This is a brief description of how I make my ‘notions’, which are permanent notes I keep as part of my private digital garden (titled ‘Garden of the Forking Paths‘). I choose a title and type “.nu” which inserts the current timestamp (as shown above in the title), ensuring unique titles. I use Alfred (and previously used TextExpander) for such keyboard shortcuts. This means I don’t have to use e.g. the ‘Zettelkasten’ plugin for my note taking tool Obsidian, or deal with the fact that such plugins never precisely match your personal preferences. It also means I can change my process anytime I like.

If the notion is based on a blogpost or presentation or other material I wrote, then I will change the timestamp (and the tags at the bottom) to reflect the date of that post / presentation / document.

Then I write the content of the notion.

I include at least one link to an existing notion e.g. something like [[Notes input tactics 20200728173504]], but usually more.

If I think it needs more work then I can do now, I add the tag #aanscherpen (Dutch for ‘sharpen’)

Where applicable I include references of one or more of three types:
Ref: something I just directly name here, a person, book, or ‘my presentation 2018 at conference X’
Ref blog: the url to one of my own bloposts
Ref Zotero: something that can be found in my reference library in Zotero.

I add tags of different varieties, either inline or underneath the note’s content:

  • tags naming the reasons and associations why I made the note, what triggered my interest. (An article ‘the 10 biggest tech developments to watch in 2021’ might be tagged ‘prediction’ and ‘2021’ e.g.)
  • tags as the terms with which I think my future self should be able to find them,
  • tags allowing search in different languages (I write notes in 3 language, but have notes with parts in at least 4 other languages which I can read ok enough to keep the original),
  • tags denoting some status or action (urgent, waiting, sharpen etc)
  • tags which look like #2020-, #2020-09, #2020-0913, which represent the year, year and month, and date of the creation of the note. This is done by using a shortcut (“/now”) as well. These tags allow me to search by year, month and exact date, as well as allow me to create timelines if needed. E.g. the screenshot below shows my Notions dated July 2003, found by searching the tag #2003-07