Jake LaCaze


Using Twitter in 2021

My strategy for using Twitter in 2021 means using twitter.com and Twitter’s official apps as little as possible. Instead, I rely on a couple third-party apps and services for a better experience: NetNewsWire and micro.blog.

If you’ve never considered using anything other than Twitter’s official offerings, you may be asking why anyone would do such a thing. I’ll give a couple reasons below.

That damn timeline

You never know what tweets Twitter’s algorithm will throw at you if you stick with the default Home option for your timeline.

Screenshot of Twitter's timeline options Screenshot of Twitter’s timeline options

Sure, you can opt to view latest tweets first for a chronological view, but I can’t help questioning the setting’s consistency when old tweets reappear in my timeline. Also, the timeline view seems to reset to the default Home option from time to time. And then there are those damn ads that pop in and confuse you.

Enter NetNewsWire, a free RSS reader for Mac and iOS.

In addition to subscribing to your favorite blog feeds, NetNewsWire can connect to your Twitter account and provide a feed of tweets from the accounts you follow. Tweets are mostly in reverse chronological order, though I have noticed some threads do get out of order. But I’ll blame that on the tweeters since any thread over three tweets long should be a blog post anyway.

How much does NetNewsWire cost?

Free. Simple as that. Though, as previously noted, this app is only for Mac and iOS.

Getting sucked into the abyss of tweets

You get on Twitter to post one thing. You glance at your timeline. You look up and three hours have passed.

This is where micro.blog comes in.

micro.blog is a Twitter alternative that allows you to microblog (and also blog longform) from your own domain.

Connect your Twitter account and you can cross-post to your Twitter timeline. I especially like that micro.blog allows you to cross-post from multiple external RSS feeds, so micro.blog is my hub for cross-posting my blogs to Twitter.

Because things tend to be slower on micro.blog, there are fewer opportunities to get sucked into a rabbit hole. So I can post, check in on micro.blog, and then go on my merry way.

How much does micro.blog cost?

micro.blog offers three tiers for individuals:

micro.blog also offers a Teams option for $20 a month.

A better Twitter experience

In short, NetNewsWire and micro.blog combine to create a Twitter experience that works for me. While I wouldn’t subscribe to micro.blog only for the option to cross-post to Twitter, I do feel that the option adds value to my subscription.

On the other hand, at the low, low cost of free, NetNewsWire is worth the cost of a download, and more.

Using Obsidian as a planner

In an attempt to find balance between the digital and analog in my life, I’ve inconsistently maintained a bullet journal for the last couple years. I initially fell in love with the analog approach to staying organized, but as time went on, I couldn’t help feeling as if something was lacking. Also, I’m accepting that, while I love the idea of writing more by hand and unplugging when possible, the practice is quite time-consuming and inefficient, especially if I plan to later type my writing to archive digitally or post online.

Recently I tried migrating my bullet journal practice to iA writer. While writer is a great app, it’s focused on one thing: writing. Unsurprisingly, this experiment didn’t work, so I found myself wanting something better. This searching is what led me to give Obsidian another shot, primarily as a planner.

I had also considered giving Notion another look but settled on Obsidian for two simple reasons:

  1. Obsidian is free.
  2. My files are saved locally, so I don’t have to worry if I need to work offline. (That said, I am using iCloud to sync between my Mac and iOS devices.)

Prerequisites

This post is not intended to serve as a tutorial for Obsidian itself, so readers are expected to have some previous knowledge:

Method

August 2021 is just around the corner, so let’s set up our planner as if we’re trying to get ahead for the new month.

I started my 2021 planner with a file I called 2021 Future Log.

Basically, I use an H2 for each month’s heading and then list things I expect to do in the appropriate months.

screenshot of future log Figure 1 - A screenshot of the future log

Next, I create another file for the week and fill it with some tasks I think I need to do in the next seven days. This one is called 2021-W32 (because 08.01.2021–08.07.2021 is the 32nd week of 2021).

Figure 2 - A screenshot of the weekly log

And then, I’ll make entries for the individual days of the week. I’ll start with Sunday with a file named 2021.08.01 Sun.

One thing I love about Obsidian is the ability to embed notes within notes. I start each daily note by embedding the monthly note and then the weekly note.

Since I put my monthly notes in one file (2021 Future Log), I want to make sure that I embed only the portion that pertains to August, as opposed to the whole future log. Once I embed my monthly note, I want to be sure to type a hashtag (#) after the title so that I get a dropdown with options for other headings to choose and embed.

screenshot of embedding tutorial Figure 3 - A screenshot showing how to embed a note within a note

I select the heading for August and then proceed with embedding the weekly note.

screenshot of embedded notes in daily note Figure 4 - A screenshot of notes embedded in another note


Note: Before we proceed with the rest of the template, let me explain why I like embedding the monthly and weekly notes into the daily notes.

With a traditional notebook bullet journal, to get the full picture, I would basically have to look at three different notes: the daily note, the weekly note, and the monthly note. I would have to search my index in the beginning of my bullet journal to locate these three notes and then read over them and combine in my head what needed to get done on these three different time spans. But, thanks to the embeddings, I have all three time frames on one page, in an order that makes sense to me.

Also, I love that, within my daily note, I can check off one of the events in my monthly or weekly note and the change will be made in the source note and in all other notes in which that note is embedded.


Now that my monthly and weekly notes have been embedded, I proceed with the rest of my template.

screenshot of complete daily note Figure 5 - A screenshot showing a complete daily note

Explanation of remaining headings

I’m using Agenda for events and tasks scheduled for a specific time. This is where I would usually put meetings.

I like breaking To-Dos into Personal and Work subcategories so that I can keep some separation between the two.

Notes is where I document things that happened that weren’t exactly planned or required.

And finally, Recap is a longer form journal entry–a reflection upon the day.

I repeat this set up for the other days of the week and then repeat the set up each week and month and, eventually, year.

Conclusion

The main reason I think this system can work for me going forward is due to the fact that Obsidian now has mobile apps, as opposed to my first run–in either late 2020 or early 2021.

Maintaining a bullet journal has meant trying to carry a notebook of some sort with me everywhere I went and then feeling lost if I didn’t have it with me. Because my cell phone is with me almost everywhere I go–the shower and swimming pools are a couple exceptions that come to mind–I don’t have to try to keep my planner with me; it already is with me, in my pocket.

During my last run with Obsidian, I tried to keep everything in the program, to grow my digital garden and my second brain. This time, I plan to keep my writing (blog posts, short stories, attempts at novels, etc.) out of Obsidian and in iA writer. In the short term, I plan to focus on making Obsidian work for me as my planner. If I can make that work, then I will consider branching out and throwing more at it and seeing what else can stick.



Subscribe
Via emailRSS

Contact
Email me