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. ❤

Talking about my weaknesses

Things I need to deal with

Fear of exposure

Openly talk about myself, my feelings, my interests, my thoughts and my beliefs. Guess it is rooted in fear of being judged, Fear of not being liked, Performance anxiety,

Communication

Hard time expressing my thinking. I think a lot but it is not always easy to convey what I think to others. It’s partly because I like to think things trough and compare it to as much of the knowledge I already have before deciding what to do with information and it’s also that I enjoy listening to other people to get their full story and understanding their point of view. A lot of people’s deep thoughts are never heard if you don’t take the time to listen.

My expression problems are probably also related to my fear of exposure which I stated above that partly discourages me from interaction but also has a tendency to stress me up when interacting with people, especially people I find interesting and amazing, because I am like “This person is awesome, I don’t want to fuck things up.” Then I worry a lot.

Uneven “energy” distribution

I feel like I have periods of low energy and periods of high energy.
I’m not really aware if there are any consistent cycles. Like when or how or why or what it is that triggers it. Seems to be different in different situations. And also “energy” is a very vauge term. So I need to pinpoint exactly what I mean.

First I would describe it as partly a physical aspect. Like I actually feel less capable doing things, I feel tired or heavy in my body, I don’t think as clearly and I generally don’t seek doing things and prioritise sleeping or resting activities.

Sometimes it is combined with a sensation of stressed stomach, heartburn, lower temperature of and something a sensation of tingling in hands and feet.

Related feelings could be described as low and is usually in combination with sensations of stress.

Things that experience helps:

  • Sleeping and resting.
  • Calming music.
  • Long periods of stretching, yoga, meditation, etc.
  • Making sure to go out, get fresh air and some sunshine.
  • Slow stomach breathing.
  • Meditation.
  • Taking off time, doing something fun. (In my case, playing piano, drawing, starting a new project, learning something new, etc.)
  • running (Only helps sometimes).
  • Standing up! (Especially in regular intervals on days when I’m doing a lot of work sitting down)

What I’ll test in order to deal with this problem:

  • Planning for and implementing the things I experience helps.
  • Find ways of regularly measuring the phenomena over time.
  • Measuring what activities it is correlated with.
  • Being more specific about
    • Physical sensations
    • Feelings
    • Situations

Over scope!

I would call myself a pretty distant minded, I zone out and can usually be internally focused on ideas and dreams. Think about many things I could do and end up doing just a tiny bit of everything. I believe I learn a lot as I cross many ideas! But I don’t get a lot things implemented in my life right away.

I’m also really open to new ideas and a bit to easily convinced to jump onto projects I don’t really have time for, believing too much in my future ability and not considering the infinite spectrum of things that could go wrong.

Organisation

I’m fairly unstructured in my thinking. I like to just zone out and let my mind wander between thoughts. I day dream a lot. There is not a lot of intensionality behind it when I do it, it more like just happens. (This is the main reason why I go by the domain Focusless.net as I think it describes my thinking.)

What I need to work on more is to be more attentive and structured in my thinking, in my documentation and in my actions to get some sort of throughput from internal world to the external world.

  • I need to do things with more specific intentions.
  • I need to stop starting over and start picking up  my own projects I believe in the most.

Knowledge navigation

I feel I have deep knowledge pools but for me it takes time to navigate between them. Basically memory navigation. I think deep about issues that I’m pondering in any given moment but it can be hard for my brain to go quickly between subjects.

I have a tendency to start over or repeat my work but with different words instead of embracing previous documented knowledge and iterating on it. I believe it is mainly caused by a sense that I need the information now and I don’t have the time to navigate and find my memories or documentations about it. Sometimes it is hard to identify if it is something I’ve pondered before, just that I’ve pondered it from another angle so I don’t recognise it.

This is both about my past self and other people. I somehow prefer dragging ideas out of my current conscious mind instead of just reading my notes and notes of others which in reality would have helped me better and faster. I guess I don’t want to rely on notes. I want to be able to be creative and generate information in the moment as opposed to just repeating some specific script.

Interestingly there seems to be a trade off for me between consistency and creativity. Both are very useful in different situations but I can’t really handle both at the same time.

Finishing

Sticking with things and being strict about following them through is something I have trouble with. I know I am capable of finishing. But I need to take the time to consistently work until it sticks. I’m aware of my tendency to get back to sloppy work or old habits. Usually in situations where I believe I am under stress or pressure.

Being hyped to start but stopping when I feel tired. + not being strong or motivated enough to pick up on where I left off the day after. Basically addicted to starting over?

It goes through both big picture, like bigger projects and small picture like how I write.

Here is an example of how I wrote this post:

I have a vague idea of what it is that I want to write about and communicate. I come up with a lot of anecdotes but then I get lost in trying to describe it as a bigger picture in a structure where these anecdotes makes sense. Like how do I put them all in a coherent text that can be followed linearly and then be understood? I try categorising my anecdotes into some form of chapter structure? Like if they are all separate problems that you can deal with individually. Even though I know they are all big bundle of problems, more like a sphere like interconnected systems of elements that interact with each other in unique ways. Writing this document is like taking this sphere and just trying to find a way to flatten it out into a one dimensional sequence of words and characters. There is just no way you can simulate the bigger picture with linear text. Some things will be disjointed, so I’ll have to focus on the most important ones.

So part of it is about calming down and slowly observe what I am doing, focusing on what I believe is most important to see if it is really what I want in the long term, focusing on one habit at a time until I perform them naturally, consistently and without effort.

Keeping track of specific things. I can’t remember names well, I can be bad at remembering specific words for things. I remember general ideas and scopes and ranges of systems and processes more than I remember specific examples instances and happenings.

Maybe I should just leave this post incomplete just like it is, as I am starting to get tired. Which makes this blog an example itself of the problems I try to describe.

I might never pick this blog post up again to “finish” it. And maybe it’s incompleteness is what makes it perfect after all. (Too meta.)

I’ll continue identifying and trying to deal with weaknesses. Iterate on them one step at a time and building systems up slowly.