a rereading all my notes. Sometimes I'm really tempted to delete one, as it's stupid, but I resist the urge.

I use Zim wiki: http://zim-wiki.org/

I organize everything in it, and I have also a daily journal in zim, it is synchronized with syncthing https://syncthing.net/ on all my computers and my phone.

When I have something quick to add and don't have access to my computer, I send to myself a message and slack, or on whatsapp and I add it later to my notes

I host my own DokuWiki on DigitalOcean, keep everything there under Certbot SSL and Google Authenticator 2FA login. DokuWiki also works great on mobile. Also have paper/analog notebooks with me at all times.

I've been hosting my own wiki based on Use Mod Wiki since the late 90's. I'm still using it everyday.

I use a physical notepad, OneNote, and Quire.

The notepad is a shirt pocket sized 3"x4" piece of cedar shingle with a standard size (letter or A4 about) piece of paper folded 3 times to make 8 sub-pages per side, held on with a mini binder clip. This is mostly for shopping lists, but also for ideas I want to capture right away. When one sub-page fills up, I refold the sheet to get another blank page. I also put sticky notes on it.

I use OneNote synced on my phone, home, and work PCs to capture longer format notes, brain-dumps, links to web sites, images, etc.

Quire is a really nice hierarchical todo list that I use to break ideas down into steps and keep track of progress on projects. It also syncs between my devices. https://quire.io , https://quire.io/tutorial

I have a git repo. I wrote about this and other related time management things here:


> I was disorganised until my 30s.

I'm in my late 20s and I face a constant struggle in organising myself. Your blog post seems to be a nice window in how I should approach this issue. Thanks!

Great! Feel free to message me if you want guidance.

I know this isn’t the topic but just for anyone else reading and gets the impression that they aren’t normal:

My answer is - I don’t. I’m reasonably creative and also get ideas in inconvenient situations. But I try to remember and it actually works. Since it’s an “idea” it’s usually such a small piece of information that is key anyway “if I process everything backwards I can do it in constant time” or whatever. Obviously if your creativity is grapical you need to draw, if it’s musical you might need to record. But for problems I’m stuck on, it’s usually a tiny thought that unlocks the whole thing I’m stuck on.

I keep track of creative thoughts in a journal [http://jrnl.sh]

I keep track of tasks with taskwarrier [https://taskwarrior.org/]

For both of the above, I use Dropbox to share data on multiple devices. The only downside with the above can be the lack of mobile app support. (Personally, I do not miss this)

Edit: My daily journal is on paper, which I write at the end of the day. The jrnl command line app above is to record any notes through the day (work or home) when I am using a computer.

Thanks for suggesting jrnl. If you are on Android then Termux and Hacker's Keyboard should solve your issue https://github.com/maebert/jrnl/issues/329#issuecomment-3484...

My Google Keep is filled with all sorts of unusual ramblings.

Nothing particularly special about Keep itself, but I find having a mobile app handy as I get to sleep easier if I simply grab my phone off the beside table and jot down notes. Otherwise I lay awake worrying I'll forget in the morning.

I use 2Do with a keyboard shortcut for a new task set to Ctrl+Alt+Cmd+T, so I can instantly note anything down and forget about it. That lands into an inbox I can process later.

If it's an actionable thing I then categorize and schedule it, but I also have a large 'Maybe' list for unwieldy project ideas (52 items and counting).

For random daily or project notes I use a small shell script (and Dock application, via Automator) that creates a daily file and opens the containing folder in an editor:

    touch "~/notes/$(date +%Y%m%d).txt"
    $EDITOR ~/notes 1>&2 2>/dev/null &
On my phone I use a very simple but therefore fast and effective open source notes application: https://git.savannah.gnu.org/cgit/diary.git. I never write much there, so I just sometimes manually copy it to my other notes.

I do something like your touch incantation, but as a bash function (mknote) that takes an argument for a basic "name".

So whenever I make a note, it goes to ~/notes/$date-$1.txt which I then come back to later either manually or with "enote" (which opens emacs for the latest note matching $1 via ls -t). Having the name really helps me see visually what I'm looking for, roughly remember (like any title) what important enough things happened in the last while, and so on.

As for daily notes/TODO, I've long given up on a single TODO.txt, but do have several years of weekly status entries in the "Google snippets" form of "this week, next week". For 2018, I finally gave in and switched to Markdown rather than my own sort of format ("dash means done as planned, X means didn't do it, + means something unplanned happened").

Edit: phone typos.

2Do sounds like exactly the kind of thing I would use.

Apps like these tempt me to buy a MacBook.

A personal wiki that I wrote in 2004 (my first web app ever).

It's one step above text files, and purposely no more than that. Hyperlinking and availability on different devices is important to me.

It started as something like this (which amazingly is still online) http://infomesh.net/pwyky/

After 14 years, I have 3017 wiki pages of notes, and still use it every day!

This is a good strategy. To write your own thing, and not rely on Google and others, who insist that you log in and remain online just to write a simple note.

Yes, I often think of how many note taking and bookmarking services have come and gone in the last 14 years :)

By sticking to a simple wiki that uses plain text, HTML, and HTTP, you avoid a lot of churn, and can concentrate on the real goal, which is organizing and retaining knowledge.

It started as a CGI script, migrated to a server I can no longer recall, then to my own web server (an experiment), and is now a WSGI app in Python running on gunicorn, behind Nginx.

It also started using flat files like pwyky, but now it uses sqlite.

All the data was undisturbed throughout those technology changes, which is the important part.

Nobody else mentioned it which really surprises me but I use Google Keep.

Allows you to organise cards, colour code then, pin them and share them across devices.

Anyone else use this? I find it's simple and restricted UI reduces distraction; just you and the idea.

Also good for check lists, links and reminders.

Google has a history of abandoning its projects (https://gcemetery.co/). What formats does Keep export to?

Very true. The way they abandoned Picasa desktop was rotten. A family relative of mine, not tech savvy, loved Picasa. When Google killed it, and tried to replace it with "Google Photos" where everything must be put online, this was confirmation that Google wasn't fit for the task of offering dependable reliable software.

I use Keep for everything. I just wish it 1) wasn't owned by Google and 2) started up faster.

It lets me create searchable yet unstructured notes, lists, and photos. It's unbeatable in terms of simplicity and functionality.

> It's unbeatable

I highly doubt that. If it's just notes, you could make your own web app that did a similar job, without the bloat and unpredictable "product development cycles" of Google.

I mean, why tie your creative note-taking to "Google Corp"?

You can also share Keep cards with other people's Gmail accounts.

And if "other people" don't have or want gmail accounts then tough luck? Doesn't sound like a valuable feature.

Since I use Things for todo management anyway, I tend to write down creative thoughts there as task items under a "miscellaneous" project. Bigger ideas sometimes get promoted into their own projects with several tasks.

Things synchronizes between iPhone and macOS so it's pretty convenient for short textual notes. More complicated drawings and plans I put in Google G Suite.

I also use Things and Quiver (note taking) for 2 weeks now and it has grown on me.

I use to write creative thoughts in a text document or Notes on iOS. I never revisited these notes. The most important thing is having a dedicated system that you revisit daily to revise and refine the ideas / tasks.

That meant that the system I used needed to meet these criteria:

1. Accessability: I do my planning throughout the day, in bed, on the train, at work, etc. A physical notebook doesn’t work for me because there was too much friction in getting a notebook and pen out while in bed or on the subway.

2. Synchronization: Working on Mac / iOS. Thorough notes are taken on a laptop while on-the-go notes are needed for quick scribbles.

3. Indexing: Having a proper file system to organize and categorize thoughts. I’ve found that Things works good enough for 90% of notes. For other uses, I supplement it with Quiver for code related notes or food recipes.

