Outline more, write more


I use TaskPaper for Mac daily. It’s a free-form task management app that uses a simple syntax to quickly create lists, outlines, and notes.

I keep a master list of things for work and another for creative ideas and blog posts open at all times. I’ve found that by using TaskPaper to create short outlines of ideas, I’m pushing out a lot more blog posts.

Example document in Taskpaper

The tool itself doesn’t matter—you could be using TaskPaper, Google Docs, or even Stickies—but the idea and process are the same. The goal is to just record your thoughts whenever you can (the companion iPhone app is nice, too) to capture things you otherwise dismiss.

Here’s the situation I often find myself in now that I’m in the routine of capturing my thoughts more often:

  • I have an tangental idea or thought and need to write it down, or else I’ll completely forget it in a few minutes.
  • I Cmd-Tab over to TaskPaper and capture the gist of it, usually in under a minute, in a 5-10 point outline.
  • Come back to TaskPaper and repeat for just about every other (seemingly) random idea I have in the day.

Since I end up back in TaskPaper taking notes other ideas, I end up skimming over those previous outlines to stir my thoughts a bit. That tends to lead to editing one or two of them a bit, which in turn leads to a pretty solid blog post for each outline. When I’m ready to write the full posts, I reread the outline, revise again if need be, and get to writing in WordPress.

The end result? At the time of writing this, and after writing eight short outlines today, I’ve already written three good sized blog posts for the week and I have plans to write two more tonight. Now* that’s* productivity.