Note to Self, Week 1

Welcome to Note to Self—my open-ended, in-public experiment in writing shorter, less polished, less developed ideas that mimic my personal notes on a particular subject. I’ve had a backlog of ideas growing in my personal notes over the past few years, and I’m trying this experiment to force myself to share in the hope that it helps me figure out where to focus my time.

(The next post will probably be is about my process in personal knowledge management, or PKM, which largely lead to this experiment.)

The what

In order to force a new habit, I’m going to post weekly entries that summarize some of the many “notes to myself” that I’ve accumulated over the years, somewhat edited for public consumption. I’ll probably focus on observations and reflections about work/life, careers, design, tech and other professional subjects. There may be some more personal topics mixed in. Similar to my actual notes, I’ll likely add to individual posts over time and try to make connections between them.

The why

I’m a pretty obsessive note-taker, but I’ve been bad at sharing the ideas contained in those notes. Sitting privately, they are useful to me, but I suspect not as useful as when I share them publicly. I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the past at what happens when you share ideas publicly.

  • I view writing as a way of better developing ideas, and sharing those ideas online as a way of increasing the possibility of interesting connections.
  • I attribute part of my early-career success to writing and freely sharing ideas online, and I’ve been in somewhat of a routine these last few years in tech, looking to replicate some of the random connections that lead to interesting paths forward. I’m hoping that sharing more may reveal new paths forward.
  • The challenge for me is time and quality: I’ve been hoarding ideas without the time to develop them in to professional-quality pieces of writing that I’ve been willing to share. So, I needed a format that felt different. Framing these as “notes to self” sort of allows me to be more experimental.
  • This is also an excuse for me to have more content so I can spend a little more time playing with design and code on my personal site. I don’t really code at work anymore, and the type of design I do is more focused on products that need to be more constrained—I miss playing around with personal site design.

The rules

The rules will probably change over time. For now:

  • Actually experiment in public: it’s more important to publish weekly than it is to get it perfect.
  • These are intended to be somewhat “evergreen” topics—they’ll likely evolve over time.
  • Ask for feedback offline: structure writing in a way that seems “in progress” and not too sacred, so giving feedback seems natural. It should feel like in-progress design work that is open to critique and hopefully opens up conversation.
  • Make it personal: I’m not aiming for authoritative research pieces, rather my personal takes and opinions. That said, they should have a professional tone.

Where you come in

I want to know what you think! Please comment on individual posts, or drop me a line at alex@turnwall.com. I won’t know if the experiment is working unless I get some feedback.

Comments, arguments, criticism, editing errors, stylistic choices, or simple words of acknowledgement and encouragement—I want to hear all of it. Feedback will help me figure out what topics are most interesting to folks.

Thanks for reading—I hope something I write ends up being useful to you in some way.

-Alex-


Updates

How is my experiment going? I’ll make regular updates here so you can follow along in one place.

Jan 22

I didn’t actually publish this until today, but I’m back-dating the publish date to be the first week of the year since I want this to align nicely with the calendar year for the purposes of the experiment. I didn’t actually have the idea for this format until the second week of the year, but it seems early enough that I can publish three posts at once and get away with it. (Experimenting in public, remember?)

Jan 23

I’ve already been updating my personal notes and this post, and doing a lot of thinking about the format. That, in itself, is a small success—after the first steps to get this out in the world I’ve been devoting more time to this and have lots of new ideas.


Thanks for reading 🙂
Let me know how I’m doing, and feel free to give me suggestions or criticism in the comments below.