Documentation paralysis

I have a problem.

It’s a problem with taking notes and keeping track of my thoughts.

My problem is that I come up with ideas and thoughts that I want to remember and come back to, but unless I document them, I might never find the same thoughts again. (Because my memory kinda sucks. And because I am an idea hoarder.)

So I document. A lot.

I write it down on paper, on my phone, in Note Pad, in Google Keep, in Google Docs and now lately in WorkFlowy and Tabs Outliner for web pages (and now also this blog).

This means I can find my information, but now the problem is finding the right note when I need it and to easily be able to navigate all this information.

To fix this I’ve been trying multiple methods. But my main method is this:

Elliminating – Removing or rewriting the information that is no longer true or that I know isn’t useful anymore.

Tagging and labeling – Putting on labels and tags on notes so I know what it is about and what it is related to without having to the full text or it’s content.

Chunking – Collecting notes by concern, category, function or similar tags and then putting them in bigger documents that are structured in chapters.

Synthesis – Finding notes that tackles the same issue but with different words and merge the notes to remove what is redundant between the two.

This has taken me from 1000s of notes of particular issues to 100s of (really huge) Documents of particular concern. (Separation of concern?)

What I mainly have trouble with now is

  1. Automating the above process. Right now I still take notes the same way which forces me to later take time to connect it with my bigger documents. When I document I feel a need for jotting it down quickly and continue with whatever I was doing without too much of an interruption. That is why the information is put on whatever material I have nearby.
    1. One solution could be to train myself to take notes in a consistent way to eliminate this two step process.
      1. Use one platform. Keeping everything in the same place. As I said, right now I use papers, Google Keep, WorkFlowy, Google DocsNote pad and Tabs Outliner for webpages (and now this blog). It’s too many places to look at when searching for particular information.
      2. Use one vocabulary / type of language
      3. Make my information so searchable that I find the correlated information to connect with quickly.
      4. Train on merging it quickly and effectively with these notes.
      5. Simplifying the steps of the process enough so that I’m confident I want and can do in a way that doesn’t take up all my time.
  2. Making the bigger chunked documents easy to read and navigate. I which to find a better method for this as putting it in a linear document with chapters creates an artificial separation of information by linear structure that documents have. I’m thinking about mainly using tagging systems to link information in a network structure instead. I’ve been experimenting with this in Google Keep but having too many notes on one Google Keep account (1000 > or so) makes the searching and loading times too long to be anywhere near to practical. I also feel like Google keep is a bit too unreliable as it lacks history functionality of edited documents, so you can’t track changes effectively and it doesn’t afford sharing chunks of information with others as it only allows for sharing one note per link (and only to people with google account). I also think it lacks a good link navigation feature, as users can only create local hyperlinks with tags but that’s about it. If a user links to particular notes or particular search queries then the whole website will reloaded (and in the app version it’ll open the browser of your choice first and then the app), which is a very inefficient way to navigate + long urls aren’t pretty…

All of this might be sort of a hoarding problem I have. My thinking is that the ideas and thoughts might be useful sometime so I’ll keep them. I should open up more and give people my ideas, because if I find them important and helpful then they are probably that to some other people too. Just need to organise them more!

End of rant. See you. ❤