As I write this, British Columbia and many parts of the world are entering another lockdown to curb the second wave of COVID 19. We’ve found ourselves with an abnormal amount of free time, but how many of us have actually used that time to make the changes we said we were going to at the start of January 2020? I have spent the last couple of years trying to find the app I want to use to manage my thoughts and reflection. I (un)fortunately came to the conclusion to build my own and am happy to introduce Engram – an open source knowledge management tool.
Most years I make it to about February before I lose track of my New Years’ Resolution. This year I set the goal to check in with myself on a weekly basis. Somewhat unintentionally, I found myself setting a new resolution each week. One week I realized how tired I was, so I shifted my bedtime earlier. Another week I challenged myself to finish a whole book (something that would previously take me months to accomplish).
Despite losing at least two weeks recovering from COVID and everything going on around the world, I am on track for one of my favorite years. Checking in with myself has helped me find the things I really want to be doing. Every time I accomplish one of those weekly goals I get a boost of confidence. Even when I don’t meet my goals I usually make it much farther than I would have without them.
When I was still in school, I was an avid note taker. On the personal side of things, I kept a shared journal with people that I dated. I didn’t comprehend why writing things down would be useful for just myself, so having someone to share it with was good motivation. In the classroom, I started a new page of notes for each class every day. Like most other students, I was excited to make it to the end of the year and take my notebook to throw out all my hard work.
Each year the same thing repeated. I did well enough that I assumed my strategies were working. It wasn’t until university that I realized the importance of re-reviewing notes after writing them. Many times I wrote out some math or code, understanding none of it. After I slept that night and took another look, I was usually able to make better sense of it.
2018 started with a very similar resolution: “figure out what I want to do with my life”. I had just left a job after completely burning myself out. A knee injury from two years earlier had developed in to severe chronic pain – making it difficult to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. Something wasn’t right and I needed to find an answer.
I took the next three months off. This is when I started journaling more consistently. Each day was a new opportunity to try something different and see how it made me feel. When I reached the end of the day I would reflect on what I did and how it made me feel. By the end of the second month, I felt my soul returning to my body. I rediscovered my passion for all forms of software development and this is a realization I plan to stick to.
I’ve written about the digital mess I got myself into trying to move my knowledge management process to the cloud. I’ve tried what feels like every app with the word “Note” in it. Each one has some quirk that gets in the way of my creativity.
I sat down – actually went for a walk - to ponder what the absolute minimum viable product would be. I landed on an app that allows you to quickly enter thoughts without any friction along the way. With just the click of the icon, you are immediately ready to enter a new note.
Like Twitter, but for your private thoughts
This doesn’t sound like much, but I’m already ~100 commits in on Github and have been actively developing it since mid October. This is the start of something much bigger.
Interested? Here’s what you can do to get involved:
- Follow @devtails for development tales along the way
- Follow @engram_app on Twitter for updates about the app
- Follow @engram_app on TikTok for the occasional video
- Signup and provide feedback to help design the note taking app you want to use
- Contribute to the development on Github
Finally, I will be using the app to build out a curriculum for learning software development. If you are learning to code or already know how but want to learn more, this will be a great opportunity to learn everything from the basics of starting a simple web application to more advanced topics like automating deployments via Github actions.