January 2022 Daily Notes
During my weekly review each Monday (in my task manager of choice Things 3), I’ve been assigning tasks I want to do throughout the week to specific days. This tends to clutter up my Today list by the end of the week due to items I haven’t completed rolling over each day. I decided to try using the Anytime list as my weekly list, and putting everything else in the Someday list, making it my backlog of sorts. The Today list will then only have my daily recurring tasks, and any tasks that truly need to be completed that day. Once my Today list is complete, I then go to the Anytime list and knock things off that list. I’m thinking of adding priority tags to the Anytime list, but I want to see how using it as my weekly list works out first to see if I really need to do that or not.
I have an app on my iPad called PlayJS that allows me to edit and push up the code for my website. It's been really nice being able to work on my website from my iPad, which I also have a physical keyboard and mouse for. Lately, though, the app has been crashing each time I've tried to write my daily notes. There are other, less convenient ways for me to publish content to my site from my iPad, so I've been using those for the past few days. I finally decided to reinstall PlayJS in hopes that it would help. So far it has, and I'm crossing my fingers it'll continue to work. The convenience of working on my site from my iPad has been a huge help to me in consistently delivering content, and I don't want to lose the momentum.
My family and I have a meet up every week where we talk about our side businesses / projects. It's a great way to see what everyone is working on and keep each other accountable for our goals. It's really helped me make progress on this website, and gives me the motivation I need to keep going on it, as I know my family is reading my content at least.
In a recent meet up, I was talking about my plans to redo my old Keys to Productivity Sketchnotes in pixel art, and my dad gave me some valuable feedback. He said he really liked the style of the original Sketchnotes, and that I shouldn't abandon them. I've thought about that as I've been trying to motivate myself to work on the pixel art versions, and realized I don't actually need to redo the Sketchnotes. They're pretty good as they are, and there's no reason why I can't have multiple styles of images on the site. Not everything has to be pixel art, and quite frankly, doing pixel art Sketchnotes is hard. It doesn't lend itself to quickly capturing ideas, which is what Sketchnoting is all about. So, I've decided to abandon the pixel art versions of my Sketchnotes in favor of simply updating them in their current style to be more current content-wise. I'll be able to publish them much faster, and I'll get to focus on another pixel art project I'm looking forward to working on. Thanks dad for your feedback!
I've been working on my first large pixel art project for the past several months, and I've finally completed it! It's one of the many temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of which I'm a member.
Originally, Productivity Dudes was meant to be a joint venture between myself and couple of my coworkers who were also greatly interested in the topic of productivity. As happens, life got in the way, and so far I've been the sole contributor. I'm guessing it'll most likely stay that way, which is totally fine. I've enjoyed building up the site on my own, and have no intentions of slowing down. However, the name Productivity Dudes doesn't fit as well if there's only one contributor. It also doesn't allow me to expand the site beyond the topic of productivity to include other interests. I have my name as a domain, and I'm thinking it would make sense to convert this site to use that domain. It'll remove the no longer applicable pluralization and allow me to evolve the site into whatever I desire. I'll most likely make the change when I'm ready to deploy the custom template I plan to build, and have this domain redirect to the new one.
I was doing a walkthrough of Obsidian for someone who'd never used it before, and I was reminded of just how customizable it is. A lot of what I was showing off were things that I had adjusted in the settings or from plugins I had installed. I should have created a default vault to show off because I couldn't remember anymore what settings I've changed and what comes out of the box. It also reminded me how much I love the customizability of Obsidian. I can make it suit whatever needs I have, and it can easily change and evolve. It has help me improve my writing skills, and my ability to make connections between ideas. I'm so glad I made the switch from Notion to Obsidian.