4. Thoroughness: Having ability to write quick one-line notes or in-depth notes that sufficiently captures my thought is important.

I have dokuwiki installed on my macbook pro. Having a quick reference conveniently on local laptop is important for me because I should be able to access it even when offline. Having access to the wiki from different devices is not that important. Hence no cloud-based solution. The local wiki is added to the 'hosts' file. so http://mywiki in browser brings up the wiki quickly. Installing dokuwiki on mac is quite easy by the way. The sidebar of the wiki has items like: ideas, tomorrow, to-read, references, and items for each of the project I work on. When an idea strikes, I add an entry in the ideas folder . This helps because I know that it is 'filed' for later reference and as it is out of head, I can continue working on whatever I was working on. One advantage of the wiki over things like paper notebook is that it is quite searchable. For example, once I stumbled upon one video about a 'water from air' project (making water available in remote deserts by extracting water vapour from air). I filed it in a sub-page under "ideas " along with links that I could find. Then moved on. Didn't come back to it for quite some time. Then one day in some other discussion, the topic came up. It was quite easy to get back the links and references from the local wiki. The wiki pages are plain text files that I add to backup scripts (local and cloud). So it survived system failures in the past.

I've been recording them via my Android phone in the Orgzly app (org-mode mobile), which works very well for ideas and TODOs. I sync the files over to my desktop, where I edit them with a text editor and refactor them into my TiddlyWiki (personal wiki). It's been a game changing combination for me.

I'm hoping to make a GUI editor for working with the org-mode files produced by Orgzly, as Orgzly is wonderful and learning Emacs is pain.

Haha -- are you saying creating a GUI editor is easier than learning emacs? :p

For me writing is too slow. I carry a tape recorder and every couple of months I transcribe the ideas that I consider worth my time.

Lots of things sound stupid in retrospect.

In my case I use a combination of the following:

- a physical notebook (I always carry it)

- nth-priority-ideas.md file (I write down ideas)

- I have an on-and-off relationship with Evernote (as it is easier to sync it with phone and other stuff; though, cannot draw as easily as in my notebook, and not as distraction-free as a single Markdown list)

Most importantly, if I have no time for an idea (the best ideas stuck me when I am busy) I write it down and forget.

This might be against the grain here but I prefer simply to practice remembering things well, like humans did before writing was invented. Its hard but worth attempting. I usually engage in the thought for a while, thoroughly milk it by letting the mind wander wherever it pleases, and it typically stays etched. This has worked for a long time now.

I am someone who despises the modern human reliance on technology for just about everything, which IMO is weakening our abilities, be it innate or cultured, and I have been on an extended detox. Given that writing is one of the most pervasive technology ever invented, I am shunning it as well as much as possible. Now, in modern society, writing as a means of knowledge transfer, and thus reading, is inevitable, but it need not consume us and make us its slave is what I am saying. For instance, I do all the private software architecture design in my head and rarely use the large whiteboard on my home study wall. But that technology is so ingrained that I, like most people, involuntarily visualize written things even when just using my mind to engage in ideas. I just can't imagine how it would have been had humans never invented writing. I mean not just related to tech, which probably wouldn't have existed as we know it, but in general.

All that said, the only problem for me is wrt music. Quite frequently I generate beautiful melodies in my mind that I engage by humming, but quite often I lose them after half an hour of other activity. So I preemptively use my cell phone to record the melodies to work on them later. I kid you not, when I browse the list occasionally, there are many in my list from years ago that I don't at all remember had occurred to me. And even after listening multiple times, apart form a few melodies, I forget most of what I hear. It has baffled me no end. I will crack this case one of these days.

Totally agree - constantly trying to jot down thoughts as they occur is both distracting and can get overwhelming to revisit.

I was taught this technique that helped me strengthen my memory. In the afternoon and before going to bed, take 10 mins to mentally recall (and maybe write down) the day's events and thoughts.

Another helpful technique is to consolidate your thoughts on a topic by writing it out (or with a blog post). Turns out that there are only a handful of topics we think and learn about - so this simple solution works.

Doing this really drove home how neurotic and generally distracted I had become. I'd do some reading at lunchtime and by bedtime couldn't recall much of it at all. I don't know for sure, but it really felt like my memory was being thrashed by the music, websites, podcast, etc that came between lunch and bedtime.

First I'd like to say that I think this particular critique, that of considering to what extent we ought to offload our skills into various technologies, is definitely worth engaging in. It seems to me that at some point certain new technologies might very well have negative marginal value.

That said, this is a perplexing comment. Surely shunning writing "as much as possible" would include shunning HN comments.

I had the same experience of forgetting musical ideas when I had no means to record them. It was incredibly frustrating. Now I just use Voice Memos on my phone for that purpose (hum if I’m away from home, otherwise piano).

There are two things to do here.

First, address the qualities of the top of your ideas funnel. Needs to be quick, always available. Organization doesn't matter much here because ideally you'll be reviewing this with enough frequency that a giant list of random things isn't overwhelming. Whatever works for you, IM sounds like a fine idea. Sometimes i use Siri reminders because voice interface.

Second is organizing. The basis way to represent ideas and info is relational, and generally a hierarchy is necessary for compressing into bigger digestible thoughts. So something that can help you model in that way and do it easily. I use Notion because it is naturally hierarchical with it's pages embedded in other pages and the ability to dump in any kind of content. When the page gets too much content and it gets hard to organize I break it into subpages.

Occasionally I'll want to reorganize things and that's straightforward too. For me these tools work really well but like many people are saying it's important to recognize a good process too.

MobileOrg for capturing notes on a phone. Syncing via Dropbox with Org mode files on other devices https://orgmode.org/

I've not tried MobileOrg yet, but will give it a try. I currently use Orgzly, which is available through F-droid. It works quite well and has some intuitive swipe gestures for navigation and creating outlines, given limited keyboard functionality on mobile devices.

Constantly experimenting with different systems, both analog and digital, but never found one that clicked.

Evernote was good, but I felt like my notes went in and died. A graveyard of creative thoughts.

Lately, I’ve been spending more time trying to figure out how to revisit and make use of my creative thoughts captured in note form.

> I felt like my notes went in and died. A graveyard of creative thoughts.

I use trello for that reason, with different boards for different categories of ideas (fiction, startup/project ideas, gaming, etc)

Trello’s UI always feels very inviting to look back and restructure, reconsider etc.

Instead of feeling like you are just amassing a pile of trash, it feels like slowly building up and structuring my own personal encyclopedia of ideas and thoughts. A bit closer to the analog feeling of a scrap book.

I have three capture baskets. 1. On Computer: Org Mode. 2. On Mobile: Google Keep. 3. When Bullet Journal is around, that.

I do organizing once a week to organize it at one place.

I wrote a Bash command:

Scripts andi$ cat idea.sh #!/bin/sh

IDEAS_PATH='/Users/andi/Google Drive/ideas'

ARGS=$@ FILENAME="${IDEAS_PATH}/${ARGS// /-}.md" echo "--- date: $(date +"%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M")



A great new idea." >> "$FILENAME" macdown "$FILENAME"

Usage (aliased): Scripts andi$ idea my great new idea

Results: A markdown file in my ideas folder titled my-great-new-idea.md with automatically generated front matter (date/type). If I wanted to keep track of more things (like the weather or something) I can just script its addition into front matter and then query by type through grep or something similar. Also, the file automatically opens in Macdown (https://macdown.uranusjr.com/).

I use WorkFlowy and absolutely love it. Its essentially a bare bones version of Evernote and proud ...

Seconding this. Just beware you can't paste images/video/anything other than text and links to it. But if you can record your creative thoughts with that limitation I highly recommend it!

