One simple system and I never forget a thing

As a system designer, I am obsessed with problem solving. When it comes to my day to day productivity, I wanted to capture everything in a day as it happens in one place. What a control freak?

I made extensive Notion systems, productivity books, Apple notes, bullet journals, gratitude journals, morning pages and more. The truth is I have not been consistent with any of them. It will be a lie to say I cracked everything every single day. I tried all things in the past three years.

The designer in me screams, "user is never wrong, it is your system design that is stupid". I resonate with that statement. It helped me not to beat myself up and feel like a useless human being who cannot keep up with any system or a routine.

This made me think deeply and in reality I could not keep with any of them because they are so scattered and all over the place.

So I decided to bring them all to one place. I tried using only Notion for everything. The tool sometimes will not open when i have a flow of ideas. It forces me to kill it, restart it, login again and what not. By now the ideas in my head vanish.

I have lost a ton of thoughts to the tools. Don't get me wrong, I love all tools. I am very grateful they exist. All said and done our brain doesn't understand technical glitches and it has no pause button.

Not just that. Sometimes many things happen in an instance. It is not just action, it includes a transaction, an action item, an idea, a reference, remember to check things etc. It is never ONE to-do line only. That is a simplistic way to think about a human brain. We can't fit our multitude of needs within one line. I literally broke my head with 100s of designs to make me more efficienct.

Two weeks ago I had a situation to take care of mom and I decided to stay in her place as long as needed. For the first time I did not have access to my army of tools and systems 🙈 I had to live with just pieces of paper. This experience was mind blowing.

An epiphany hit me.

Why not a plain notebook act as a timeline capture as it flows. I have done this before. The biggest change I made this time is all things that day in one place including thinking, note-taking, discussions and more. No switching pages or tools.

I have been doing that for a little over week now and my brain is thanking me immensely. We overthink problem solving. If we align our solutions to the human desirability then it gets so simple.

The simple principles are

  1. Collection should not have any friction.
  2. Processing should have all information in one place.
  3. Categorization of the processing helps in connecting dots.
  4. Reflection should all dots and the connections to elicit the learnings.

All the above is possible in a simple notebook with a very simple system (one pager may be).

It is just a blank Amazon basics notebook that solved a problem of 20 years of productivity. The constraint of not having access to anything solved the problem better. Now, I feel like an idiot. That is how good design feels. It is simple, uncomplicated, thoughtful and it just works.

But hey i am not forgetting a thing in a day. Can't get better isn't it?

🥂 to simplicity!

Subscribe to Karthi's Blog

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.