Obsidian has a lot of plugins, so there's a lot of ways in which it can be customized. One plugin I was looking at is called Dataview, and it allows you to organize your notes in a database sort of way. At first I was like, "Great! I can build some of the views I had in Notion!" I was about to install the plugin and start organizing my notes with it when I realized I was once again falling into the "organization first" trap. One of the big reasons I left Notion was because it had a such a focus on organization and structure that I wasn't getting anything out of my notes. I don't want to end up in the same place with Obsidian. I want my organizational structure to emerge organically, plus the Dataview plugin would require me to add specifically formatted meta data to every file in order to use it. I don't want to spend a bunch of time adding that meta data. I've done that too many times before. This has been a huge test for me, and I feel good that I recognized the trap I was falling into. I like the way my notes are structured right now, and there's no need to make huge sweeping changes.
As I've been thinking about building a new template for my website, it's made me think a little a bit about what I want the future of this site to be. It came about because people at work would ask me about my productivity knowledge and I wanted a resource to point them to. I'm not sure if that's all it will be, or if it will become more. These thoughts tie back into the idea of emergence I've been thinking about the past couple of weeks. Perhaps a greater purpose will emerge as I allow the site to evolve organically over time. Perhaps I'll expand into a YouTube channel or something someday. For now I think I'll just take it one day at a time and see where it goes.
I'm currently using a pre-made template for the website, and it's been nice in a lot of ways, but kind of restrictive in others. Some things have been relatively easy to tweak, but there are larger structural things I'd like to change that aren't so easy. I had a brain blast of ideas last night that I'd like to include in my own custom template and created a new project in Things to capture them. I can continue to use the current template for now and work on getting my fully customized template developed. Would like to get that done sooner rather than later.
As I've been focused on letting my note organization emerge organically, I've discovered a couple of things I need to keep in mind:
- The structure of individual notes can be different (e.g. the structure of every book note doesn't have to be the same)
- The organization of notes can continue to evolve after an initial organizational structure emerges. I'm not locked into anything.
As promised previously, here's what my weekly spread looks like in my Bullet Journal, with an example of what an event looks like.
I developed a set of letters I want to use for the smallest text on my Keys to Productivity pixel art Sketchnote project.
As there are varying sizes of text on the original Sketchnotes, I'll need to develop even more typography at larger sizes. The bulk of the text will be at the small font size, though, so I should be able to get most of the text done before needing to think about what the larger text will look like.
I find myself starting to fall prey to the idea that my daily notes on Productivity Dudes need to be well formatted, polished pieces of writing. That’s the default thought my brain goes to when considering content to put up on a website. That’s not what I want the daily notes to be. I want them to be whatever thoughts I’m having or notes I’m making that day. They should be raw and unpolished. My intention is to share my process, not only for others to benefit from, but for my future self. The daily notes acts as a reminder to me that finished products don’t just spring into being. There’s work involved in getting them to their finished state, and seeing the steps I took to get there helps in moments of discouragement. These notes are for me first and foremost, but I hope they can help those who may be looking at the polished works of others and thinking to themselves “that’s amazing, but I could never do that”. These notes are my attempt to “work with the garage door open” so to speak.
As I was looking through my notes to organize them, I came across the idea in several notes about letting your note organizational structure grow organically instead of imposing it right from the start. I tend to jump straight to imposing structure on my notes, which results in me stressing more about organization than on thinking and learning. I’m training myself to not worry about organization and just let the ideas flow. I very loosely implemented a structure for my notes, one I hope will be flexible enough to allow me to evolve the structure as I go along.
I had fully intended on working on my Keys to Productivity pixel art project, but I became distracted by an Obsidian based YouTube channel / website, Linking Your Thinking. The guy who runs Linking Your Thinking, Nick Milo, has a workshop where he teaches how to set up your own personal knowledge management system inside of Obsidian based on his LYT Framework. The workshop is rather pricey, but he has at least some of the materials available for download (LYT Kit). I don't have the kind of money he's asking for the workshop, but I appreciate how much information he's made available for free. I feel I've been able to get a pretty good grasp on his framework, and am going to be spending some time incorporating some of the ideas he shares, especially MOCs (Maps of Content) which are basically general topic notes that have lists of links to other notes. I like that his framework provides just enough structure to make it easier to find stuff again, but not too much that it becomes stressful to manage. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel and website (linked above) to learn more for yourself.
