I have too many drafts to handle!

Drafts made it too easy to dump my thoughts into text.

I have too many drafts to handle. I tried to Merge them, file them into Obsidian, act on them but I have since given up. Sometimes, I tell myself that it might just be easier to tag them in Drafts and keep them into Workspaces i.e. using Drafts as my filing system instead. The Search is pretty good anyway.

I know I should make it a habit to review my drafts at the end of the day to move them to it’s appropriate system. Often, I find myself too exhausted at the end of the day that I just want to close the computer and call it a day. Then, they start to pile up.

What is the best practice?

i have built an action group to get my thoughts into a single draft and process it later on:

You can also use this action to process your „INBOX“ workspace.

Personally I send drafts to either todoist, Craft or DEVONthink- but at least some drafts I just store in Drafts and Tag them into different workspaces

  • Make it your standing first task of the following day.
  • If timing permits, set aside time for a weekly review.

At some point you know you are going to have to do it. Tactics and tools can help speed that up, but if you have no energy to allow yourself to do it, you either need to give yourself more energy at that time, or change the time to where you have more energy.

Thanks for your suggestions. I will try out the action group recommended by @FlohGro .

One thing I notice is that my drafts tends to be around notes taken for the same customers, just that they come in on different days. This is where the Merge was really useful and I just decided recently that once I have merged them, I will trash the individual drafts, so that IF I end up using Drafts as a filing system, I don’t get duplicates when searching.

Edit: I just learned that I can append into an existing drafts from quick capture!

The one thing I need to figure out is how I can have a timestamp printed at the top of the drafts when I create them using the quick capture shortcut (CTRL-SPACE, in my case, in a Mac) so that when I merge them, these drafts are separated by timestamp. I think there is an action on merging that does this. I have to search for it this weekend.

This is not helpful but I couldn’t help myself… How many drafts are we actually talking about here? I’m a little over 2000 atm but I’ve been over 5000 before with zero issues.

Mine pales in comparison to yours. I am in the hundreds… how do you even manage??

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To be honest, brilliantly! In so many different ways! It’s one of the reasons I love/depend on Drafts so much - it’s the only space in which I feel completely free to create as many or as few separate notes/“files” as I need without consequence. (And yet I have comfortably drafted notes over 15000 words before.) If you’re interested/if it’d be of help, I’m more than willing to go over some of the particulars of what I mean either here or privately if you’d like. My contact info can be found on my profile. :slight_smile:

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Would be interested how you manage drafts :slight_smile: do you have a writeup of that?

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Well shucks! For one thing, I’m flattered, @FlohGro that someone of your familiarity/potency with Drafts would be curious about my setup hehe. I’ve been writing a lot about Drafts recently, but something as straight up as “How I Manage Drafts” sounds like something I should start right now!

As of this moment, there’s quite a bit of raw evidence of my configuration available publicly on the web. davidblue.wtf/drafts is the main index of an experiment I’ve been doing using my NeoCities actions. If you’re really curious and want to spend the time, most of my total setup is on the directory, just unlisted - you can find my best attempt at indexing its links on my Drafts-specific GitHub repo.

And then there’s this WIP draft of a thing I’ve been working on for a while but you must keep it a secret… (It’s actually more of an outline of my setup at the moment than an address of its original intended purpose lol.)

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fundamentally trust Drafts more than any other notetaking/word living application I’ve ever used, and a good deal of that comes from what feels like an extremely direct line to Greg.

This, this and thrice this. :wink:

Oh lord… I’ll be browsing through these pages for a while. On a quick skim, it looks like there’s a lot there that resonates with me and the way I view Drafts. H/T for the detailed documentation of your set-up!

@belgarion: FWIW, at last count, my inbox held just under 9000 drafts. I live between my main Drafts inbox and a few other workspaces, so that’s okay for me.

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Thanks for the links! Will definitely have a look into your repo :+1:t3: Always interesting to see how people use drafts (extensively) to get inspirations of what’s possible :ok_hand:t3:

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I’d suggest to try DEVONthink. You keep writing in Drafts and send all notes every now and then in a bulk over to DEVONthink—with one single action and not with specific actions created for specific kinds of notes. Because that would not be any different to your present situation.

DEVONthink will classify them. See if the results suit you.

