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Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Feb 5, 2024 at 12:52 PM


I just read a Medium article by someone who uses one big text file for most of his note taking and early writing drafts. Basically, he says it works for him because it is frictionless. I admit this sounds alluring, but I know it would never work for me. I am wondering if anyone on this forum uses such a system. If so, what is your experience?

Here’s the article:




Posted by satis
Feb 5, 2024 at 09:26 PM


> “Sounds chaotic, right? Maybe it is, a little.
> But not as much as you might think.”

That phrasing does a lot of heavy lifting, and makes big assumptions about the reader.

There are plenty of services that effectively offer this in outline form, like Dynalist, Checkvist and Workflowy. (And there are plenty of outliner apps that can be pressed into service for this as well.) So it’s not a particularly unconventional choice, but I don’t think it’s ideal.

I’d think that it’s better to separate out disparate kinds of information into their own separate text/outline files, for clarity, and more focused attention and searching. I like the Zapier blog’s old post listing top plaintext files to use if you’re going to use plaintext files - along with the idea of using folders to organize tasks:


And this is a decent overview of using one versus multiple text files:


For several years I’ve had a monthly file of random ideas and links I kept that are unrelated to actionable tasks I use with Todoist. At the end of every year I concatenate them into a single file I migrate into Apple Notes. Some items are repurposed elsewhere, but I hold onto them for posterity, and it’s interesting how seeing the notes together jogs my memory about past events. I just randomly opened one and saw an overheard discussion I jotted down and promptly forgot:

September 2017.txt

- I didn’t know you liked Shakespeare.

- You bet your Coriolanus.

If you’re going to use a single file, working with an outliner of some kind makes the most sense since you can delineate projects or ideas into foldable sections that can be Focused on when being worked in.


Posted by Stephen Zeoli
Feb 6, 2024 at 01:08 PM


@Satis—I agree. I suggested Workflowy in the comments section of that article. Having a single file that you simply append your information/content to is probably the most friction-free way to save notes and ideas. However, I think that all it does is push the friction to the other end; that is, when you want to find and use the information.

Still, if it works for the person who wrote that article, good for him.



Posted by Nomatica
Feb 6, 2024 at 08:16 PM


I remember alot of people doing todo.text in many forms


Posted by Dormouse
Feb 6, 2024 at 08:37 PM


He also uses “a notebook with an index”.

And a single text file isn’t that different to the daily notes of Roam et al, which can be regarded as a single file with automatic splitting and timestamps.
I have a few journals which are just a single file with occasional time/date stamp headings, and #tags when they seem appropriate. I’d find it less convenient findwise to only have one file, but could easily work with it if I needed to.


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