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Discussion on: How to take smart notes (as a developer)

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Jean-Christophe Helary

I just read about this post in your recent "books I read" post.

I've had to come up with a way to take smart(er) notes for 2 projects I have this year. One is a book a publisher has asked me to write and one is a 30+pages report to prepare an MA thesis.

My biggest issue in the past few years is organizing tasks. I've tried a number of things but basically using macos’ calendar was the maximum I could ever do. I tried a number of times to use org-mode because I do a lot of writing in emacs but it never stuck.

I thought I'd try out-of-the-box macos tools first. So I (re)tried Reminders, and Notes. But the lack of connexion and basic interaction with the system (except when using Applescript, which I do, but for other things) and the lack of flexibility in structure led me to go back to org-mode.

Then I found that org-mode has a "slip-box" implementation in the form of org-roam. Basically org-roam is a local wiki, and the point is to create short interlinked notes a la slip-box.

I tried to use org-roam and basically that was the puzzle piece that was missing to my setup. Now I'm back to fully using org-mode, especially the agenda feature, and org-roam for notes and "local" TODO items. I find that much easier to think in "pieces" and to link the pieces together in a very flexible way.