I love Workflowy. For me the single most valuable part of it is how effortless it makes it for me to write down some quick notes that I can get back to (or not) later.

Please consider adding an "other" option for gender. Thank you!

There are two important aspects here: getting ideas recorded, and organising them.

Note pads and text files are great for getting ideas down, but bad for organising them

If you can’t organise the ideas later, the whole system breaks down and you stop using it

I looked into different SaaS apps etc but they all had some features I didn’t like or were extraneous for me.

I realized the only way to do this was to create my own note taking app with a UI that was optimised for my way of doing things and would contain as few bottlenecks as possible for recording and organising

The result is an app where I can type something out in markdown format, apply tags, and then filter all my notes by tags

I uses local storage because I hate the idea of a login getting in the way of recording the idea

I always keep a stack of index cards with me, bound with a large clip. Every idea gets a blank card, and I don’t feel bad ripping them up. I store them in a box I made, and they’re easy to flip through and sort.

I also have a nice notebook with dotted grid paper that I use when I’m feeling more precise with my thoughts and want to capture them more permanently, or just more elegantly.

Other than that I’ll use TextEdit or Notes.app on the iPhone, but often will transcribe that stuff to a card so I have everything together. Some stuff I’ll leave digital if I know I’ll need to keyword search for it later. But, generally, physical cards are pretty easy for remembering where things are.

Index cards have been most effective for me too.

On those days when you are wondering what to do next I get them out and go through them. I add notes to some, throw some away. Some I break out into several cards.

There is something about the physical nature of the cards that makes them work better for me than any app I have yet tried

> I always keep a stack of index cards with me, bound with a large clip.

Sounds like the Zettelkasten system.

I'd like to try it. It sounds like a system you don't back out of, a system for life. How was your experience with it? Any caveats you'd discovered along the way?

I bought some heavy weight, dotted grid cards and they’re really beautiful. But be careful - you don’t want to get precious about them. Part of the appeal is tearing them up when they’re no longer needed, and using as many as it takes to capture an idea.

Ah, so it is different.

The Zettelkasten system seeks to save all of the cards and link to each other through a simple, but sometimes convoluted code of links. Its goal is to make all the notes into parts of a large catalogue.

Yours is more like what I'm already doing. I have a stack of wide yellow sticky papers on my desk, where I spend most of my work time. If I have an idea, I write it down on a sticky, stick it to the top-side edge of the table, and forget about it until the time of review. Once I'd transferred the notes to a more permanent storage – a to-do list or the outliner – I fold it and throw it away. (There's something more appealing to me about folding, as opposed to destroying the note.)

Using index cards might work out better for me, 'cause I'd be able to store them in a stack, rather than spread over the edge of the table. Worth looking into. Cheers!

I have the notebook layer and the App layer. A box of Index cards sounds to be a solid staging layer to add to my system. Thank you.

I see no one has mentioned Scrivener.

I love it because it allows ideas to grow organically from a single sentence to a whole book; or a single idea into a project spec and plan.

I use it to manage all my personal projects. They usually start off as an entry in my Scrivener based journal, and get a Scrivener document of their own when they start to fly.

The reason it's so good, is that the UI supports shuffling all the bits and pieces to structure and restructure the project as it evolves; and it equally well supports long form writing, capturing idea snippets, screen shots and webpage clippings.

Tools like Evernote are good for capturing, but rubbish for turning the bits and pieces into a single project.

As a hobbyist musican, I use voice memos on iOS. Once I have an idea I’ve developed on whatever guitar I happen to be playing, I can just whip it out and record a new memo. I also use it for recording story ideas, practice speeches, etc. Since it’s shared accross devices, I can review my ideas later on my macbook and even import them to GarageBand or Logic. The iOS notes app is also very good because it’s shared across devices in the same way. I an also an app developer and often have creative ideas, in which case the notes app is a perfect solution. If you don’t have Apple devices, I am sure you can use similar Android apps.

I used to use Yahoo Notes for this. When they shut it down I created my own web app for this, and now it is available to anyone: https://circles.app

Features: Notes can be accessed from any web browser. Web site is mobile friendly. You can share notes with others. You can encrypt notes. And the most important feature: You can download all your notes by clicking "Download all" and you get a .zip file with plain text files (with line breaks compatible with your OS).

Other features: You can save links to random websites, you can create lists, store some files and so on.

I make lists and jot notes in Zim. Additionally, if I need to actually organize my thoughts I use a freemium mind-mapping software on my phone called Simple Mind.

When I went to school for art (until I switched), I learnd that artists and writers have long used physical notebooks, but that you can't just use them as a convenience: you have to actually put effort into ensuring you put something in it each day whether you're feeling creative or not. And you have to go back and read it to critically evaluate what you're doing. It has to be a process, not just a reminder.

Use a spaced memory repetition app, like Anki https://apps.ankiweb.net/ or SuperMemo. (I am most familiar with Anki, which is free and easily syncs across phone and PC and web).

You can easily take notes and then there's a built in reminder system which is most efficient for keeping things in your brain's long-term memory.

I notice the reminder system also ends up making me much more creative, since I can more easily combine things together to make new ideas. That is a huge bonus.

Do you have some examples of how you store these creative ideas in Anki? I have used Anki in the past for memorizing things but not as a note taking memorization system.

Part of the value is just to be reminded of ideas I've had. But Anki can be used to support creativity in other ways as well:

- "Card browser" lets you view the cards in various sorting orders. Alphabetical, time of creation, last reviewed, next reviewed, etc. This is already better for going through cards than the Memo app on my phone.

- You can tag cards and sort by tags. (I think doing this also creates a memorization deck for each tag, too. I just don't use this feature...)

- I like to put "elements" into Anki which I think could potentially become a part of a creative idea. Being reminded of those things makes it easier to think up new ways to combine things, different ways to do things, etc.

- Like Michael Nielsen (who works for Y Combinator), I believe in putting everything into just a single deck. So I see a lot of random seemingly unrelated cards one after the other. I feel like this helps my brain to make unusual connections and relationships. (Nielsen's writings about Anki and spaced memory repetition- https://www.reddit.com/r/Anki/comments/8xi9r4/augmenting_lon... https://twitter.com/michael_nielsen/status/95776322945477427... )

- Cards can be starred or suspended.

- Visually, the design and flow of the Anki app is fantastic, in my opinion. I genuinely enjoy using it. Tons of user controlled settings, and nice Anki forums.

- Use of shared decks can be fun (publicly available decks).

Really though, the most important thing is getting the reminders, and having control over when I see Anki cards next. By keeping everything "alive" and stronger in my brain, it just makes it easier to remember things, think of things, see different possibilities, etc.

And you can put literally anything in there. I put in literally everything I think is worth reminding myself about. Attitudes, knowledge, quotes, tasks, task elements, ideas, notes about the people in my life, things that are fun, memories from my life, exercise ideas, foods, supplements, etc. etc.etc.

How about using plain files?

With files, you have the entire operating system at your disposal to manage them.

You can organize them however you see fit with folders. If you are using links, you can also create additional hierarchies.

If you are looking for old ideas, you can use grep or ag (silversurfer) to look for keywords.

The operating system keeps track of access times so you can restrict your search to a time frame.

If you use git, you have a full history of your versions.

With some discipline, e.g. you can use the first paragraph for a summary, you can easily extract content for meta documents like todo or priority lists.

For just jotting down ideas, a notebook, or I try to at least have a scrap piece of paper on me. I also ALWAYS have a pen on me. If I have no paper I will write on my forearm. You don't need to write the whole idea usually (unless you're half-asleep, or in the shower, voice memos are better in those cases), you can usually just jot down two words to remind you later.

I also use my phone, but typically for longer notes since it's a slow phone and takes forever to open the notes app.

