Stopping the Merry-Go-Round at Mem.ai

Like many of us, I have been attempting to become more productive in 2022, and while I have made a great deal of progress in my efforts. There has been a good deal of needless flailing about when it comes to finding the best note-taking apps for me to use.

On Friday, I got off the merry-go-round, deleted non-system note-taking apps off my devices but Mem.ai, and stopped chasing the perfect note-taking app. 

Why?

  • To move on and start writing again.

There will always be the latest and greatest apps that can do more than we can use. Some have features that are missing in the one you are using now. At some point, it comes down to what we will use.

You see, I’ve been searching for a perfect note-taking app versus one that I can use.

There is a difference.

Mem.ai

Mem.ai is not perfect, but it is the note-taking app that works closest to how I want to do things with the least amount of friction. I don’t want or need to be frig, farting around with multiple plugins or U/I choices that overwhelm or distract me.

Also, despite using folders of some sort all my working life, I am not a fan of folders or hierarchical filing systems. There is something limiting to how I have always seen and done things with them.

The concern that I had about Mem.ai, is that it’s coming out of beta and the future is uncertain. Well, I would love to see it be block-based, but I can live within the page-based model it has.

That Mem.ai will improve the product as it matures is a given – if it survives for the long haul. Those things that Mem.ai needs to improve to make it the product that I believe it can or will become. 

However, it was the uncertainty…what the future holds for it held me back from committing to using Mem.ai before now. I have been burnt too many times in the past. Finding a great app and then it disappears or languishes into nothing.

I was wrong

Thinking this way serves no purpose. If Mem.ai is the best note-taking app for how I want to do things, why not use it? If things don’t work out at some point in the future for Mem.ai, there are a multitude of other note taking apps that I could move to. 

It is time for me to stop worrying about something I cannot control and move forward towards the direction I want to take my writing and focus on that. Not which app I will be using.

Let’s back up

This all came to a head last week when I was riding on a merry-go-round that was spinning faster and faster as the week went along.

Certain tendencies that I have struggled with most of my life had spiraled out of control. Instead of writing and using a note-taking app, I went into the vicious cycle of looking at how I could “improve” my note taking app choice. Then changing my mind again a few hours later, when I remembered features that a different app had that I wanted. 

I looked back at my journal entries afterwards and went “Wow! That was not what I expected to be doing this week.”

To make a long story short, reading this article How and Why I’ve Dramatically Improved My PKM by Switching to Mem After 1 Year Using Obsidian by Paco Contero helped me stop and think about what I was doing.

The criteria that he described in his article talking about how he made his decisions to switch note-taking apps within his PKM system made sense to me:

I achieve it by looking for 3 imperative things:

Simplicity. I have to make things simpler. If not, why the hell am I moving.

Improvement. I have to improve: higher performance, less friction and speed up my life.

Fresh air. I need to enjoy a better GUI and UX. It motivates me a lot. It gives me energy, power, and dynamite to keep accomplishing my goals without suffering, feeling anxious, or any other negative emotion.

These are the features that I want from my note-taking app and Mem.ai checks the boxes for me. 

Paco Cantero

At that point, I knew that I needed to choose a note taking app that was good enough – not perfect.

If you are having difficulties figuring out which note taking app is right for you, I recommend reading Cantero’s article. It clarified many of the things I was thinking about and helped me figure out the direction I wanted to go. Even if I hadn’t decided to choose Mem.ai as my note taking app of choice and chose something else.

What I learned?

That there are times when we need to go with our gut instincts.

In this case, my gut kept bringing me back to Mem.ai, a note-taking app that I first discovered back in February and have gone back to using multiple times. Despite all the reasons that I kept telling myself that it wasn’t ready to be my note-taking app, I kept coming back to it.

It wasn’t that Mem.ai wasn’t ready for me, it was more I wasn’t ready for it.

There will always be questions about what the future holds for any product or app. If I allow myself to not take the risk of using an app that I enjoy using due to what might happen, then I will miss out on a great opportunity to move forward with my writing.

Mem.ai will either become the app I have been looking for, or it will disappear, and I will start my search again.

Either way, time will tell if I made the correct choice – for me.

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