Nowadays everyone interested in productivity is looking for the next great note-taking app. Forget building a second brain in Notion or personal knowledge management system in Evernote. Roam Research is the cool kid on the playground. However, these apps are not future proof.

These applications might not be available in the next 30 or even 3 years. Let’s say that you start building your second brain in Notion at the age of 12. Do you want to access these notes in the future? Of course you do. That is the main point of keeping a personal life wiki or second brain. You want to review these notes later on. Else you can just listen to that Tim Ferris podcast without diligently taking notes. To ensure that our note-taking app can be easily readable in 2050, we need to look back. What software has survived the past 20 years? (75 computer years) That will be usable in holographic displys 100 years from now. The answer?

A plain text (.txt) file.

You can create a plain text file and edit using notepad if you are on Windows and text edit if you are on MacOS. Just write the current date and start writing your thoughts. Then when you want to write the next day, just write the date at the top of the file and write your thoughts.

One of the benefits of a digital journal is that you can just ctrl+f and search away. Another way of using a journal is to create one text file for each topic that you have thoughts about. So for example my folder named “thoughts on” would have the files

  • productivity
  • school
  • blogging
  • cats
  • memes
  • friends
  • internet

and in those files, I would write down the date and thoughts. Later on I can reflect on how my thoughts about something changed or became more concrete. The first best time to start a journal was 10 years ago, the second best time is now. (and other jokes we can tell ourselves. A day after I wrote this post, I switched to a completely new system. Blog/video coming soon.)

This idea was inspired by Derek Siver’s excellent post over at