When I have access to the notebook, I'll write down my ideas properly the moment I can.

If the ideas aren't important, I let the little pieces of paper accumulate until ~once a month, along with the notebook and the notes on my phone, I clean them and sort them into my computer. If you don't do this though, it becomes a pain, because it's often hard to decipher what the hell you meant by a note weeks later. Doing this also helps you form more connections/ideas from what you review usually. When I do this I also make sure to mark the idea as transferred since sometimes I might keep the papers or only transfer half (just the text when there's a drawing).

As to where I put them, I used to use Evernote to manage everything but it wasn't working for me so I switched to Scrivener. Until now it's not working for me either (too many notes), and I haven't found anything that works so now I'm working on my own solution.

What's your goal by writing these ideas down? How do you plan to process them later?

Evernote has a global shortcut to active: Cmd-Ctrl-E (like Evernote), which will bring the Evernote app into the foreground and positions you into the search field.

Then you can either create a new note with Cmd-N (like New), or you can start typing the words you a re looking for.

Are you sure something like that doesn't work for you?

Disclaimer: I don't use Evernote for note taking but for capturing what I read on the web and taking photos of documents and receipts. It's supposed to be like an external brain to me.

I also share this "capture log" publicly, so I can search it without a login from anywhere: https://www.evernote.com/pub/onetom/links

Search sucks in it though; often I end up just googling instead at the end.

I would also rather use something https://typora.io/ or https://caret.io/ for actual note authoring...

And I also agree that Evernote is a bit of a bloatware, but it's good enough, so I even pay for it yearly, since it can OCR the receipts I scan (and it also supposed to work offline too, though I haven't figured out how)

I've been iterating from using Gdocs towards simple dated text files. Last year it was by quarter, this year it's by month. I did have trouble with maintaining sync but finally bit the bullet this year and created a DigitalOcean instance dedicated to SyncThing hosting. SyncThing was working great previously just across phone and two local computers, but I had to remember to keep the remote machines active to have everything sync. So having one that I don't physically control is actually helpful.

The most important thing for me is to put dates, and sometimes times, on things. The second most important thing is, when I have a brainstorm, filter it into a coherent[0] set of ideas right then and there. My previous "idea generation" strategy held on too long to ideas that don't cohere. As a result I had many ideas that didn't go anywhere and weren't memorable. Making a coherence is much more powerful, since it creates a web of ideas that catch other ideas. My "hit rate" has improved a ton since I changed strategy.

[0] http://ludamix.com/dive/coherency/

I second the approach of using text files and syncthing.

Using a markdown editor on my phone and computers means I've always got access to view, edit and create new ones, even offline, that all sync up when I'm back online.

It works great and I'm not giving my data to anyone else.

Mindmap works great for me especially for creative process. My personal choice is Freemind. It's easy to automate anything with freemind files because it's simple XML. I have a few scripts that allow me extract necessary information from big mindmaps: https://github.com/mrjazz/freemind-tools-python

I would also highly recommend Freemind, and in particular, learning to use keyboard shortcuts for creating new siblings, parents, navigating and deleting etc. You should not need to use your mouse for anything.

> Evernote alike: never works for me. I hate the constant changing features/UI and the overhead of simply opening it

> (My pick) use instant IM to send messages to myself: the IM tool really doesn't matter. It could be mail app,

Agreed with this, I actually do both. I use OneNote, but I don't want to waste time opening the app. So I simply open my google inbox app, and send an email to "me@onenote.com". It creates a note with the subject of the email being the note title, and the content of the email is the note content. [1] I've commented in the past about that feature, I think they should advertise it more.

(One extra feature I enjoy with this is if sending URLs it also creates a snapshot of the webpage in the note , which can be pretty handy, especially since images are text-searchable.)

Another thing I'd do is save the thought as a Inbox reminder, but I switched to me@onenote.com, since it saves it both in my OneNote notebook, and in my "Sent" folder in my gmail account, the redundancy can be useful.

[1] https://www.onenote.com/EmailToOneNote

I have been unhappily using evernote. It's not terrible but there's small things that add friction to notes that I just want to get out of my head. I used to have a quick launch shortcut on my phone that opens a new note but it took longer than I would like to load and requires more input than I think is necessary. You have to enter a title, description then hit save. What I would really like is something like a todist interface to evernote where you can do something like: "This is a creative idea #ideas" <enter> and then it would tag the note and send it to evernote with hopefully very little lag. Or even better: "Note title" <enter> "Description #tags" <enter> And it automatically saves.

What I have started using which is better than the default evernote quick note interface is the IFTTT note to evernote shortcut. Its way faster than evernote but it doesn't support tagging so if it could do that it would be pretty much perfect for me, I think.

I use three tools:

1) Things app on my iPhone/iPad/Mac ( https://culturedcode.com/things/ ) - it's a quick place to jot down quick thoughts or notes when I'm in the middle of doing other things. (I use it for my "to-do" lists - and it syncs beautifully across my other Apple devices.)

2) MindNode ( https://mindnode.com/ ) - if I have a group of thoughts, or if I have a few minutes, I'll often create a quick mind map with MindNode and collect my thoughts there. (It also syncs beautifully across all Apple devices.) I also have a couple of specific mind maps for tracking projects or article ideas, etc. So if my creative thought falls into one of those, I'll open up the mind map and add it there.

3) Evernote - For longer lists or ideas, I'll typically create a note inside of Evernote. I've been using it for years... although with many of the UI changes and general uncertainty about the company's future direction, I'm considering migrating my collection of notes/notebooks to something else (so I've been reading this HN discussion).

I'll note that I'll use these three tools together. Often I'll jot a note into Things... and then later expand upon that into a MindNode mind map or an Evernote entry. So one is more "short term" capture of thoughts, while the other two are for longer term - and longer form - capture.

The challenge of using 3 tools is, of course, that there's no easy way to search across all of them.

P.S. And many times when I'm going to events, speeches, conferences, etc., I'll bring a pen and a notebook as that can be the fastest way to capture ideas.

I'll put in a plug for my stack: SimpleNote (plain-text, unencrypted synced notes), with the app Notational Velocity (http://notational.net/) on my work computer (OS X), Notation (https://www.blogsdna.com/26052/notation-a-simple-and-efficie...) the Windows clone for home, and Notational Acceleration (https://apkpure.com/notationalacceleration/com.kludgenics.an...) on my phone. None of these are official or maintained, so I will probably have to give up on them at some point. SimpleNote's official client is...fine, but the instant-search-edit UX of NV is unbeatable imo.

I put all my bigger ideas in public on Trello with hopes that someone finds the board and makes any of the ideas for me so I don’t have to.


All other smaller thoughts and ideas usually get written into atelegram’s saved messages and then get processed on mac later.

I've heard the Leonardo Divinci would use sheets of blank paper so that he could later re-arrange concepts easily and draw.

I know you'll also need habits to make it work, otherwise, you'll write, and never review. I'm having this trouble myself. I use vim wiki to organize but I never do come back to much of it.

Anyways I think the answer is, in the abstract, more of a process than a tool. Something that you can easily form a habit with and something that allows for creative expression (like writing or drawing, or programming or linking). I'm envisioning a digital book where the pages can be drawings or writing or snippets of runnable code. Easy to rearrange, probably you want to track historical changes, and make connections between things. I don't know of anything that does all of that but I think you could get pretty far with a reminder to review stuff and just sheets of paper.

I was using Evernote heavily. Probably too heavily, as it’s frustratingly slow now on my iPad and Mac. In the last six months I’ve switched to Trello. Great to use it Kanban style, but it’s also a great pasteboard for image snippings from the web onto your cards. The checklists and due dates within cards is useful, but also dragging to reorder so you can rank things by importance.

