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Back in Issue 053 I reflected on the state of taking notes, and today we’re going to do the same thing.

It’s Less about the Software

While I still get some emails about reviewing software, I may get one every few weeks. Back in January of this year for Issue 053 I was getting two or three emails a week touting some brand new software that would revolutionize the note-taking space. They all wanted me to cover them, but none of them wanted to sponsor a video or a newsletter. Plus, I’ve always thought it’s less about the software tool and more about what you do.

A good system for taking notes, or dealing with your tasks, should be tool agnostic. – ME, yes I’m that vain

But the big thing I get emails about weekly is the new AI feature that will make it so you don’t have to go through your notes. This new feature will find everything you need all the time and make you smarter. I bet it will even improve your haircut and reduce your waistline…if you’ll just pay the monthly subscription to the notes tool that just added AI.

As I said to members yesterday, I’m not that hot on AI. I’m sure there are good uses for it, but 99% of what I read from software vendors is all about keeping up with the current tech hype-cycle that is pushing AI as the newest bestest thing. It’s similar to how every tool/system had some blockchain angle a few years ago. Then it became common knowledge that almost everything about crypto-currency is a ponzi scheme[1].

Your Biggest Problem is that you Don’t do Hard Things

Outside of Silicon Valley VC’s needing to recoup their investments so they hype AI, I think one big thing pushing AI is that most note-takers are lazy.

I talked to a friend a few years back who talked about wanting to be an author. After a few months of hearing about this new dream, I got fed up and asked them how much writing they’d done recently. Predictably they had done no writing at all.

They purchased notebooks and pens that other authors said they used. They got software to write in and create timelines of the fantastic universes in their head. They found the best tool to take their written word and turn it into a book on Amazon.

But they had done no writing. There was no content on their timeline for the universe.

Most people who talk about being an author want to have the hard work of coming up with a story out of their brain done. They want to have written and be successful at it out of the gate. They do not want to write 40,000 words that suck. Then try again and it still sucks. Then try 10 more times, with 6 failed starts in the middle, and finally produce something that someone else would read.

I think that the appeal of AI hits the same chord for many people looking at their notes. They want to have neatly compiled notes with clearly thought-out ideas that resonate with others. They want to be done with the hard work of writing their ideas down poorly 20,000 times until they come up with a single good idea that they can run with.

People figure AI will do this for them, but if your notes are crap to begin with, the output of any AI will also be crap.

Where Are we Going?

I think that AI will continue to be a feature that people look for because they’re looking for an easy way out. I’ll keep tabs on what’s happening, but I’m not expecting to put any type of AI into regular rotation in my process.

We’ll still see some tools show up and try to get everyone interested, you should probably avoid most of them and stick with what you’re using now. If you’re struggling with your notes, it’s not the software so don’t take the easy way out.

Schedule time to think and work your notes. Do the hard work, or don’t. But if you’re not going to do the hard work don’t also lament the fact that you’re not making progress in your notes. There are times when you don’t have time to dig into notes, like when you have a sick relative to take care of or a bunch of young kids to watch. Just live in those times and work your job. Don’t stress about your notes. Do what you can and let yourself off the hook. No one is as productive as they make it seem on YouTube so you should never compare yourself with them.

Where do you think knowledge management is going in 2024? What are your goals in your practice for next year?

  • [1] I’d recommend Number Go Up if you want to read more:

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