📚Noisy Deadlines

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."- Douglas Adams

What I read in December 2020


I'm moving all my notes out of Evernote. And I have a notebook there with all my e-books notes and highlights for the past 7+ years. A total of 276 notes. One note per book.

I've always used this free service my.clippings.io to export my Kindle highlights to Evernote. It also exports to .txt, .pdf and .doc. But, the only way to have separate files (one note per book) is when I use the Evernote option.

My issue here is: how can I convert all these Evernote notes to markdown??😕


I have never asked that question before. But suddenly I felt like I was overwhelmed and that I was spending too much time and energy to manage my lists. So this year I decided to sit down and write a description of my GTD system to understand what was going on.

The inspiration came from a post from Cal Newport in which he describes his Rooted Productivity document. For him, it's a one page document that he keeps in a plastic sleeve on his desk. The idea is to have a “root commitment” that includes all your productivity habits.

GTD is based on 5 steps, which are: 1) CAPTURE: Collect (Inbox) 2) CLARIFY: What is it? 3) ORGANIZE: Put it where it belongs 4) REFLECT: Review and Update 5) ENGAGE: What is the next action? Do it!

Based on Cal Newport's idea, I came up with a description of my system based on the following questions:

  • Which tools do I use for each of the 5 GTD Phases?
    • What are my Inboxes? Where are they?
    • What are my list managers? (including tasks and project lists)
    • How do I organize the stuff that comes into my inbox?
    • What is on my Calendar?
    • What is my reference system? How do I file non-actionable things?
  • Core habits and routines: what are the habits that are important to me?
  • Periodic Reviews: what are the reviews I have scheduled to keep the system up-to-date?

> I don't know if other people are doing this, but I just thought of making a small list of things I want to/will do after the outbreak ends.

Yes, tmo, I've been thinking about this. I moved some of my project to the “someday/maybe” list because of COVID. These are one of the things I want to get back to after the pandemic is under control:

  • Trip to Brazil (who knows when that will happen now...)
  • Renew passports
  • Various quick trips to nearby cities
  • Get back to swimming
  • Visit Museums
  • Borrow graphic novels from the Public Library

It's December and I feel a kind of relief 2020 is coming to an end! I know things are not going to magically be resolved on Jan 01, 2021, but leaving this year behind makes me feel good. What a year!

This month I'll focus on self-reflection, being calm and getting back to simplicity: Less consumption, more creation. And rest.

– keep life simple. Be happy.



By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.


I'm re-discovering this universe of Plain Text and Markdown enthusiasts. It's fascinating!

I discovered Write.as in 2018 and that was the first time I saw Markdown. I used to have my blog on Medium at that time because I loved the writing experience there (I used Tumblr before that). Then I moved all my writing to Write.as. I love the minimalist interface and distraction-free environment.

I used Write.as for about a year and something happened in my life that made me look for complex solutions. Go figure... Or maybe I just wanted to try WordPress to see what it was all about.

WordPress was... overwhelming! Bloated with stuff I didn't need or wanted...

And then they changed to this new editor. I didn't want to write there anymore. It was cumbersome! So I started using Evernote, Word, OneNote to write. Then I would copy-paste into WordPress. What a mess! I made lots of experimentation. None of them pleased me. Formatting issues were endlessly annoying!

And now I'm back at Write.as 💜. Re-learning Markdown, and loving it!


A Blank Notebook Photo by MESSALA CIULLA from Pexels

I'm bummed about note taking apps now. I've been thinking that they've become much more than “note taking” tools.

I've always been a “files/folders” person. I like to own my files, and move them around, and copy them for back-ups. So, I have my main reference system on my hard drive, but also synced to the cloud. I now have the Office 365 subscription, so all my files are synced in OneDrive. At one point I had Google Drive, then I tried Dropbox and ended up with Microsoft because of the Office suite included.

When note taking apps became a thing, I wanted to try it. I started using Evernote in 2010 (oh, geez, 10 years !?) and I've been on and off it many times. It's always been confusing to me what belonged to Evernote and what belonged to my OneDrive.


Since the pandemic started, I got into the habit of going for a walk every day. Sometimes I walk, sometimes it’s a combination of running and walking. I used to be a gym person. With the gyms closed during the first lockdown restrictions, going for a walk outside at the end of day kept me sane after spending the whole day inside. I used to think it was a waste of time to go out and spend one hour just walking! And now the habit stuck. It's relaxing, it's good for my mind and body.

I’ve had ups and downs regarding my spinal health this year. The pandemic totally changed my exercise routine, and I had a few months of intermittent back/sciatica pain. Yoga became inaccessible to my body, running was out the question, body weight was challenging, so I just walked during the worst of it.