For a working notebook when developing, I’ve switched to using Markdown inside Atom with a number of plugins. I used to really like mindmaps, but I find that nested bullet structures can do the same job but be captured much quicker. The plugins do nice things like partial bullet tree collapsing, instant Markdown previewing, and Vim keys which are great for me.

Might well move towards Notable backed by Google Drive, as mentioned on a thread here a few months back. Also a utility to extract my Evernote data to be included too.

I don't really have a cohesive overarching system, but I probably should. Quite often, if I have a paper notebook nearby, I write ideas in one of those. Unfortunately I have several such notebooks and stuff gets spread around, and there's obviously no indexing / search capability except manually scanning through all that stuff, which limits its utility for finding stuff later. Truthfully, it's close to being "Write Only Memory" at this point.

If I'm not writing in a paper notebook, I often just email stuff to myself. In theory I could put some kind of special tag or annotation in these emails and then set up some kind of system to programmatically process them and build an index or promote them to a wiki or something, but I have yet to get around to doing that. I can at least search my email for messages from myself though, and quickly find them.


I used put all my ideas in a google doc, plain and simple. But then I started realizing that all my "great" ideas just rotted away because I never had the time or will to make anything of them.

So I started building a (very simple, and rather ugly) web page where I could put my ideas, and have other people (family mostly...) look at them and make comments etc.

To me it makes great sense to open source ideas, and let anyone comment and contribute to them. This way they can grow into something much more interesting.

If anyone is interested in having a look, feel free to do so at https://www.innoventory.com . Anyone can look at the current list of ideas, but to post your own, you need to create an account with an email address (btw, the "artwork" is not up to date with the domain name, but you will get the idea)

I can completely relate to you and and I have ended up with step 3. I initially started with a slack for myself - but the free version is very limited for serious notetaking. After some research I settled with Zulip and hosted it on digital ocean.

Slack's UI is probably better, but zulip's UI is nice too. It offers multiple clients - web, ios, command line. I don't use the command line client as I find myself using the web much more.

I keep a tab open and when I am not in front of the computer I use my phone.

Of course, you need to be connected all the time. I write down take a picture and post it whenever I'm back online.

Search works right out of the box - though you wont get OCR for free like OneNote/Evernote. Something that I am looking forward to is writing (i)bots to automate some workflows (like ocr) (ii) integrate with other productivity tool chain - todoist and trello.

P.S. Its written in Python!


1. mindmap that syncs all devices, type on your phone, see changes on TV immediately

2. super intuitive gamified keyboard shortcuts (no need for mouse); super intuitive mobile gestures

3. has node-level in-browser encryption via tweetnacl so if you provide a crypt key, only you can see what you typed under a crypted node - crypted data looks like gibberish in the db and there is NO way to recover it, except you provide your crypt key. If you lose your key, you have lost the data under all crypted nodes, forever

4. copy/paste nodes to/from freeplane/freemind directly onto your map

5. full disclosure - I am the developer and working on a second release, sign-ups paused for now but I can open it up for signups if there is interest in working on the beta - I use it to organize my entire life

It sounds interesting, but that page is just a login and no info. Can you provide a screenshot or something? I like the mind-map idea and want to see how you are doing that.

here you go https://imgur.com/17XxTmX

all these are equivalents [CRYPT][SAFE][HIDE] etc

there are also other commands such as: [VISIT][PEEK] that allow you to navigate and edit a different mindmap so that you don't have to leave the one you are currently working on

eventually I want to be able to combine commands like so: [SAFE]send Cindy key - [AT 2130] - [TEXT 7732049384] - the key Cindy is expecting

in the example above Cindy would receive a gibberish text message around 9:30pm, but you get the point

I usually toss the ideas around in my head for a little while and then I will write it up and keep it in Google Drive. It may be a page or a few pages, or a half a page. I create a folder for the idea and then put the document inside that. What I do not typically do is go over my old ideas, which might be a good idea. But I think the act of writing the idea down goes a long way towards crystallizing it in my memory, for is I ever want to revisit it. (Back in college, I would take notes in class, but never review them.)

Most of the ideas get touched only the one time. Some I come back to and expand on. And some actually become projects (which is what I call the root folder where I keep all these, "projects").

If the idea does become a bigger project, I will often have many more ideas and they will get written up in the same folder.

Sounds to me you've got down the routine of capture. That's pretty awesome and you're ahead of the curve.

What you haven't talked about is the routine of review. Sounds to me that's really where you want to spend your efforts.

If capture is picking fruit, review is squeezing juice out of the fruit you picked.

Thanks for your advice! I agree with you that reviewing is important. I do iterate over a few alternatives before I begin using a private Github repo to organize my ideas that worth picking up. Github wiki/issues/milestones/projects work amazingly good.

On the other hand, I am not very happy with my current random ideas picking strategy. It is really nice to see there are many alternatives in this thread.

To quickly jot down a thought for later, I use 2Do (runs on all my devices). That's as small an overhead as I can get in my digital world. Every once in a while I review what landed in my inbox and move the ideas to a different list, rewriting and expanding their descriptions.

To sketch things, I use the Concepts app on my iPad. Once you get used to the convenience of drawing something, then circling it with your finger and moving it to the side, it's difficult to go back to paper. Highly recommended. I do a lot of drawing/sketching, it helps me think (even though I can't really draw, my drawings are really just a bunch of text with arrows).

Then once a year or so I review all my oh-so-creative thoughts turned into notes and I realize with sadness that I had no time to do anything about any of them.

The best way to store your ideas is to memorize them. This is the ultimate goal. If they are baked into your consciousness, they become an automatic part of everything you do.

Humans have a long evolved history of memorization. Before we had writing, we had to memorize the things that mattered. Don't forget that this practice is baked into your genes.

To get there, it helps to write down your ideas, and to organize them together, reflect on them, find patterns in them. But the actual medium doesn't matter as much as the practice you follow. Remember that when you are writing down your ideas, you aren't dumping them into an offline store -- you are making them nice and pretty and well-organized for your brain to remember them as you write them down. Write them down to fill in your brain; not to offload.

I appreciate some of what you say, but:

1. I'm skeptical of a claim such as "But the actual medium doesn't matter as much as the practice you follow". I recall hearing about studies that show tactile experience (physical writing for example or being physically present during a lecture) forms better memories, at least in many people.

2. I strongly disagree that the best way to store your ideas is to memorize them. First, memorization isn't feasible, information-wise. Second, memorization is not most people's general goal. I would suggest a more general goal is to recall the salient features of your ideas and connect them to your task at hand. This suggests a mix of storage mechanisms: some memorization (i.e. for indexing, summarization, and connecting) with other higher-bandwidth, less-error-prone storages.

To prove my second point with a counterexample: I highly doubt that visual artists can remember every brush stroke on their favorite canvases. It is more important, arguably, that they organize their work in a way that they can refer to it. And, for the purposes of creating future work, I doubt that memorizing exact details of previous work is the most important. Remembering the inspiration and the techniques is probably more important.

Could not agree more with this, especially for creative ideas or knowledge that is most useful when instantly accessible (ie mental models and facts/concepts that help with making decisions when you can’t do a bunch of research beforehand).

To help with this internalization I made a chrome extension that lets you review your ideas using spaced repetition in new browser tabs. Check it out if you’re interested https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/forgetmenot/nncbpj...

Index cards.

POIC is a useful basic framework. Don't let it get in the way of what works though.


Bullet journal.

I use Trello and have a specific list for ideas. It works for me because Trello is always “with me” as an app on my phone, on my desktop, or via a browser. I tend to have creative thoughts while out running and use speech to text to add a new card through the iPhone app without stopping.

I use speech-to-text on my iPhone inside a gmail draft notes on the go as well. I'll keep adding to the draft then email it to myself. I'll also use VoiceRecorder app that can do speech-to-text after the fact.

