Note Minimalism

Minimalism of notes.

I do not have enough time to act on all of my ideas – too many ideas, too little time. So instead of acting on them, I wrote them down.

I wasted all kinds of time writing down ideas that would never come to fruition. My list of ideas grew out of control. It took a few hours just to read it through.

Due to my overabundance of ideas, I was overwhelmed, and nearly paralyzed in my ability to act on them. I didn’t know where to start let alone finish.

In order to save time and hack my mind into completing more projects, I came up with the idea of note minimalism. And I did not add it to my list of ideas.

The idea of note minimalism is to eliminate the documentation of ideas that will never turn into actions.

The Rules of Note Minimalism

Rule for tracking ideas:

  • Do not write ideas down

Rule for acting on ideas:

  • Work on one project per medium at a time. This means that I can work on a few projects simultaneously as long as they’re different types. For example, I can work on one website, one song, one blog post, and one novel, all at the same time. However, I cannot work on two or more websites, two or more blog posts, or two or more novels at the same time.

The golden rule:

  • Do not start a new project of the same medium until:
  • Completing the current project, or
  • Trashing the current project

A Mind Hack for Motivation

In his idea/task organization book, Getting Things Done, David Allen argues that writing things down is important. He says it frees the mind to focus on the task at hand.

I tried Allen’s system. It may work for some, but it did not work for me. I found that writing the idea down ruins my drive to act on it. The project loses its urgency. I figure, now that its written down, I can finish it some other time. That time never comes.

Each new idea comes with a little bundle of excitement. By refusing to write the idea down, and refusing to work on two projects at once, the mind is forced to channel its excitement into the current project. It thinks, “I must finish this project so I can work on the new, exciting one.”

The Test of Time

It is my hope that note minimalism will lead to increased time for working on projects, and increased drive to complete projects. I have been following the rules of note minimalism for a couple weeks now, and, look, I’m actually posting stories on Medium!

This early in the trial, it is possible that the excitement of the new idea, rather than the implementation of the idea, is the driving force. These things always seem to work great at first. Only in time will we know the truth.