On Second Thought… Thinking Before Sending

I tweeted Monday “having a scratch text file to cut and paste stuff you want to think about before sending/posting/saying is one of my better ideas…”. This elicited a couple of responses, a bit to my surprise, as I was basically saying it out loud to myself as a reminder to use this principal. I have all too often fired off an email, tweet, forum response, or comment on a post full of knee jerk reaction, emotion and haste. Only to regret it as soon as I hit send, wishing I had thought through the ramifications of the response.

I wanted to clarify a bit on how/why I do this. As I’ve said, the main reason is if I have this unsaved text file already open, then I can quickly cut and paste the response to this file, move on to what ever it was I was doing before writing the response, and revisit later. This is different than crafting thought out responses in advance of posting or replying, which as Sean suggested in one of the responses to use Notational Velocity. I have well documented my love of Notational Velocity, and do indeed use it in this scenario. These are thoughts that I ruminate over, that I want to save even after posting or sending.

I also didn’t mean to suggest that this was some ground breaking idea or that it might be completely original. It is simply something that I have found works for me and prevents me from putting my foot in my mouth or worse. It allows me to get something off my chest and get the emotional element on paper, but move on without any ramifications. If after some period of time I still feel the need to respond to what ever it is, I can go back to this file, pull the relevant elements out the response, and temper the emotional aspects and pragmatically respond. However, if after some time, I feel the response is unwarranted or moot, I simply let it go. Having it as an unsaved file, I then figuratively “let it go” by closing the file without saving. For what ever reason, I feel if I save the file, I’m somehow hanging onto these thoughts which I’ve already deemed unworthy of sending. Hanging onto these thoughts, whether figuratively or literally, I find unhealthy for myself. They simply are added baggage to an already overfull luggage rack in my mind.

Note Taking Nirvana?

notebook collectionLike most, I’ve struggled with note taking and mind dumping solutions. I’m easily caught up in chasing the productivity pr0n, looking for the perfect system (hell, I gues by writing this post, I’m still doing that). At first glance however, with the discovery of my most recent set of tools, I believe I’ve found the most streamlined, cohesive solution yet.

My most recent excursion in a single note taking solution was EverNote. Certainly versatile, perhaps too so, and it never felt like the right fit. It was just too something. I wanted a no frills solution that I could easily access my notes from my desktop, laptop and on the go (currently using an iPhone). Certainly EverNote fits that bill, but again, too cumbersome and too busy.

A little while ago, I stumbled on a Habari plugin, SimplyNoted, which interfaced with an iPhone app SimpleNote. Quite an elegant little app/plugin, I could take notes on my phone and be able to pull them up in a Habari Silo, and turn them into a blog post, etc. Nice, but my iPhone isn’t the only place I take notes or want to do a brain dump. So it’s lingered on the second page of my phone, starring at me, taunting me to use it. Then the other day, the always with a great idea Merlin Mann, resurrecting his invaluable 43folders website, posted a screenshot and short post about his workflow.

Wait, did I just read about something syncing with SimpleNote? Sure enough, Merlin was espousing the virtues of an app he’d been using, and how it now syncs with SimpleNote. Notational Velocity is a no frills, desktop application (is there a mobile, I didn’t look) that snycs with SimpleNote, quietly saving behind the scenes,with plenty of keyboard shortcuts but no fluff. It gets out of the way and makes it easy to just jot notes, brain dump, or I’m sure in the hands of someone like Merlin, far, far more. But for this simple guy, it was the missing link to being able to have an app on my Macs that did all the things that SimpleNote could do.

So far in two days of using it, it’s been more usable than any other system I’ve tried. I was able to bang out some thoughts before bed on my laptop, both gather links for this post as well as some outlined thoughts (yeah, this was actually thought out), as well as some ideas for some work I had to do today. I was able to grab those notes when I hit the desktop this morning without doing anything, add to them, and then pick them back up on the laptop later in the day to finish up the writing I needed to do for my new job. After dinner, I was able to then login to the admin of the blog, start a new post, open the SimplyNoted silo, and bang, all of my links and notes were there to write a post. I can’t count how many events I’ve been to the past year that I took notes at either in EverNote or with TiddlyWiki, but never got around to copying them over to writing a post. I look forward to this being the missing link between thinking about blogging, and blogging. Time will tell.