Email. I send emails to myself with a specific tag in the subject like "idea, todo, read later, thought"

I've tried various todo/organisation apps and I just find email to be the easiest for me. There's filters setup for each of those subject tags and I sure have a lot of em.

Since most of my ideas seem come out of thin air, I usually send an email to myself with a rough idea. Then, I create a Google Docs "Word" file with further details if the project develops further.

I tag the emails with "Project Ideas" in gmail, so I can sort them later to review.

Directory full of Markdown files, synced across machines/devices via Dropbox. On supported platforms (iOS/Android/OSX), I use iA Writer to edit them. On Linux, I use vim/goyo and Typora.

I find that this is the most flexible and multi-device option, which then makes it easy to copy-paste content into other tools and places (email, GitHub, GDoc, whatever).

For very quick mobile notes, I also use Pushbullet to send myself a kind of "reminder" to pick up a thought from my phone and continue the thought when I get to my laptop/desktop.

I also have Simplenote installed everywhere (including simplenote.vim and native apps across Android / iOS / OSX / Linux) which I tend to use to quickly jot down notes during meetings, but for little else besides that.

I organize everything in a series of org files -- books, music, work ideas, movie list -- that live in one folder synced in Dropbox and can be accessed through multiple machines, including my phone.

If I need to jot something quickly, I use my phone's note app or regular pencil and paper.

Shower thoughts that may amount to something is first repeated out loud. Only when i vocalize them they can stay in memory long enough to be recorded by any means necessary.

I send myself emails, record audio, then in the end everything is converted to .txt file on structured dropbox folders.

I'm probably too late to the game, but here goes anyway.

I feel that not enough people are mentioning outliners -- essentially lists within lists within lists.

My favourite one is Workflowy, which exists as both a web app and a mobile app. I have top-level nodes for the major areas of my life: personal, relationship, work, house, hobbies, etc; each is then further broken down into smaller topics until they end in actionable points. You can even share parts of your outline with others (with read-only or edit access); for instance, my kids's wish lists are shared publicly to avoid unwanted or redundant presents; I have also shared nodes with my coworkers as a canvas for group brainstorming.

Outlines also work well within a GTD (Getting Things Done) context.

As an Asana user, I email myself and cc Asana. That way I have an ongoing list of Asana tasks that are my ideas.

Honestly, I rarely get to them though. Usually if an idea is stimulating it keeps coming back over and over and it’s irrelevant whether I wrote it down.

I love the idea of "Steve" or "Ariana" at Asana thinking "Oh, another email from whiddershins, better write that down for him into his account. Good on you, mr. whiddershins!":))

I write them down.

Now for the bit nobody will care about:

If the thought’s really worth it, I will get up, find a notebook, and spend quite a lot of time transcribing it. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at writing blind because a particularly pernicious thought keeps sleep from me at least once a month.

Every so often, I’ll read through my notebooks and try to synthesize these notes into something better. Often, the really good nuggets are lodged so deeply that I wind up remixing them durably within a few days anyway.

If I don’t record it, I’ll probably forget that I thought it soon enough, so I can only ever feel a few days’ worth of regret at any one time. And there’s still too much material to work on anyway.

> If the thought’s really worth it, I will get up, find a notebook, and spend quite a lot of time transcribing it.

I keep a notebook (or a substitute) by the bed, for the very same reason. Writing most ideas down is worth it, in a sense of developing a habit to write all of them down, regardless of how much they're worth at the time.

I'm writing this story, where chapters are broken down by the song the main character listens to, which reflects his emotional state. I've had this great song idea for a sudden shift in atmosphere when his abuse ex messages him out of nowhere, after years apart. It's an emotional whiplash for the character.

I'm kicking myself for not writing the title down. All I remember now is that it was perfect for it.

> All I remember now is that it was perfect for it.

Always hate it when that happens. The bad part isn’t forgetting — it’s remembering that you’ve forgotten.

Commonplace notebook in emacs, several moleskine notebooks and a digital voice recorder.

Which voice recorder do you use if you don't mind sharing?

Perhaps this is not applicable to creative thoughts: I usually have "project ideas" that come up randomly. I have recently decided to stop investing any time on them. I simply observe the ideas and let them pass. What I notice is that some of said ideas, keep popping up. I continue the observe and pass process. Usually this process leads me to naturally filter ideas with the little cycles I spend in making a note/observation and letting the idea pass. I am trying to not actively invest too much time into ideas as I have a observed a personal tendency to "make things fit" and introduce biases.

I'm not the documenting type at all, but I do have a habit I developed of writing my current "state of mind" before the weekend, so that I'd remember where I left off at the start of the week. I usually remember my ideas during the day or so of thinking about them, it's usually during longer breaks that you forget about stuff. You never just "forget" stuff, it just goes "cold" in your memory and you're less likely to remember it when you need it. Find a way to remind yourself of stuff when you need it - notes are useless if you forget they exist.

I just use a crappy notebook app on my phone. I'll revisit it from time to time, and if there's anything there that's actually useful, I'll make an effort to move it somewhere more permanent. I find ideas have a short shelf life, so I just want something simple.

I have Orgzly set up with Syncthing in my phone for things I actually care about. I don't use emacs, but I like that I get notifications about things on my phone for scheduled things and I have a backup on my computer if my phone dies. I plan to learn emacs orgmode at some point, but I haven't gotten around to it.

I write it down on A4 paper, often with diagrams. When I have time to develop the ideas, I make few skethches some of them to be thrown away.

I put them to a ring binder together with project notes, specs etc. Works well with note block papers with holes or classic papers & hole puncher. Ocassionaly I review the content of the ring binder, throw away outdated stuff and make note of forgotten ideas worth developing more.

I like Feynman problem solving strategy: keep two or three problems in back of your head and when you encounter interesting method, try applying it to the problems you keep in your mind.

OneNote, am I the only one?

No, surprised not to see it higher on this list honestly!

I organize everything in chronological order generally one time, two times max

1. on phone > color notes on android

2. at home desk > a physical notebook, draw things on paper

3. while typing > I have a chrome extension I click, type a few things, press enter, gets sent to my notetaking app.

I check (2) once a week, (3) once a month. (1) is on a per need basis if I remember an event and notes I took from it.

(1) is just random notes from conversations and events. If its important I'll funnel it to either (2) or (3)

If its urgent and I can act on it right away, it goes into a stickynote

I don’t keep track of random ideas anymore. I trust fully that I won’t run out of ideas. Writing down every idea you have is a symptom of anxiety in my book, or to be more precise, a lack of trust in yourself.

I eliminate whatever is unnecessary to make progress with my work and keep just one README.md on the progress I’m making. If an idea is critical to whatever it is I happen to be working on I write it down on a piece of paper, to be consumed quickly by the README.

It’s freeing and it’s made me considerably happier at work.

I swear by Workflowy.

I am not an artist; if you need to be sketching things, you will have to keep looking.

Workflowy is a near-perfect outliner aka list of lists that consciously avoids adding features that aren't absolutely necessary. Complaints people have are always things like "but I can't assign dates" or "but I can't assign a task to someone on my team". The correct answer is, "exactly".


Notes app (native to iOS & OS X)

I went all in with Notes.app, sounded so appealing with much more potential features unlocked on iPad Pro with a pen, as well as iCloud web accessibility.

Then it failed syncing.

Then I noticed search doesn't work over note titles.

Then it prevented me from having more than 100 attached links (yes, links, not files) per note. Hard-coded.

Then it started crawling performance-wise. Slow startup, slow scroll.

Currently, I'm at file level when on desktop, and on paper when not. I'm not particulary happy with this either, but at least I'm aware of limitations at all times.

