My Journey to Personal Information Management

I have always wanted to have my own personal website where I could write about various topics. Around October last year (2023) I finally managed to find the time to start building this website. But ever since then, I've been hesitant to write any posts. Now I have finally decided to start this new year by writing my first post. So I will talk about personal information management in this post. Basically, how I try to organize my life and keep things in order.


Over the past few years, I have tried many tools and methods to manage my personal information in a way that I can trust my system to handle all the information I throw at it, without having to worry about forgetting an idea or an important event. I would always give up after a few days or a month at the most. Over time, I realised that I was trying to apply methods that worked for other people to myself, and that was the main reason why I didn’t stick with any of them. After that, I started keeping the ideas that seemed to work and trying to build my own workflow. That’s what I’m going to talk about in the rest of this post.

Capturing thoughts

Capturing thoughts is all about writing down whatever comes into your head and which is not actionable at the moment. This was largely inspired by David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. This method allows me to clear my mind and let go of thoughts that I would otherwise have to remember until I get a chance to either process them or store them somewhere that was inaccessible at the time the thought came to me.

The problem with capturing thoughts is that sometimes the effort required to capture the thought is greater than the effort required to simply keep the thought in your mind, even if you’re aware that you may eventually forget it.

To overcome this problem, it is important to choose the right tool. Personally, I always go for smartphones, even though I usually prefer to keep my personal information in plain text. But when it comes to capturing thoughts, the data is usually stored temporarily. I would have to move it somewhere else anyway.

It is also important to choose the right application with the least amount of resistance. The one I use is P!n .

It’s a very minimalist Android app that I’ve been using for a couple of years now. I have never lost a note while using this app and the features it offers are all that I need. I have tried other apps such as Pinnit which offers very similar features to the former, plus extra features such as setting reminders. But the fact that I have to go into the app to write the note is a deal breaker for me.

Managing habits

Habits are any tasks I have to do on a regular basis. They can be as simple as daily routines like brushing my teeth. In addition to these daily routines, I like to add other productivity habits that I want to make part of my day, such as reading books.

I think the most important thing about managing habits is reminders and history. There are many tools that can provide this, even notebooks can be used to track habits. I honestly haven’t tried many tools, I’ve been using the Android app Loop Habit Tracker for a couple of years now and I find it ticks almost all the boxes for me. The habits can be measured if necessary, the interface is very intuitive and offers useful graphs to keep track of your history. The notifications are persistent, so they don’t disappear until I check that I’ve completed the task. And there’s a bonus: the checkmark widget, which allows me to check my habits from the home screen. I only use it for measurable tasks because I have to update it several times a day. The only problem I have with this app is that I lose my habit notifications every time I restart the phone, which doesn’t happen very often.

Bullet journal

I used to think that I would never stick to a non-digital way of keeping track of tasks, notes, events… I mean, we have smartphones and computers for that now. It just didn’t make sense to leave all the features of modern apps like reminders and filters for pen and paper. But now that I have given it a fair chance (5 months so far), I think it serves a good purpose, at least for me. It’s not life-changing or anything like that. But mostly it has helped me get into the habit of checking in with myself. When it comes to self-discipline, that turned out to be what I lacked the most.

I think what is most important about the bullet journal is the practice that is built around it. It’s about reviewing everything you write in a timely manner, which has the benefit of weeding out anything that doesn’t matter as time goes on. I’m still thinking about applying this method in a digital way, but for now I like that it works well enough for my everyday life, so I’ll stick with it for this year at least.


That will be all for this article. I wanted to talk about another tool, but I think it deserves its own post, so I will leave it for another time.