Karan Jayachandra

Way of working - Notes

In childhood, I never thought about the question, “What should I do?”. Everything seemed to flow naturally from one to the other. Before I knew it, the day was gone and more importantly I was content. I was never consciously thinking about the things I was doing. This could be because as a child, your schedule more or less revolves around school and play. Nothing else matters. Another reason could be because your whole life is ahead of you and anything that needs to be done can and will eventually be got to. However, since the third year of my bachelor’s study circa 2014, I noticed that I was not happy about the things I was doing and always ended up wondering whether I was spending time wisely.

It was at this time that I came across Todoist, I immediately became hooked for some reason. The dopamine rush I would get ticking off a task from a long list was addictive. I had a mountain of tasks and every part of my calendar blocked off for some activity or the other. As you can imagine, this didn’t last long before I was overwhelmed with the energy needed to maintain this system along with the feeling that I was getting nowhere. It was at this time that I was afflicted by a mental illness as I would come to later call it called productivity. I was always looks for the best system, the one and only magic formula that would help me be the best me. This is how they would get you. You can be anything you want, but are you sure you just want to laze around? The decision was binary, there were no grey areas. This continued for quite some years I am afraid to as recent as the 2018 when I was working for my first company. I am not sure how, but at some point when I was reading the umpteenth productivity book I thought, none of that mattered. Something that worked for someone else doesn’t work for you. Not to take away anything from those books. I am sure they have helped quite a few people. However, I came to realize soon that they books were to help tune your system or provide inspiration to you to alter your system. You need to have a system to begin with and tailor it when things don’t work out. Being constantly in search for a system would engulf you in the search and not in the doing itself.

I then decided to follow the KISS principle. I would come up with as simple of a system as possible and then when some part of it fails or is unsatisfactory, I would tweak it to suit my needs. With that in mind I started initially with just writing everything down into a book, but that didn’t help when I had to search for something that I had writing in the past. I also ran into problems in keeping these books out of prying eyes or storing them for posterity. The next thing I did was to try to fully make notes in digital form via EMACS. However, EMACS was another rabbit hole which I will save for another story. It was a distraction from what I really wanted to do, so I ended up ditching it as well. I found the tactile feeling of writing very engaging when brainstorming while typing was better for well-thought-out material. I therefore developed the system of writing on a digital tablet (iPad in my case) and used the Notes application for the more concrete ideas. The Notes application also served when I didn’t have my tablet with me to store thoughts right on my phone. Anything I need to do, think, plan or consume would end of here in the beginning. I would then move it to an appropriate folder when needed. But this system seems to be doing wonders for now. I don’t want to change it for now and have also added my current motivation to use this method into this blog when I get the urge to change something in my process. This post will remind me of my painful journey and why I am doing what I am doing. I will follow up with more posts about the way I use email, my phone, social media and other topics in additional blog posts to keep this post in a bite sized format.