Bringing it all together | My text workflow

possible of course). The merits of plain text files with markdown have been vastly discussed by far smarter people than me, so I won’t go into that here. I will however explain why it’s the best choice for me and hopefully some parts might resonate with you.

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The Introduction.

Like many before me, I too have jumped on the text only bandwagon (where possible of course). The merits1 of plain text files with markdown have been vastly discussed by far smarter people than me, so I won’t go into that ere. I will however explain why it’s the best choice for me and hopefully some parts might resonate with you.

The Why.

I’m one of those users that has an array of assorted devices and platforms. I have a Macbook Air for personal use, work with linux daily, have and android phone and an iPad. I therefore need a setup that is as platform/device agnostic as possible. This of course is where text files, markdown and dropbox come into play.

In an information centric age, having access to all of it is of great importance. Although I won’t always need to access my task list when working on linux, or maybe some technotes on my android device, I would like to have that option if the need arises.

Currently I use various diferent apps for most needs and although they strive to be as crossplatform as possible, there is always the doubt of longevity! I DO like Wunderlist for my task lists and while they have a native mac app, a linux app, an android and iOS version, how long will they be around. Will a free app go paid forcing me to either migrate loads of information or pay for the service (totally worth it of course). Evernote is great and all but for technotes it’s simply overkill.

So I did what any self respecting tech geek would do. I set out to use tools that I already own and change my workflow a little, in order to future proof it… and well, just because it’s a fun excercise.

The How

As the post title suggests, I’ll be building on some previous “workflows” bringing them together into one cohesive whole, with text as the medium and dropbox as the glue holding it all together.

As I previously stated, I’ll be using tools and applications that I already own, be it on the Mac or on any of my mobile devices. I’ll break this down by use rather than by device. I have 2 main use cases for text files. Lists and notes (technotes with tips and assorted other work related information).

Lists
Since I have TaskAgent on my iPad, it only makes sense that I concentrate all my lists in that format, whether they be task lists or just simple lists of things I’d like to buy or do. On the iPad, creating, editing and viewing is done by means of TaskAgent. A great app that only seems to get better with each update. On the Mac however, so much more is possible. The steps needed to quickly append items to an existing list with Alfred are detailed in this post. I create a new extension for every list I wish to update in this manner. To view the contents of a list, I return to an earlier post Alfred and Marked = Beautiful Productivity, where I set Alfred’s search scope to the folder where my lists are. In this manner I can summon Alfred, type part of a list name (also works for list content) hit enter and it opens in Marked. From here, if I need to further edit the list I hit ⌘E and it opens in my text editor of choice (in this case it’s Byword).

Notes
I tend to keep all my notes in a folder on dropbox. For the most part, creating, editing, searching and viewing is done through NValt. There is however a few times where I don’t really need to open NValt. for those times I once again use the method detailed in the post Alfred and Marked = Beautiful Productivity. On the iPad, there is a slew of great apps that sync with dropbox. I’ve been mainly using WriteUp and Byword.

The Conclusion

While this may seem as a convoluted workflow, it works for me. Surely there are better and easier methods and I’m certain I’ll expand and improve on these, but for now this is how I roll. For the few times where I need to set a tasks or reminders with a due date then I’ll use NotifyMe. You may also state, and rightfully so that I could achieve all this with much more ease using taskpaper or something similar, but hey… I’m a cheapskate! Why buy something else when I can do it with what I’ve already got!



  1. As can be found in posts from Federico Viticci, Brett Terpstra and Merlin Mann: