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I take a lot of notes. Every time I try a new technique, or get trained by a spirit, or just think of something to try later. Last month I wrote 4,000 words of notes — that’s roughly 16 pages in a book. A very dense, poorly written book…
When you take that many notes, you need some way to organize them. This post is about my method. It’s not the best, but it works for me. Maybe it’ll give you some idea that works for you, too.
I use three text files: Notes, tasks, and summary.
Notes is the actual content. That’s the 4,000 words last month. Each session I do, I write up, then separate them with a dashed line:
(Just two dashes. More just seems too slow.)
At first, that was all I did. Just notes, separated by dashes, written in a text file. And it grew and grew, and I could never find my old notes to review. So I organized.
First step: One notes file per month. So, I have one file for Jan 2013, another for Feb 2013, and so on. I have those monthly notes going back to November 2008, then sporadic notes back another five years.
But I’d also have notes on future work, things I wanted to test but hadn’t gotten around to. They’d get buried in old text files I rarely opened. So I created a Tasks file, which has 3 parts:
Tasks starts with overall goals for the year, along with a record of where I am right now with all my skills. “Communication – Level 4, Physical effects – Level 2,” like that. (The levels are how my trainers organize their techniques. I use it to track my goals.)
After that, my tasks each week. It starts as work I plan to do, then I revise it to be what I actually did. I usually plan 1-2 days ahead.
Then, a giant, ever-growing list of things I’d like to research. Right now, it’s about 9,000 words, or roughly 600 notes, based on my word / paragraph counter. So yeah, a lot of those tasks are still buried, but at least they’re buried in a file that’s actually open.
(Sometimes, I do look through there. I always hope that, now that I know more about how magick works, the answers will be obvious. They rarely are.)
What to do with the list of tasks I accomplished each day? Can’t have them clogging up my tasks file. Instead, I store them in the third text file, the summary. Every month, I paste the tasks I accomplished into my summary file, along with a 3-line summary of my big projects that month (so I can find the right month later). When I want to refer back to a particular note, I find right month in my summary file, then and ctrl-f the topic.
Except that if I spend a whole month research communication, ctrl-f is a hassle. So last year, I added dates to my notes file. The first note of every day, in addition to the two dashes, I add the day, like:
– – (wed)
On Sunday, I also add the date. And if I don’t do anything on a day, I note that there were no notes, like:
– – (no notes mon-tues) (wed)
That does two things. First, it lets me see when I’m slacking. Seeing that is painful, which is the point: By making it painful to slack off, I have fewer slacking days. Second, since my weekly review organizes everything by the day, this makes it faster to look up a particular day’s notes.
So that’s how I organize my notes: One notes file each month, separated by dashes and days. One tasks file, with long-term goals, daily tasks, and a giant list of open questions. And one summary file each year, to look up what I did. It’s not perfect, or even elegant, but it works for me. Hopefully that gave you an idea that’ll work for you, too.If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.