You could also use tags and apply them directly after you have written a note. Singles notes are not a threat, a pile of them is. And the pile scares you so much you aren’t able to do anything anymore and then the pile grows even more. I know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, what you should be looking for is not the best practice but the best practice for you.

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Sounds to me that the best way you guys are using Drafts is as a repository too. I tried to send my drafts over to other places - Obsidian, email, Evernote - and that seems like a chore. If I use Drafts as a repository and just dump my daily notes taking into it without needing to take actions at the end of the day, I think I can live with that :slight_smile:

I’m not sure I’m up to trying another tool at this moment. I appreciate the suggestion.

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asking for the best practice here is an awfully broad question, I think. Like a lot of others on this thread, Drafts is my notes repo, but whether that’s the right answer for you depends on your workflow as a whole. Questions like “what notes am I capturing?” “When do I need them again and for what?” might also be useful to think about so you can decide on the right workflow.

First thing’s first, take a deep breath. I wouldn’t try to catch up on processing what’s already in there unless there’s anything urgent you know you have to deal with. Either leave it where it is or just highlight everything and send it into archive or give it a tag or something to give you a clean workspace. Then, spend the day working the way you usually would. The next day, try to find 5 or 10 minutes in your day where you can process things. Heck, even if you decide to use Drafts as your main notes app you’ll probably have to spend some time tagging and possibly clarifying things so you can find them again later or you’ll give yourself a headache, :relaxed:. As for when, well try some experiments. Does first thing in the morning work, to catch you up on what you were thinking the day before? Do you stop for coffee at 10 in the morning and that will work? I used to have a regular timeslot just after my son came home from school while he was having a snack. Basically, it’s far more about workflow, rather than tools in my experience.

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Yep. As you say, I don’t see Drafts as an in tray that needs to be emptied. I can empathise with that sense of overwhelm when you look at a pile of things that require attention and feel as if you don’t even know where to begin. By contrast, I don’t see my Drafts inbox as a list of things that need to be “done”. My actionable items live in GoodTask; Drafts is more like my active memory— I don’t need to empty it often, but by the same token, I don’t need to methodically engage with every item there. Any individual draft’s relative value changes over time.

What I’m currently finding really useful is a perennial “index” note that allows me to manage various different entry points to my repository of notes, updated over time. That, and a good level of comfort with a search/filter action…

Drafts offers most of what I need for working/thinking in/with notes— fully native apps, Shortcuts integration, url schemes, JavaScript actions for extensibility, wiki style links between notes, workspaces, etc. I’ve tried Obsidian, all of the other popular text-based note-making and knowledge management apps, and a lot of other less well-known ones; not one of them has offered anything I need that I don’t already have in Drafts.

That’s not to say that Drafts doesn’t have its limits. I’m just comfortable with what those limits are. And of course, YMMV. Standard horses for courses disclaimer applies.

Heartily agree!

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Agree with you here and with @jsamlarose (who’s been a big influence on me - I love his posts) - I’ve been using Drafts as my main notes repo for two years now… When I first started using Drafts I was leery about that. Being a “plain text files ” guy who swears by keeping these on my file system on my Mac, I had superstitions and worries about databases. But when I realized I can just export anything important to me from Drafts into a text file, I decided to commit to it.

What’s also interesting is that I think of the data in it differently now. Again, if it’s super-important or something I want to keep I just export it once in a while. But otherwise, my thinking has changed about this and I’m trying not to be so worried about it. Meaning… if something happens, ok. It’s a kind of an “anti-hoarding” behavior for me. If I haven’t exported it, it can’t be that important. That’s been freeing. Currently at 503 drafts.

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The way I deal with numerous drafts (as of today, I counted 1,397,711 words in 12,646 drafts. It’s 111 words per draft in average) intimately relies on Drafts app core functions: tags, workspaces, searches, actions. Anyway, the optimal use of an app, whatever it is, is very often tied to its forces and pros (v. cons).

I do not directly use tags to find drafts. Rather, tags are just here to send a draft to its required workspace.

My worspaces are permanent and serve to sort drafts of same category depending on my needs. For instance, I’m interstitially journaling on Drafts, so I have a workspace Journal where each draft is dedicated to an interstitial journaling day. I use Drafts to generate lists of things (that are often used as menus to pick an item through processing actions in other workspaces): the lists are all in a Menus workspace. And so on and so forth : other workspaces are Months, Days, Entries, Notes, Archives, Templates and JSON.

