February 22, 2021

Daily Index Cards with Daily Numbering

Using the same numbering format for digital and analog organizing seemed like a given compatibility requirement for me. But by just changing the numbering of my index cards to Julian Date and making their sorting magnitudes easier, my workflow has improved. The usefulness of these low-effort analog notes add value because they help me make better and easier digital notes with what I identified in the previous step.

Julian DatesJulian Dates

Logical dates like ISOs YYYY-MM-DD work great for files and folders. But on loose pieces of pages with my terrible handwriting1, the system breaks down quickly. There’s also a lot of additional information that is not useful in the moment: year and month are easy enough, but it’s 6 characters (plus 2 separators) more than I need when: 1) creating the note, and 2) sorting them.

On 2) sorting, is where the simple D format2 shines: try to quick sort pieces of paper by date (2021-02-19, 2021-01-30, 2021-02-1) vs by number (50,30,32) and notice which one you finish faster. You can argue that dates allow you to sort and classify, because when you need to check on a day’s note you’d have to convert from the Julian date calendar — and you’re right.

Here’s the thing: I’m hardly going back to these notes. I’m storing them, yes. But they are just a step above sticky notes. I’m drawing on them in meetings, making quick lists, writing an important concept or something I didn’t understand. Their value is in creating a visual reminder of where my thoughts were at the time of writing — not so much as document of record.

These notes have really helped me on my shutdown and startup routines, and extracting the most important items from days. That’s it.


  1. Anything beyond 3 digits becomes unreadable — evident by the fact that I didn’t need to blackout anything on the photo, since my handwriting is encrypted even to me↩︎

  2. Formally Day of year (numeric) D in the Unicode #35 standard, it’s a non-issue to get the date from iOS shortcuts, Alfred or even use them in Obsidian.↩︎


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