Thinking in lists
For years, I've experimented with different techniques and tools to help me improve my thinking process. Daily journaling is one of those tools, I initially wrote on a paper notebook but I didn't have the discipline to keep one notebook only for that purpose (always ended up using it for planning work-related stuff).
By creating the habit of daily journaling, I can clear my mind (the best time to do it for me is early in the morning). Sometimes the journaling sessions are short, and other times I spend hours on it.
What I found effective is to move from prose-based journaling to a list-based one.
It looks like this (vague example)
- Goal for this week - Learn about topic x - What resources should I use? - Buy a book? - I may have already something on my kindle - Who's an authority on the topic? - Find book recommendations on Reddit - Better to find a video course? - Haven't had much success with those in the past. - Why? - Too much noise - Feels slow - Too much variability (depends on narrator skills) - Watch youtube videos? - I've found that for totally new topics, watching a couple of videos gives me some context so I'll start with that. - Write that article I've been delaying for so long - What's creating resistance and procastination? - Outline - Start with X - Continue with Y - End with Z
So the basic idea is that you have a conversation and allow your brain to go to new paths (represented as nested items). This has a few benefits
- You can quickly focus on a new idea.
- No need to keep a consistent narrative
- Going back to a previous idea is easy
- No need to have sophisticated tools
- Easy to zoom out and see the big picture.
I use Obsidian to keep track of my daily journaling (using the Daily notes plugin). You can use whatever you like and experiment. Some people like to have sophisticated workflows for note-taking. It's easy to get distracted by which technique or tool works and end up in a rabbit hole (I'm sometimes guilty of this).
Anyway, it pays to spend some time clearing your mind and daily writing is a good way to do it.