The peril of choice is paralysis. The more options in front of you, the more factors you have to weigh.
(That might be too deep for a Thursday morning.)
Enter stage left: note-taking apps.
I’m developing a love-hate relationship with note-taking apps. There’s no shortage of amazing note-taking apps. Each have their own unique twist. Agenda made date-driven notes popular. Craft has moulded documents with Notion’s block-based structure. Roam Research revolutionized the backlink.
They all rock. Every note-taking app is simply the best.
Until they’re not. Until you look around when something doesn’t immediately click with a minimal amount of friction.
Perhaps that’s only me.
Lo and behold, I’m on the hunt for another note-taking app. Really, I’m on the hunt for a hoarding app — an app capable of saving, categorizing, resurfacing, connecting, and storing random internet junk I find interesting. The ability to create actual, you know, notes is mostly secondary. Though required.
I’ve tried so many at this point.
For the longest time, Bear was my note-taking app of choice. It so easily captures screenshots. It has the best tagging system on the planet (Apple stole the feature in the latest version of Notes in iOS 15). But the app hasn’t meaningfully changed in years.
Then it was Roam Research. The power of backlinking, in the palm of my hand! Roam’s power is/was unprecedented and I’m not sure I’ve yet found a larger “Oh my gosh!” reaction to any new note-taking app since. Alas, a combination of cost and tiredness had me looking elsewhere. Also, it may have been lucky timing.
Then it was NotePlan, a lightweight, Markdown-based app that seamlessly handles bullet journaling. I moulded my daily work tracking into NotePlan at the same time. Back then though, NotePlan didn’t handle attachments very well — read as “not at all” — and I was back on the trail.
Most recently, it’s been Craft. Craft is the closest I’ve come to sheer glee working on a Mac. Only Things 3 looks better. Only Notion stores better. Only Ulysses writes better. Only Roam connects better.
You get the drift.
Craft’s daily notes are a fantastic feature and have worked very well tracking my work over the last few months. Storing research, preparing procedure and workflow documents, and clipping webpages inside Craft has all been a breeze. There’s really very little left wanting.
But recently, I’ve come to feel a little inferior for Craft. It’s clear the app is designed for creating documents. Notes, while possible, are less clear. What’s the proper structure for capturing a one sentence tidbit? Should it be part of a different document? A page? A card? A document unto itself?
I tried writing in Craft for a little while, too. I’m back to Ulysses now. The ability to publish to this blog directly from Ulysses may be one of my favourite features of any third-party app.
So I’m back on the hunt. Again. Like always, it seems.
My current focus is on Notion. I’ve worked inside The Sweet Setup’s Notion now for a little while and have come away impressed with how mouldable the app can be. I’ve adopted a bunch of the workflows and ideas in a Notion I’m creating for our accounting office. And each step of the way, I come away more impressed with Notion’s power.
That said, I’m mostly lost in how I want to organize my own personal notes. I’ve collected under 1,000 notes over the last few years. Mostly screenshots, quips, tweets, URLs, articles — the usual. They’re all tagged five-ways-to-Sunday as they’ve made their way through four or more note-taking apps. Trying to organize them in databases in Notion has been tricky.
Another quick point or two: Notion has become increasingly integrative across a range of other apps and services. I have been reading a lot inside Matter and you can sync your Matter highlights directly to Notion. You can automate a variety of tasks in Notion. You can clip articles from anywhere on the web with Notion’s iOS web clipper.
We’ll see if Notion sticks. I’m pretty impressed. But I’m not in love with the design.
I’m not sure if that’s the dynamic duo for a long lasting note-taking relationship.