How I'm organizing my plain text notes (and what do Lego bricks have to do with it)

Bruno Rigolino on

I don’t organize all my plain text notes.

I’ve tried methods to keep everything meticulously indexed and categorized. But I realized that my plain text notes are like Lego bricks.

I’ve been playing with Lego bricks since I was four. Whenever I tried to categorize and store my Lego bricks by colors or sizes (or any other top-down approach), I couldn't sustain the system for long. It was boring to do it when I was playing or got new bricks.

It doesn't mean my Lego bricks were a total mess.

I had a natural way to sort them. Here is how I’m applying my Lego organization approach to my plain text notes:

#1 All pieces in one box

That's the most important rule. When I was a kid, discover that I left one piece in another box at home while creating a Lego model at my grandparents’ house used to be very frustrating.

That's why all my notes are in one iCloud Drive folder. I can search and add new notes from any device.

#2 Frequently used bricks stay on top

You discover a natural way to organize bricks when you play with them. If you don’t use your bricks notes, you won’t find a natural way to organize.

I have pinned sub folders and files, and I also add a 0- at the beginning of the file name of notes I frequently use so they stay on top when I order from A-Z. Another trick I like is using macOS Smart Folders, searching for keywords or dates, to have note groups without duplicating files.

#3 Searching is part of the fun

One of my best memories of playing with Lego is searching the bricks. There’s a creative aspect of thinking about a specific piece and stumbling in a different one that I didn’t remember but would fit even better.

Searching my notes is a way to have new ideas.

Curating information has at least two main actions: selecting things and creating bridges among them. A little mess helps me make unexpected connections. For example, when I want to recover something from my notes, I use the search bar, but I need to read some of them because I didn’t organize every single one.

That’s probably less efficient than a Notion database, but here I’m not focusing on productivity; I'm focusing on creating, learning, and getting inspiration from my notes.