If you’re like me, taking digital notes can feel somewhat magical. That semi-infinite space in the cloud is there just waiting for you to fill it up with your notes, documents, PDFs, web clippings, photos, drawings, even tables — anything you can think of or toss at it, it’s there forever, accessible from anywhere. Before you know it, there are piles and piles of notes!
Apps like Nimbus make it a breeze to collect and store what’s most important to us, and a note-taking system can be a powerful productivity tool when used thoughtfully. But just like our bedroom closets in the physical realm can easily devolve into cluttered chaos despite our best intentions — good luck finding that sweater! — so can our notes in the digital realm over time.
Until the A.I. bots take over and solve all our organizational woes, a little up-front thought given to folder and/or tag structure can be beneficial to our future selves. This guide aims to give you a simple-but-effective path to digital zen, whether you’re just getting started with a sparkling-new Nimbus workspace, or you’re the owner of a venerable mountain of notes.
Finding your roots
Have you ever put effort into deciding which folders should live at the top level of your workspace, only to struggle later to pick the right bucket, every dang time you add a new note? Have you ever gone crazy and built an intricate folder structure, only to eventually end up with a nested, hierarchical mess?
Perhaps over time you became tired of fighting the system, so you decided to simply toss everything into one giant bucket of mixed notes and rely heavily on search. But then notes got buried and forgotten over time, to the point that they weren’t of much use unless you could think of a specific title or keyword to search for. An antidote to problems like these is an exercise to find your “roots.”
A root can be defined as any primary activity, special interest, main context, or key responsibility that pertains to your everyday life. You can think of them as the “major themes” of your life. Here are some examples:
- Significant other
- Child, parent, or sibling
- Passion project
- Organization or university
- Club or activity
- Major client
- Side business
- Favorite topic or hobby
- Volunteer organization
- Routine obligation
I recommend that you form this list on a piece of paper or in a blank document, to make it malleable & easy to change as ideas come to mind.
Your “roots,” predictably, become your main folders in Nimbus. I like to give them an icon like “💠” so that they stand out — in fact, I’ll be using icons in folder names liberally throughout this guide. Of course, the choice of style is yours.
Implementing roots in Nimbus
Let’s go one level deeper and look at the internal structure of one of the root folders. Underneath the root named «University,» there are two nested levels of subfolders organized by a date scheme (more on this in a minute). At the deepest level are the binders that hold actual notes. The next example shows what this means and how I visually distinguish between them:
Example of inner folder structure using date-based organization
Expanding the «Coding» root, this time the subfolders are organized topically instead of by date. As before, the innermost «Scrapbook» and «Notes» are given unique icons to designate them as binders.
Example of inner folder structure using topical organization