EXTERNAL BRAIN: DIGITAL NOTES KILLED THE ANALOG WAY

November 7, 2017 — Leave a comment

There is an idea that multi-tasking is the way to go. I know I can’t do it. I remember reading somewhere that it’s actually mono-tasking on steroids. Whatever the case, it’s almost impossible to keep track on things if I’m flipping back and forth between various things at the same time. Especially, if you have your phone sitting beside you and the notifications is on.

Our brains, as it seems, just can’t handle it all. For me, when it comes to prep work and planning my schedule, it’s, even more, a mess so the best thing to do is get it down — on paper or app. That way it becomes an external brain.

The pocket journal is the writer’s sidearm when venturing out into the wild west of inspiration. It should be a habit to jot everything down. No matter how much you think you will remember, you’re going to forget that you even had that thought. Triggers could eventually unlock all that stuff you were boiling and mixing in your head but ultimately, you’re not going to remember.

But since this is about change, I want to highly suggest that not only we keep a pocket journal as the emergency standby but to fully utilize the modernization of keeping notes and just fully embrace an online ecosystem of notetaking and productivity apps.

For me, it’s essentially Google apps and particularly — Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Drive.

Because, since there’s so much to remember and many decisions to make, why even bother wasting some of your precious decision-making power in doing the mundane tasks and keeping track of your to-do list? That’s why we have decision fatigue and it explains why CEOs dress the same outfits daily.

But not only that, it’s also very important to note the overall day and if you’re already straining yourself in the morning until the evening. For example, I have two schools I’m working at and by the time I get to the break time in between, I’m feeling really depleted. At times, it’s so hard to get myself to prepping any kind of work because I’m already drained by the 6 hours before.

The best thing is to just hole myself in my classroom and just let it all loose and relax for a half hour before trying to piece together a decent plan for a lesson for the evening.

Still, it’s a pain.

And so, I had taken the liberties to create a Google Form to help the input of lesson plans so that it can be automatically formatted and saved to my Google Drive. It isn’t perfect, but it allows me to quickly get my ideas down quickly.

The second method of trying to save time and maximize my thinking power is to try and get some decent sleep and at least keep my fuel going. When you got a lot of guts, it’s for nothing if you ain’t got the fuel to keep that fire burning brightly in you — so I’ve been living off sandwiches and don’t even have to think about it. Fruits have helped a lot but I admit, coffee has been my shot of adrenaline when it comes time to perform at 6.30pm class.

The last thing is to simply utilize notes collect and plan and remind me. Originally, I’ve been a classical/romantic kind of guy — always thinking of the nostalgic methods of yesteryear. I’m still a big journal kind of guy but there isn’t much efficiency if you’re just writing shit down and not really coming back to it unless you want it to be a form of time capsule writing.

I’ve been really trying to get myself going at the Google Ecosystem of apps. I have always used Gmail to a great extent and pretty comfortable at Google Drive and their various apps available for creating documents, spreadsheets, and decent slides for presentations. What I haven’t done was REALLY it completely so that I have it running at full power.

Google Keep and Google Calendar are the two main apps that I’m refreshing my usage for. Calendar for long-range planning and Google Keep for short-term ideas and plans and to organize my thinking. And the best thing is that they can easily crossover and be accessed practically anywhere and by any computer available as long as there is a good internet connection.

My phone and computer setup are not the best for what I’m intending to achieve (one being really shitty as the battery is degrading and the other is a tad too heavy to lug around comfortably).

I have to supplement myself with the usage of 2 external batteries that are about 8000mAh each — which is a ton of power to keep my Nexus 5 running. And I’ve been using any available power outlet to top it off as much as possible. As you know, it’s really dying these days but the way its setup and with all the apps I’m using, it’s practically perfect if I can just get the right mix better.

And so, this is where I suggest we find a way or system to help maximize our note-taking system and conserve our brain power. As much as I love and still use analog methods to assist myself, I’m slowly accepting the changes that digital and the internet age has brought and fully embracing the possibilities to just get myself together.

One could quickly get things written down and uploaded as a draft through various ways as soon as possible (sometimes I could email myself through Gmail or post it on Google Keep or even WordPress itself). And I’m really digging how it’s making my workflow smoother and giving me a chance to not worry about some of the crazy shit but just setting reminders and alarms to do must of the heavy work of remembering.

Again, it ain’t perfect and it isn’t going to run itself for your life, but as a tool and a way of supporting your workflow more efficiently, I believe that we should all accept some form of external note-taking app so that we can just keep it available to quickly access when we need to convert it to a document or file.

 

 

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