I’m better. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor regularly, I’m back to yoga a few times a week, I learned a few strengthening body weight exercises that I do in the morning every day to remain pain free.

🍁 This fall season inspired me to try hiking. I have hiked a few times in the last couple of years. Now I felt ready to explore nearby trails every week. My husband was my intrepid companion on all these adventures. We focused on easy trails around the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

Below is a compilation of wonderful images from the trails we explored from the end of September to early November 2020 😎.

  1. Mer Bleu – Ottawa, ON
  2. Mud Lake Trail – Ottawa, ON
  3. King Mountain Trail – Gatineau Park – Gatineau, QC
  4. Chapman Mills Conservation Area – Ottawa, ON
  5. Old Quarry Trail – Ottawa, ON
  6. P4 Trail Stony Swamp Sector – Ottawa, ON
  7. Beaver Trail, Chipmunk Trail, Lime Kiln Trail – Ottawa, ON
  8. Sheila McKee Park – Ottawa, ON

I was excited about the Nirvana app as you can read here. I still think it’s the best out-of-the-box implementation of GTD on a multi-platform web-based app. A few things discouraged me to continue relying on the app. Nirvana’s development is slow and I got a little bit upset about an update released back in July with a few bugs. Those bugs were addressed in a later update, but that week dealing with the app’s hiccups got me thinking about other apps for my GTD tasks system.

So, as any good-old productivity nerd, I looked back at some apps.

My initial thoughts were:

  • Facile Things: it’s strictly GTD-based, but for me it has a clunky interface and too little flexibility.
  • Nozbe: it’s good, but expensive. I like the way it organizes and filters by context, but the interface was not my favorite.
  • Todoist: I’m already used to it. One of my all-time favourites for task management. Latest updates changed the project's behavior, but Calendar integration and total flexibility is its highlight.

After a week testing these apps I tried to understand why Nirvana was not cutting it for me anymore. It all has to do with friction. How easy it is to add something to my Inbox? Am I getting a trusted list of my next actions? Are there things falling through the cracks? How can I track them? Is it easy to coordinate my next actions and my calendar events? Do I like to see my lists? Am I avoiding my lists out of fear?


I was happy to have finished “The Innovators”. I started listening to this book back in April and I stopped several times to take notes. It's an encyclopedia of our digital technology development. Then I wanted light reads, the types you have fun and are not expecting grandiose conflicts. I'm more and more interested in reading about the art of writing. I started with “Writing down the bones”. Lighthearted and inspiring!

What I read in October 2020

  • The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson, 542p: Excellent compilation of the history of digital technology. It starts in the 1800's, which Ada Lovelace and Babbage, going through Vacuum Tubes, Capacitors, Alan Turing, Grace Hopper, John von Neumann, the breakthrough invention of transistors, Bell Labs, Intel, Texas Instruments, Hacker culture, Video Games, Xerox, ARPANet, BBS, the Altair 8800 computer, Internet, Blogs, Wikipedia, Microsoft, Apple, Google. It is a detailed exploration of how innovation is driven by collaboration and all advances are built on top of the past experiences. There is no one genius creator, innovation is most vibrant where there is room for idea sharing between communities. And the Internet allowed for a new level of collaborative process, the author calls it “the collective wisdom of crowds”. I loved that he closes with a reflection on Ada Lovelace's ideas of integrating Arts and Humanities with Math and Physics, resulting in what she called “Poetical Science”. A must read to understand where we are and how we got here.
  • Kenobi (Star Wars) by John Jackson Miller, 401p: A look into how Obi-Wan Kenobi was known as Ben in Tatooine. He only wants to be left alone (so that nobody realises he's a Jedi) but he keeps getting tangled into local affairs. It was interesting to get know a little bit about the sand people and the constant tension with the farmers. It covers a short period of his time there when he basically helps dissolve local grievances. Kinda like “A day in the life” of Ben Kenobi.
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg, 225p: I heard about this book when I was researching about a technique called free writing. This author developed this “writing practice” method in which you set a timer and free write whatever is in your mind, nonstop, flow-of-consciousness style. The book is a compilation of fun small essays about writing and how to develop a writing practice. It's light and amusing!
  • Finder (Finder Chronicles, #1) by Suzanne Palmer, 400p: Space adventures of Fergus Ferguson, a finder. He just wants to find a ship and bring it back to the owner, but he ends up entangled in local affairs. Fun, light space adventure. Excellent to sit back and relax.

#readinglist #books #reading

By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

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