Where Did I Dump My Brain?

Home

This post was originally published on my Postach.io blog on December 9th, 2014

I have many places where I store information, and my biggest problem is remembering in which “container” I dropped a thought/snippet:

An app called CloudMagic used to let me do a global search of nearly all of the above apps, but it unfortunately pivoted and and no longer offers that service, so now I have to figure out where I dumped my brain. I sort of have a system, but it’s not reliable enough for me to always know where my data is.

Dropbox

This is where I store all my mp3s (which I sync with iTunes); any text or XML files that sync with an iOS writing or list-making app; image assets for Sasstrology that I share with team members.

I used to use Dropbox-compatible iOS apps (or nvAlt) to store thoughts, but because I kept changing apps, I decided to dump pretty much any thoughts into…

Evernote

This is where I store bills (which I sync with FileThis); just about any PDF; scanned documents; notes about conversations or phone calls; webclips using the Evernote web clipper; and stuff that I save via IFTTT, like images from my daughter’s art Instagram account.

Right now, Evernote is my main brain dump. I’m even blogging from it. And I’ve pretty much abandoned Paperless as my list-making app, and just add my groceries to a note as a checkbox list. Evernote is everywhere I go (iPhone; iPad; desktop; web).

Pinboard

This is where things get tricky. I use Pinboard for bookmarks, but I’m not certain about my decision-making process regarding when I bookmark a web page versus clip it for Evernote. Receipts, I clip; articles that I don’t necessarily want to “read later” (Instapaper), I bookmark (like CSS tutorials). But if I find a technical solution to a problem, I might just clip that snippet for Evernote instead of bookmark it.

I used to use IFTTT to store all my Pinboard bookmarks in Evernote, but I felt overwhelmed by the noise every time I opened Evernote and saw lots of new notes that were not immediately relevant, so I discontinued that IFTTT recipe.

Sometimes I bookmark an article I liked that I will likely never read again, but I tag it just in case I want to share it with someone in the future.

One unnecessary redundancy is that I’m paying for a premium Pinboard account to archive all my bookmarks. I could just as easily clip these articles to Evernote, but once again, I don’t want the noise. I guess I want notes in Evernote to be relevant to my life – either information I know I will need shortly, or PDFs that I know I will want accessible in case the need arises. Nothing I save in Pinboard is absolutely essential – more like “nice to have so that I don’t have to search for that information in Google again.”

One minor downside of Pinboard is that it’s just run by one guy. Once in a while I export all my bookmarks as an XML file and upload it to a backups folder in Dropbox, so that if Pinboard sunsets, I’ll still have all my data.

Email

I take for granted the archive function in email, now that storage is virtually limitless. Sometimes when I need to find an old correspondence, I’ll just do a search in Gmail or Fastmail. But if I get an email receipt, I’ll often forward it to Evernote.

See the problem? If I had just one place to store everything, I wouldn’t have to remember where I put something. As it is, I have to figure out how my mind works so that I can search the correct place, and if it’s not there, I need to go to the second-most-likely service, and so on.