Text files are one of those things that will never go away. They are organic to the computer world and are supported by every operating system. However, many people don’t take advantage of the awesome powers that text files hold. Here is my quick and simple guide to start implementing a little more text into your lifestyle.
Open up an editor
One the Mac? Use TextEdit in plain text mode. On the PC? Use Notepad or similar. It really doesn’t matter which text editor you end up using (note: Microsoft Word is not a viable option for what we’re trying to accomplish), what matters is that the application is as minimal as possible so you can focus on the content, not the window chrome.
Put the date in the file name
Use the scheme YYYY/MM/DD at the beginning or somewhere in your text file name. That way, you’re only a quick name-sort or query away from finding the file you want.
Have a todo list? Make a todo.txt. Have a draft of a blog post? Keep it in a my-awesome-draft.txt. Don’t overburden one text file with ALL of your information. Even thought it could handle the job, and some people prefer having one text file to rule them all, I find it is much easier to find and organize into folders my text files if they are separates beings.
Have a capture-all mentality
Keep one text file for those quick little blurbs of information you get throughout the day that you need to remember. Whether it be a quote, a movie you see a trailer for you like, or anything, throw it in that text file. You’ll always be able to go back and delete things you remembered or don’t feel are important anymore, but you’ll never be able to add back that one thing you can’t remember at the end of the day.
Writing in text files is a weird thing to do if you’ve never gotten into the practice of it before. Keep at it. Once you get use to having a million of little files all organized by folders, you will achieve a sense of peace and organization that, for me, is unmatched by any other application on your computer.
Love the text files and they will love you.
—Wednesday, 22 June 2011