Organizing My Notes in Bear
It’s hard to organize notes. If you’re anything like me, you want to capture everything, shove it somewhere you can easily find it, and then maybe reference it later. But just in case, right?
Evernote use to be my go-to note-taker. I had a 3 or 4 notebook system set up with nested tags. It worked for a season, until I really started pushing it. At that point, something felt clunky.
I love how Bear gives you basically a database of notes you can slap tags on. These tags can nest, be added in easy and seamless ways to notes, and ultimately act like folders to find all the fanciful information I’m storing away for potential future use.
Here’s a high level look at how I organize my system.
When first moving to Bear, I did a direct import from Evernote. It’s pretty easy to do, and that brought along a lot of tags with it. The tags looked… usable in Evernote, but once I brought them into Bear, I knew it was too much. I whittled it down to a few main categories, and started from there.
I’ve been using Bear for a little over six months, and I’ve done something different with it than previous note-taking applications. Christian Tietze put it this way:
So if you model your knowledge management system to fit the way your brain works, you better not start with inventing a hierarchy of categories, top-down. Instead, you’re better of starting to collect notes and see what happens. Let things grow in your Zettelkasten as you let your brain do its work or organic growth.
Previously I would try to organize for every case up front. With Bear’s easy-to-use tags, I started organizing for every new note that cropped up. In doing so, I have an organization system that makes sense to me. When I need new organization, I can create new tags and add whatever notes I need to them, all without breaking my current organizational structure.
This is why I really enjoy using Bear. It has the structure I need while being flexible to my needs.
For those of you interested, here’s a running list of my major tags:
- !Important - notes I need fast access to
- business - notes related to the side business/projects I have
- commonplace - where I store my digital commonplace snips for articles, quotes, and books
- home - notes related to home, like car VIN numbers, measurements, etc.
- ideas - my idea lounge
- music - production notes and song ideas
- notes - all sorts of non-work notes I take
- personal - personality test results, encouragement people have given me, other things I track for myself
- podcasts - notes from any podcasts I’ve guested on (just one for now!)
- principles - inspired by Ray Dalio, this is a collection of notes around life principles I’ve found or am developing
- reference - manuals, kiddo Tylenol dosage charts, etc
- system - info on my devices, GTD stuff
- thoughts - a place I can store blips of thought that aren’t full-blown posts or notes
- topics - a nested list of topics for quick reference, usually tagged on notes in my commonplace section
- worship - I lead worship sometimes at my church, so these are set lists and other misc info I need for that
Even in six month my usage of Bear has evolved a lot. I use nested tags like crazy, and I love how easy it is to tag notes anywhere in the body with a simple hash sign. My only wish is I could use it for work notes and have one system. But I can’t. I use OneNote for that. 😆
I’ll be okay.