Blame me on not being a good mac-tizen. But a few years ago one day Notes.app somehow failed to sync and all my notes are gone. That day is the day I chose not to believe anything that "just works".

(I didn't bother to figure out what goes wrong. These notes are throw aways anyway)

I use a folder in Google docs and try to write about a one page pitch/core-idea with a small box in the start that has the summary. Honestly my main problem is I never have the time or will to act on any of the ideas from the past 10 years.

I have ideas from games to T-shirts to apps to frameworks but working a SWE job and your general age 30+ responsibilities it's hard to execute on any of them.

For smaller ideas and week-month TODOs I just use a Sublime Text that's always on.

I used to have an emacs setup which I ditched because I was tinkering with it too much. :)

I switched to Things 3 on Mac/iOS which I love.

Things 3 is both my GTD app of choice (it runs my life) and my inbox where I catch everything. When I have a random thought/idea I just add a new to-do in my Inbox. Then when I have the time, or at least once a week, I go through my Inbox and add more detail to the task, and try to make it actionable or store it for review at a later date.

I like the texting yourself thoughts ideas. I have been known to carry around a pocket voice recorder so that I can whip it out and start talking about an idea.

For me, the combination of iA writer and iCloud works really well. Desktop or mobile—both syncs without problems. If idea is compelling enough, I might later write it down as a blog post and remove original writing from my computer.

I also keep a notebook next to my bed, because for me sometimes good ideas emerge when everything quiets down. I transfer any writings to a digital format while I'm drinking coffee in the morning.

I made a web page for myself (and family/friends) where we "open source" our ideas, and which allows users to "vote up" ideas and contribute to them etc. Feel free to have a look at https://www.innoventory.com ! I mean, why not share all the great ideas instead of burying them in some document somewhere :-)

For the past 10 years, I've been emailing ideas to myself.

Recently, I started using Google Keep.

This year, I plan to build my own solution (unless someone convinces me otherwise).

I replaced an unknown number of physical notebooks with a iPad + an Apple Pencil + Apple Notes app. It's definitely not quite pen and paper, but I can refer to 1000's of pages in an object the size of moleskin-like journal. I don't have email or messaging on the iPad — it's just for reading and writing.

If it's something that doesn't require a sketch, I just use a plaintext document.

A new iPad Mini with Pencil support would be pretty compelling to me as a note taking platform.

I started using the "hipster pda" after reading about it on hn, I love it. Goes wherever I go and I can reorganize pages easily. Unlike digital notetaking you can also do doodles, flowcharts, and mockups. I have an index card box to archive them.


I use Notion.so. I have a page where I put all my thoughts no matter what they may be. Then I review it weekly to see what can be tackled next.

Unfortunately, Notion does not have a browser extension yet so you always have to open the website or app to jot down something, but I hope this will come soon.

If you want to add notes without opening an app, you can try Google Keep. It has a Chrome extension that works really well.

I use Simplenote[0] for this since I always get random creative ideas and thoughts throughout the day; SN being cross-platform allows me to jot them down mostly on my phone and then reorganize/expand later on the desktop client.

It's also open source, and from a company that won't go bankrupt anytime soon.

[0] https://simplenote.com

I use an app I made called ghostnote which basically allow you add attach notes in context of what you are doing currently working on. But I like your idea of using messenger or something like that as a, even more, laissez-faire approach

The whole point is to write the idea down, not so much remembering it (unless you literally have the melody for a hit song or the algorithm for the cure for cancer)

When I was using an iPhone & mac as my primary tools I had siri create reminders "write a tool which does.." which were synced to caldav & regulary auto-imported into my GTD inbox (omnifocus).

I really liked this solution since it was reliable. The synced entries were deleted from my phone automatically so I did not have to worry about an endless list of tasks on my phone.

Using Siri is really neat, you don't even have to unlock your phone I assume. :)

For the same reason (complicated changing UI etc) do not use any special apps. But the standard Notes app on Mac OS or iOS works just fine.

Hmm have you thought about Rocketbook? It seems something you might like. It works like a physical notebook but then you can easily put your stuff to cloud or some other storage. Haven't tried it though.

edit: To be more precise I thought about Rocketbook Everlast: https://youtu.be/FL2aOGwm3Ak

Simplenote. It would be nice if it allowed me to attach images or other files, but it plays nicely with every device I have, and makes it easy to jot things down.

The other tool I use is the Remember app on my phone, but only because it allows indexable voice messages. Hit the button, say my piece, and it's there for me later. A quick aide memoire when I'm on the go.

InkDrop https://inkdrop.app/

Google Keep

Physical Moleskin Notebook 4inc x 2 inch in back pocket

.txt file where I write quick stuff in terminal

I do not have one source but a combination of mediums to jot down my thoughts. I prefer that than having a centralized place because different thoughts and ideas are better conveyed in different ways.

Wunderlist is where I landed 5 years ago after many failed alternatives. I like that it’s primary interface is a simple entry box with an add button. I can review my ideas periodically and add more detail. It’s very cross platform and very simple; and in the years I’ve used it the app hasn’t experienced the typical feature bloat.

I also use Wunderlist, after trying many of the other tools described on this page - text docs, paper notebooks, audio files, etc.

I think the cross-platform support is crucial, which is why I was dismayed to learn that Microsoft acquired the parent company. I don't want to be tied into a Microsoft account to use Wunderlist, or see second-rate versions of the tool become the norm for the non-Windows platforms. Strangely, Wunderlist has not been shut down nor have people been forced to migrate (yet) even though this was announced a few years back.

I still use paper notebooks from time to time, especially when I am listening to someone talking or I need to digram something out.

I write them. I carry around a good quality physical notebook and a couple of pens that I particularly like, and make an effort to spend some time writing every day so that it's a habit.

My notebook is A4 and sits alongside my laptop: if I have my laptop, I have my notebook.

I find the act of physically writing things down is really important for my process.

We've created a dedicated app for this purpose - to keep track of our ideas. Maybe you'll find it helpful for you too :) You can check it at https://idee.mindhouse.io

It's basically a note app dedicated for ideas so you can get back to them in the future.

I've created https://mediatag.io just for this goal. It makes it easy to add a page, a note, an image. Just with a single click if you're in a rush. Or if you have a tiny bit more time, you can add tags to organise what you've just saved.

I have two Siri Shortcuts. One records audio which creates a ticket in the “To be triaged” column of my Thoughts Trello board, and the other does the same but transcribes.

For more technical stuff I use whatever is the nearest technology to the source of the problem. Eg when doing web dev I use Chrome Snippets or codesandbox or Slack.

Unless the ideas are absolutely critical I mentally explore them and then let them slide on out of my mind. Great ideas seem to strike more than once and I am better prepared to act on an idea that has come up multiple times vs one that I just came up with and feel certain is the greatest idea ever (for now....).

I am using a mix of Airtable, Notes app and Markdown files. I like organizing my thoughts in a tabular fashion, and Airtable comes very handy, since I can see different thoughts at once and compare them. If some thought needs a long text to describe, these generally go to either Notes app or Markdown files.

I have a locked twitter account for raw unfiltered idea. If you have an idea or a thought tweet it to your self!

Pen/Paper as default. When on a computer, an outliner/mind-mapper. Of late, getting back to Scapple[1]. You guys should try it.

1. https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scapple/overview

I jot down very basic ideas on the most convenient medium I have at the time - often, it's gmail on my phone (write to myself).

I later organise them using mural.co (originally it was called mural.ly) which is a web whiteboard which I find very good for organising different kinds of materials, links, etc.

I generally write stuff in a book, especially when I am not on the computer. When I am on the computer I will often use computer files (I don't use any particular software other than a text editor), sometimes in addition to books. Sometimes even IRC in order that I can get comments.