But to me, the real pros of Drafts are in actions and search functions.

That’s why the main way I navigate through my drafts is with 3 searching actions: 2 to search for words through all workspaces, allowing search operators (the first searching action for strict searches and the other one for larger searches) and 1 to search within a specific draft (also with search operators).

The search actions are powerful because they just take advantage of the way Drafts is built : they simply edit the search query of each and all of my workspaces. This way, even if I deal with more than 12k drafts, the search result is immediate! There’s no lagging in finding what I’m searching for. I just go to the workspace I want, and the drafts with the search result are already there, standing to be read.

The search in a draft action parses the draft and prompts the results in a way I can select the line where the text has been found and go straight to it.

Finally, I have also an action to navigate everywhere through my drafts with just the help of a button above my keyboard. I call it the “universal goto button”. This action takes either the selection or the first sentence in the current line and opens the draft which title contains the selection or the first sentence. If there are several drafts which title contains the selection or the first sentence, the action prompts me which one I want to open. “Universal goto button” because it also :

  • opens in Safari the url written in the current line
  • opens in Calendar the event in the line (I note events in Drafts in a specific way so that the action can recognise them)
  • opens in Things the task in the line (same than events)
  • opens in Plans the address in the line
  • etc.
    I found this button much more simple and powerful than the standard wiki style links.

I hope this feedback helps!

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I can relate. Thanks for sharing!

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I’m a little late to this conversation, but I have a few thoughts.

First, quite some time ago, I put a lot of thought into how I should store (and recall) the random notes that Drafts lets me create. One immediate realization was…if you can’t find it (or simply never see it after you write it), you’re really just hoarding. What’s the point of keeping a note for future reference if you never refer to it?

So, I set up my Drafts Inbox to only hold untagged drafts. In my worldview, untagged means unreviewed. The badge on my Drafts app icon tells me how many unfiled items I have at any moment. And that little red badge motivates me in my continuing quest for “Inbox Zero”.

I’ve also finally accepted that, no matter how much I believe I will do it, I really never get around to reviewing later, even if I schedule a regular time to do it. I still have a “GTD review” reminder that pops up on my phone once a week, and I can’t remember the last time I actually did that.

So I try really hard to tag drafts as soon as I create them. This requires me to keep my list of tags thin and realistic. I try not to create a new tag unless I really think I will use it regularly. I need to be able to remember my tags so that I can recall the right one whenever I create a draft. But I’m also not hesitant to create a new tag when the need arises. Tagging an item with multiple tags helps me perform effective searches.

I use workspaces (which are really just tag lists on steroids) for projects and specific types of work, like “writing” or my “world domination” business plan. But in many cases, my drafts are just tagged and not linked to any particular workspace. If I’m working on a particular project, I’ll open that workspace, but if I just want to find a piece of stored data, I’ll just filter by tag. In many cases though, I’ve found that Drafts’ universal search function can find what I’m looking for instantly, without even needing to sort through tags or workspaces. That assumes that I can remember a specific enough keyword to search for.

I do review my Inbox (containing all untagged items) periodically (whenever that little red badge starts bugging me). But, to be honest, I actually spend more time cleaning out my tags list. Sometimes I’ll rename a tag, or consolidate two tags into one. The tags, and the workspaces that depend on them, keep me organized.

Occasionally, I’ll pull up a tag and review all items with that tag. I don’t do that often, but it’s good to do a little housekeeping every now and then.

I don’t use Drafts for lists. I use my iPhone’s Reminders app for that. But I do send items to that app via Drafts.

I’m also picky about which items I archive after sending them somewhere else (like to a text message or an email). I find that, in most cases, they can always be found there and don’t need to clutter up my Drafts repository. Most of the time, if I send it outside Drafts, it can be trashed.

One last suggestion: After you set up your Inbox to show only untagged items, pick a word or exact phrase that you think many of your related drafts might contain. Do a universal search for that word or phrase, and tag all the resulting drafts with a tag. I think you’ll find you can process a huge number of unfiled drafts that way, leaving a much smaller number to be reviewed individually.

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