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Four ways to make sense of your fleeting thoughts in journal


Many times, you may have an important idea that you want to quickly jot down. Because inspiration always comes and goes in a flash, at times like these, what you want is to start typing as soon as you open Heptabase. In Heptabase, you can use the Journal feature to capture these types of ideas.

Typically, a journal contains two types of content. The first type is content that is "only important for the day, but not needed in the long term", such as a daily to-do list. The second type is content that is "fragmented but important that you want to use or reference in the future," which could be a few sentences, screenshots, or other items. We recommend four ways of handling this second type of content, and we encourage you to choose the one that works best for your use case.

Whiteboard Journal Panel​

If you primarily use Heptabase for learning and manage your cards with whiteboards, our suggestion for processing journals is to set aside a fixed day each week to convert important ideas from your journals into note cards on the whiteboard. To accomplish this, simply open the whiteboard, click the Journal button on the top right corner, or use the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + 4 to open the Journal on the right side of the whiteboard.


When you open the Journal, you can use the selection box to drag and drop the content you consider important onto the whiteboard. This content will be directly converted into note cards on the whiteboard!


Because the content of the journal is usually fragmented, sometimes you may want to add this content to an existing note card instead of creating a new one. At Heptabase, the process is just as simple: you just need to drag and drop the selected content onto an existing note card on the whiteboard!


Journal Cards on whiteboard​

If you primarily use Heptabase to improve self-awareness by writing down your thoughts and emotions every day and reflecting on the past week, month, and year, our suggestion is that you don't need to convert the journal's content into note cards. Instead, you can create a whiteboard for each month, and add all the journal cards of the same month to that whiteboard.

It's easy to do this: you can right-click the empty space of a whiteboard to add today's journal card. When you put all the journal cards of the same month together on the same whiteboard, you can easily see the pattern and changes in your thoughts and gain a deeper understanding of yourself. If you want to learn more about this workflow, we recommend checking out this article written by one of our users.


Turn into new card​

If you prefer to manage your cards using tags, our third suggestion for processing journals is to select important content in the journal, open the block menu, and click on the option "Turn into new card" to convert it into a note card. Then, add tags to the note card after conversion.


For example, let's say you have a meeting and take notes in your daily journal during the meeting. After the meeting ends, you can convert this content into a note card and add the tag #meeting. This note card will then be added to the tag's database.

If you have previously used a "graph-based note-taking app," our fourth recommended method for journaling is to use the bi-directional linking feature while writing a journal.

For example, you might have a tag called #friends, and inside it, there are "Friend A," "Friend B," and other note cards. Suppose you are writing a journal today; you can mention these note cards, such as "Friend A" and "Friend B," using the @ menu while writing. In the future, when you want to review your recent interactions with Friend A, you can open the note card for "Friend A" and see from its backlinks which contents in different journals mentioned him.


If you use this bi-directional linking approach, you won't need to spend time converting the content of journals into note cards. However, there is one thing you should be aware of: although bi-directional linking may seem useful and magical at first, if you overuse it and create bidirectional links whenever possible, it may actually make the really important links hard to stand out and catch your attention, resulting in a counterproductive outcome.

Therefore, at Heptabase, our recommended approach is: if you intend to seriously learn or research a topic, we suggest you start with a whiteboard and consciously use arrows and spatial relationships to organize your understanding of the topic. Journals and bi-directional links are useful as channels to assist you in capturing ideas, but for thoughts related to important topics, we suggest that you ultimately take the time to integrate them into your whiteboards.