This year, I’ve decided to keep track of my thoughts, learnings and progress a bit more – I’ve decided to take note taking a bit more seriously. I feel that we lose a lot of knowledge over time, maybe not the big picture, but we definitely forget the important finer details.

I’ve kept a lot of snippets of code and notes here and there using gist, most as private notes.

I also have quite bit in trello, some on github or bitbucket as markdown files, google docs for larger documentations etc. I also keep track of my learnings in Machine Learning in a Jupyter Notebook.

I try to document processes of things that I may have to do again in the future, things as simple as deploying a WordPress site (oh, the pain!), changing values in the settings, in the DB etc.

I keep many cheatsheets for programming languages and libraries/frameworks that I touch every now and then but not frequently enough to quite remember, languages such as Go, Laravel etc.

What I’ve found super useful over the years are command cheatsheets, especially commands that I tend to use every now and then, but not frequent enough to remember. For example, frequent docker commands, git etc.

In summary, the things that I’ve found most useful taking notes of:

  1. Cheatsheets
  2. Processes and How to’s
  3. Learning Progress
  4. Snippets from books, blogs and other materials for future reference

I needed to find the a better note taking app for myself, so I did some quick googling for some of the best note taking apps out there. I had a few requirements that I absolutely needed.

1. Code formatting and highlighting support

Well, I’m a Developer, so naturally, I keep snippets of code here and there.

2. Must support markdown

If I had to even spend 15 seconds more on formatting, clicking buttons here and there, it would completely put me off from keeping notes all together.

3. Auto sync to all devices

I use many devices, laptop, desktop, mobile and tablet. I want to be able to note things down as thoughts come.

4. Good search function

Notes are useless unless I can find them.

5. Supports image drag and drop

As much as I like doing everything with a keyboard, manually copying an image, making sure it’s in the right place, then linking it to the markdown document with path relative to the document itself is a pain in the a#!.

6. Supports some form of rendering of mathematical notation

I sometimes delve into mathematics (computer science mostly), so this is just very useful for my case.

So, what did I find?

Well, I did first consider wiki like note-taking app like tiddlywiki – by default, it supports wiki markup language. As I see it, wiki’s are perfect for note taking as it takes a non-linear approach to it (relationships between notes via links), comes with search function, tagging etc. However, I did find that having to hunt down for plugins for extra features that I need a bit of a pain.

In the end, I settled with boosnote – this is by far the best note-taking app I’ve used.

So now, I’ve cleared up all my notes everywhere and keep things only in, hypothesis, Jupyter and boosnote.

Don’t assume you know. Listen, think and think again

Don’t assume you know. Listen, think and think again – or even better, just keep notes of what you know, and let the notes evolve as your understanding evolves – then just reference that. This saves you from thinking. Time spent thinking is valuable – it’s better spent on more important things rather than recalling things that we’ve already done or already thought deeply about before.