Wallet sized index cards. I put thoughts and ideas. They can be sorted and copied to elsewhere if it's something that gets implemented.

I also use Google keep for all product and Tech ideas. that's if it definitely has an implementation or it's a task or thing to research.

Pocket moleskin for daily log.

A file called ideas.txt.

In retrospect I should have put it under version control; nearly a decade's worth of ideas and no clue when most were thought up.

Ideas for my active project/startup are organized in a relatively more disciplined fashion and consist of multiple text files under version control.

Emacs org mode

Love org-mode once I finally had the courage to give it a look and a week facetime/learning. my org-mode file has everything from general knowledge to ideas to everything that can be written in text in between.

yes, absolutely. I also use xmind too.

I write them down in Things and group them into projects, makes them easy to search and organize!

I don't use this for keeping track of my creative thoughts but I use it for journaling.

I use Rocketbook. It's a physical notebook but you can also scan it and directly upload to your cloud storage of your choice.

It has 36-pages which you can erase with just a wet paper towel.

I use Apple Reminders for an ideas list. The cool thing about it is that you can set a reminder for when you are in a particular place. That way, whenever I get to my local cafe I get a little popup that reminds me to take a quick look at my list.

I have a notebook in Evernote to capture ideas. Whenever I submit them they automatically get populated into a Google Sheet (using Zapier).

In that way, I can review them on a weekly basis and add more parameters such as rating, difficulty, next steps, etc later on.

If this dispersed collection of ideas from so many minds ticking away over time holds potential to improve the world, can we tap it?

Is there some way to make visible and actionable this potentially vast resource?

An open source model for ideation?

A marketplace for ideas, insights, observations?

Honestly? It reminds me of Twitter, or what the platform enables. Like how the OP just sends themselves messages, it's easy to open up Twitter and send out a bite-sized idea to share across the world.

Mastodon could probably fill a similar niche

Notebooks. Leuchtturm 1917 with enumerated pages and table of contents, more specifically.

I use a combination of a physical notebook for graphical stuff and elaborating things, Google Keep for any kind of random thoughts and ideas, and actually use the dm-yourself thing for collecting/bookmarking links I wanna revisit.

I tried Google keep for a while (a few months I think). But later I find dm-yourself is faster than Google keep so I abandon using.

I think the law of least effort applied to me.

I add those “creative ideas” to a todo list. It is better to keep them short, after a while when I look back and see the idea, if it sounds meaningful I continue otherwise I delete it.

Keeping them short and simple avoids procrastiantion

I email myself with the idea. My compulsion to keep inbox zero then forces me regularly notice it after some time. After a while, if I'ms till excited about it or it makes sense I tackle it, otherwise delete.

I use vimwiki to keep notes. It's not synced out of the box, but as it's just a directory with text files, you could make it so. If I'm not with my laptop, I just make a note in Google Keep.

Thanks, I use vimwiki for a while a year ago as well. I think it is more suitable for idea organizing. Later I replaced it with a private github repo using issues/wiki/projects.

I used to use a physical whiteboard but quicky ran out of space... Now I use the free account of realtimeboard.com

Also I link out to Google docs etc within it. However its not the quickst tool to get an idea on record...

Evernote has been working ok for me. I organize things under lots of different notebooks and tags, and the search feature makes it easy to find things. Sometimes I will write something in a Google Doc.

Simple text files, in markdown format. Currently working on a few little tools to manage them, including a simple web-based editor. That will let me take notes on Mac, iPad, Android phone, etc.

I use Trello for this purpose. I have a Trello board with a laundry list of random ideas that come to me. Those that mature get their own card on that I start jotting down next steps etc.

If I'm working on my computer, I write use an app called Quiver. If I'm feeling more like brainstorming and just wanting to be creative, I write my thoughts in my Moleskine.

Apple Notes App. Very simple. Just need to write a sentence or two to usually remember. And if it's really interesting, I draw on a random piece of paper, and take a picture.

The most important thing for me, and as you mention, is the accessibility aspect. The father something is, the harder it is to remember to jot down something. The notes app opens really fast on both Mac and iOS, whereas Onenote can feel very bulky.

Same as my shopping list, use IFTTT to add a Trello card using Google Assistant or similar.

It's the fastest way to get those thoughts stored, and I always have my phone on me these days.

Do you need to somehow maintain IFTTT once in a while? (Even if it is once a year)

hey lordnacho, how to contact you directly?

I'll write you an email.

Writer+ on android

For software related ideas on a project, a notes file in the project folder

For ideas I don't really intend to revisit, I write them in any piece of paper I can find and leave it around

I use owncloud notes. It has desktop, web and phone clients. It is mostly just a sync facility but I have found it very useful, especially as the notes as kept as text files

I use simplenote it updates instantly on all my devices, I can send links while browsing. I find it very usefull and don't miss notebooks and scrap of papers at all.

I keep a standard notebook by my laptop. I've tried other things. I just like writing by hand for some reason.

Longer thoughts or ones I want to access remotely go into google docs.

I bought a Surface Go with the pen for that exact purpose and use OneNote to take my notes and keep everything in sync between the tablet, my PCs and my Android phone.

I keep an ongoing text to email chain going on between myself. When I'm not at work I text my personal email and when I am, I email my cell phone number

You can start a chat with yourself in WhatsApp: https://messageyourself.com

Index cards, often i want to do a small sketch so pen and paper are best. Make sure to put a date on the cards.

For rewiewing they can be easily clustered and amended.

I use todoist, I have one project that contains my random creative thoughts. i review them and remove those i think are useless from time to time.

I did that but then I wanted to group ideas, links, etc. to have some kind connections. I moved all stuff from todoist to FreeMind. I still use todoist to quickly note stuff because app synch is great, I have it on my mobile. But then when I have some time I move it to mind maps to have categories and see which ones are to be skipped and I don't care.

I use bitbucket repositories for every topic I'm interested in. There I keep track of the all the writing that I do, in markdown-files.

Pen/pencil/paper, or git. That's it!

dont worry. if the idea is any good it will come to you over and over again. i used to write down all my ideas. on paper, the phone, compter, notes. but when I look back at them i cant imagine how i thought they where good ideas. sometimes i get really good ideas from dreams. i have a pen and paper beside the bed. wake up to write it down. then go back to sleep.

I like to text myself that way theres always a subtle reminder of what i was thinking since i look at my messages multiple times a day.

I still bounce between physical notebooks, and Laverna. I spend regular time consolidating stuff into stack order I can follow up on.


+1 for Dynalist! I have always struggled with the balance between structure (e.g. trello boards, spreadsheets, ...) and keeping enough freedom to easily jot down new stuff and discarding or expanding it as I go (the other end of the spectrum would be one large TXT file i suppose).

I came across Dynalist through workflowy and was instantly hooked as you don't feel bad for just throwing something in and not following it any further, while also having the option of structuring your information really neatly, throwing in tasks, going back and finding earlier notes, etc.

For me it works for almost everything from drafting outlines for writing through task management, keeping track of research, study notes for books & courses, etc.

I use Dynalist for everything these days - inbox, task, planning, notes, long-term storage of important information. So much, that I'm actually worried that I do not have full control over my data (I have backups at least, which is nice).

It's fine but too expensive. I moved over to Notion.so recently

How is Notion for solo users? I am a Dynalist user by recommendation on Tildes and love it, but I saw Notion recommended a few times. It seems like more of a team-oriented product though.

It's free - only a few features you need to pay for. I get along fine without them

I need good support for images and that's under the paywall

I use Dynalist as well and I really enjoy it. I've been using it for about 2 years now.

My ideas I find most valuable are product ideas. I stand my iPhone in front of the whiteboard and explain the idea in one video.

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