My Second Brain
It’s been 5 years since I started to track everything in my life.
It all started with a private GitLab repository back in 2017 where I created “issues” to keep track of the things I needed to do: reminders, follow up stuff at work, whatever I was learning at the time, interview notes, private notes, books I’m reading and more.
First issue on GitLab
I then moved everything over to GitHub in 2019 but kept the same process to "run my life" as I’d like to call it.
While on GitHub, I turned it into a SCRUM-based methodology, except that I was running it on my own and so I didn’t need to run stand up meetings with myself on a daily basis.
The process was very simple:
- One GitHub project for each calendar year.
- One GitHub issue for anything I need to do or remember.
- Each issue must:
- be assigned to me.
- have a label to make it easier for me to find, prioritise and groom later.
- be assigned to the current calendar year (the GitHub project created in the first step).
- Every week (my own sprints), I take a quick glance of all issues in the backlog and get stuff done.
- Iterate this process over and over.
Looking for new options
I have to say that this process works great for me and I rarely miss things in my life*. However, I’ve been finding time consuming having to create a GitHub issue for some of the "quick tasks" I needed to do.
Part of being productive is having a simple and quick system to capture information and GitHub was on my way to move faster.
I initially started to hack my own process by using a single issue for the week. And for any ad-hoc task, I’d just create a task list in markdown on the issue and take it from there. Needless to say that I didn’t like this approach.
I also didn’t like GitHub mobile and I found myself creating notes somewhere else first to later create a GitHub issue once I’m at my laptop.*that’s not true according to my wife 😅.
Notion was on my radar for quite some time now. But I guess I never gave the attention it deserves.
Only after reading about Building a Second Brain and watching a few YouTube videos I realised that my process is already my "second brain" and that I could do better with the way I handle my TODOs, how I keep a record of important milestones and how I keep my notes somewhere I have easy access to.
Alongside that, I started to look for alternatives to improve my capture process and a lot of apps came my way: todoist, Things, Microsoft To Do, Asana, Apple Notes, Apple Reminders, TickTick, Google Keep, AnyList, Trello…
The new process
My new process became simpler and more effective:
- if there’s something for me to do in less than 2 min, I do it immediately.
- otherwise, it becomes an entry in Apple reminders. I add a description when necessary, create a tag and add a due date if the task is time sensitive.
- In the morning, I check Apple Reminders to see if there’s anything I have to do (or could do) on that day.
- Throughout the day I also check Apple Reminders. I like to schedule some of my TODOs for the afternoon and opening this app during the day organically became a new habit.
- For long live information, like book tracking, notes, virtual archive, home operating stuff and even my own personal CRM system, I use Notion.
From the time I’m publishing this blog post, it’s been one month since I moved away from GitHub to run my life.
Notion is a great note taking app as well as a powerful tool to organise my second brain. I’m enjoying its database engine and I find it super helpful to create views so I have a quick glance of important information. I wish I could own the data and I can see this as a potential problem in the future.
Apple Reminders checks every box I was looking for in a TODO app:
- I can create TODOs on the go, easily.
- Integration between the mobile app and the macOS app is great!
- I can use tags and subtasks when necessary.
- I can set up reminders for some TODOs.
- Task prioritisation.
- Recurring tasks.
- Smart lists.
I hope that's helpful and interesting to you. 👋🏼
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Hemerson Carlin, also known as mersocarlin, is passionate and resourceful full-stack Software Engineer with 10+ years of experience focused on agile development, architecture and team building.
This is the space to share the things he likes, a couple of ideas and some of his work.