Notes On Notes

Like many people who are interested in the productivity sphere, I am always on the lookout for a better app/website to help me organise my life.

And like many of us discover sooner or later, I often end up spending more time learning how to use a shiny new piece of software vs. actually doing the important tasks I had planned.

I mean, why bother being productive when you can spend hours setting up intricate new planning systems in Evernote, Todoist, or Notion instead? The curse of perfectionism strikes again! I knew I had to go back to basics, so that’s what I did.

Nowadays I mostly rely on a combination of the standard-issue Notes and Calendar apps, with a sprinkling of OmniFocus for productivity-ninja type of stuff. I’ll write more about this setup in the future, but in the meantime, here’s a preview of what my Notes app looks like:

The emojis are there to make the app more pleasant to use. Don’t judge me!

Kuwait Library

Kuwait Library

Location: Kuwait Library, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

Comment: My favourite library in all of Oxford, for its tranquil atmosphere and beautiful interior.

Hello World

Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh,

Welcome to my blog.

Ever since I first dabbled with HTML in 2004, I have tried many times to keep a blog going without much (read:any) success. The main reason for this is my desire to wait until an article is perfect, whatever that means, before publishing it online. To this day, I have various articles half-written and scattered all over the place because I wasn’t confident enough that anyone would want to read them.

In short, I had fallen into the trap of aiming for perfection, not progress.

Striving for perfection is a worthy goal, but not at the expense of making incremental progress as that is how everyone learns any new skill. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear describes how a class of film photography students are divided into two groups:

  1. Quantity: To be given a grade based on how many photos they had submitted by the final day of class.
  2. Quality: Judged purely on the excellence of their work. Although they only had to submit one photo during the semester, it had to be nearly perfect in order for them to get an A.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, all the best photos came from the Quantity group.

Now obviously the real situation is more nuanced than that, but the story above illustrates a very important point: you get better at something not by thinking about it, but by doing it. Or to put it more crudely, loser plan, winners execute.

In the interest of not being a loser, I have decided to finish writing and publish all these semi-completed articles in my collection. The one nod to perfectionism I’ll make is to change their publication dates close to when they first appeared in my mind. This article, for example, was originally crafted in December 2019 with a view to making it a New Year’s Day post, so I’m just going to set its publication date to 1 January 2020. I hope you will excuse this time-bending experiment of mine.