11/05/2020

# With the slight easing of lockdown restrictions and talk of a gradual returning to work my employer has announced that the earliest anyone currently working from home will go back in 15th June, and those will be only the most essential.

In a busy office based environment and where many rely on public transport, especially the London Underground, it's going to take a long time to get everyone back, if ever - there is talk that 100% building occupancy will be a thing of the past.

At any rate, things are to start with only a small percentage of staff, likely in the region of 10%, so I might not be returning to the office for some considerable time.

Notes... and writing

I dont take enough notes, I never have. I don't amass libraries of research or generally read with a pen, sketch, doodle or annotate. My everyday notebooks become places for finished articles rather than the raw materials that build them.

I am still a quick, impatient writer too eager to get things down, to call them finished. But things are never finished, there is always more, always a new point of view, always a refining of opinion based upon new life experience.

In a sense you could call the blog my notebook, full of ideas, snippets and incomplete utterances, longing for me to gather them up an do something with them. The blog has search and clickable hashtags but how often do I actually go back and draw threads together? Yes, I frequently refer to old posts but only really in passing rather than fully building on their foundations to construct something new.

Drew Coffman writes that your notes "can be a helpful archive for thoughts, or a graveyard" and I can't help but feel that even the blog is the latter, especially when considering that much of it feels irrelevant.

It always comes back to the "small ideas not big ideas" theme, that I'm not doing enough with what I've got, making do instead of making strides.

Maybe it's because there's no differentiation between my notes and my "finished" items, they get written in the same place whether that's an app or an actual paper notebook; I don't reserve a specific tool or location for a specific task - it's all mixed up so one naturally flows into the other, physically or digitally.

I think there needs to be some separation.

I'm writing this in yet another app that I'm trying out on my phone: Cola Notes. It looks like, and behaves in a similar manner to, Bear on the iPhone where, by default, the Markdown mark-up is hidden and you only see the resultant formatting. I quite like it, the paid version (which I haven't yet opted for) lets you operate in a proper Markdown mode.

The app is yet another take on the Android writing experience, one I am always trying to perfect, and maybe that's the issue: always working on the end product and not the preparation. I don't have a workflow for notes just as I don't have somewhere specific to put them. It's as though I'm compensating by focusing on the tools, the wrong tools at that, like something is finally going to click and solve all of my problems.

But it's more a mental thing than a functional thing. Much can be achieved with even the simplest of toolsets but only if you are committed to using them, establishing that behaviour is the hard part.

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Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog