Adam Savage, the famed MythBuster, has now been on YouTube for several years making things and sharing things others make. He has a whole collection of Hellboy builds where he makes the Samaritan, the sword from a Hellboy comic book cover, and more. It’s not just comic books though, he also shares how to build simple things like a box. I find it very enjoyable to watch. In fact, I have it on constantly.
I am not someone that makes things like Adam, but I do run his videos in the background as I write, edit podcasts (the volume from the video is off), or just when I am in need of a break. What Adam taught me though, wasn’t how to build something, it was that you can have variants of the same tool for different purposes.
I was watching a video where he made a “tiny thwacker” while literally using a similar tool to make this hammer. I don’t use hammers though; my “hammers” are note-taking and writing tools.
Throughout the time I have been writing for Tablet Habit, I have been searching for the “perfect notes app." I wanted an all-in-one solution that captures, organizes, and edits perfectly to what my brain wants. I have been using everything you can possibly imagine. I have tried Apple Notes, Craft, Notion, Obsidian, and even Evernote to name a few.
All of these apps and services have their benefits and flaws, and I am yet to find the notes app that works “perfectly” for me. Now, I have come to the realization that this search is not only never-ending but it is also inherently flawed. There is no "perfect notes app", much like there is no perfect anything in this world. You need multiple tools to get the job done, and you might also need multiple apps to store and save your thoughts, ideas, and journal entries.
In the latest episode of A Slab of Glass I interviewed James Eaton, someone I have spoken to online quite a bit over the years. He had some fantastic insight, which I will share on the next Premium issue of Tablet Habit. However, I will share one of the things I learned. It’s that you shouldn't make a tool something it's not. James said it best when he talked about how he started using the note-taking app Craft.
I basically let go of any other structure that I had. Because I am always bringing a structure from an old thing in. ‘I used to it this this way. Well how do I Evernote in Craft? How do I do Notion in Craft?’ I kind of just said ‘How do I do use Craft? What would it look like if I didn’t have all of this?
If you pay attention to the workshop he is working in you will see dozens of saws, pliers, and drill bits. They are all slightly different, but they all have a purpose.
If we think of this for software, you can use Apple Notes for a particular set of work, Notion for another, and Obsidian for something else. However, this isn’t permission to just throw your notes anywhere you feel like, it still needs a system in place otherwise it won’t work.
This tool metaphor goes both ways, because I have seen workshops that have no semblance of order or organization. This doesn’t mean that your workshop (notes app) is helpless, but it definitely needs some TLC. Assess what you have to work with and go from there.
Taking this insight from James Eaton and Adam Savage has helped me put my search for a "perfect notes app" to rest. I don’t know why it took me nearly 30 years on this planet to come to this conclusion, but I'm glad I reached this point at all.
As for what system I am using now, that is still a work-in-progress.