Book: Better Than Happy
Been reading the book linked above, and it has been life changing. I will more than likely be sharing notes from this book in multiple daily notes. Here's a quote from the introduction that I really liked:
...what we truly need is not advice about what to do--we need advice about how to think.
This is what the book aims to do: to give advice and teach us how to think more deliberately. Our thoughts are reactions to circumstances (things outside our control), our feelings are generated by what we think, which then inform our actions, which produce some sort of result. If we can better control our thoughts, we can in turn control our feelings, improve our actions, and better influence the results. The ideas are simple, but very powerful. I've already felt a big difference in my life by not just accepting my default thoughts and really trying to be conscious of what I'm thinking.
More notes and thoughts on this book to come!
Some notes I took while exploring the topic of Evergreen notes on the website linked above:
Grow and evolve over time
“Atomic” (about one thing)
- Notes that are Atoms can then build to something larger
Concept driven (single concepts rather than entire books of information)
- Building upon the atomic idea
Structure emerge organically
Many links and connections between notes
- Spaced repetition
Write notes for yourself by default (don’t have to make sense to anyone else)
I really like this approach to note-taking. In the past I've spent so much time making sure my notes are organized, structured, and would make sense if others read them. It was a stressful way to take notes. Lucky for me, my note-taking app of choice, Obsidian, lends itself perfectly to this Evergreen approach of taking notes with it's excellent backlinking features. As another way to make my notes more Evergreen, I've removed most of the folder structure I had in place. It was wasn't very extensive as it was, so it didn't take long to remove. At the heart of all these changes I've made to my note-taking in the past month or so is my desire to improve my ability to think and learn, then pass the things I've learned on to others. It's what I love doing.
I started working on the pixel art versions of the Keys to Productivity Sketchnotes. I looked through my pixel typography book for ideas on how to do the heading text and tried out a few fonts. I found a couple I like, but realized my canvas is going to be too small for all the text I need to include. I plan to use the same typography I used for my Second Brain diagram for the smaller text. Here's the original Sketchnote I was working on today. It's an overview of all the Keys to Productivity.
I posted some more legacy content on the site today, a set of comics I wrote for Productivity Dudes a couple years back. You can find them under the Legacy Blog Posts section. They’re based on myself and my somewhat obsessive compulsive tendencies. I hope you enjoy them! Check them out here.
Productivity Dudes has gone through several iterations over the course of a few years, and I finally got it to where I wanted it at the end of 2021. Earlier in the year, however, I had written a few blog posts that I didn’t include in this latest iteration, yet I feel could still have some value. I’ve decided to include them in their own section of the site called Legacy Blog Posts. I also finally published my article What I Like About Things 3 I’ve been working on for about a month, so it was a good day for content!
As part of my preparation for the upcoming year, I filled out something called a Reflection Canvas I got off a site called Presto Sketching a few years back. Instead of setting specific goals, you write down things you’d like to think about, care about, or do less of in the coming year, and things you’d like to think about, care about, and do more of in the coming year. I really like this approach because it helps you to let go of things that are not serving you and replace them with (hopefully) better things. You can check out the original blog post, and get a template for the reflection canvas on the Presto Sketching Blog.
Happy New Year! I know it's cliche to say it, but it's hard to believe another year has passed. I finally realized my goal of launching Productivity Dudes in 2021, and I'm excited to continue working on it in 2022! As part of that, I published the Daily Notes Archives section of the site that I talked about in a couple of my daily notes last month. You'll be able to find all my previous daily notes there organized by year, then month.
The first major content updates I'll be making in 2022 are updated versions of a series of Sketchnotes I did several years ago called the Keys to Productivity. Not only am I re-drawing the Sketchnotes as pixel art to match the design aesthetic of my site, but also updating the content as some of it is a bit outdated. I'm looking forward to revisiting them as they are the core principles around how I think about and approach productivity.