Your tiny text companion & A matter of mental health
In this week's issue of Creativerly: Write and organise, a powerful markdown editor for iOS, the daily habits of happiness experts, and a lot more.
My name is Philipp and you are reading Creativerly, the weekly digest about creativity and productivity-boosting tools and resources, combined with useful insights, articles, and findings from the fields of design and tech. The newsletter built for the creative community.
Hey and welcome to Creativerly 206👋
One of the great advantages of writing and growing a newsletter is definitely making incredible connections with other creative minds. One of the connections I have made and really appreciate is with Clo, who is the founder of This Too Shall Grow, a certified digital wellness coach, she helps people build better relationships with their devices. Besides that, she also writes a newsletter and publishes content online. Through her writing, readers learn to foster a more balanced digital life, and designers learn how to create mindful products that protect people’s well-being. Clo is one of the most ambitious people I met online and I am thankful for all the amazing discussions and conversations we had along the way.
Based on this, I am excited to let you know that Clo just published her first science-based workbook and cohort course, which is called Tech Bliss and aims to help you reclaim your time, attention, and well-being from your tech devices. Loads of people have a hard time finding out how to spend their time and attention where they really mean to. If you want to leverage the power of tech and learn to use it in ways that really serve you instead of disrupting your focus and mental health, Tech Bliss is exactly what you are looking for. And it is different to what you probably have experienced before when you were taking a cohort course. Clo is not telling you what to do, she is guiding you through hand-picked science-backed experiments so that you can go through them and then decide what works best for you.
All those experiments are paired with journaling prompts. With the help of those, you will learn to self-reflect and find out what you might benefit from the most. The workbook even includes dedicated spaces for readers in which they can take notes right within the PDF. The whole is built to consume it within a 30-day challenge, which means each experiment is doable in one day. But, you can also go through the workbook on your own timeline if you want to. Learning and sticking to new habits can be hard, the same applies to 30-day challenges. Therefore, Clo decided to double the workbook as a cohort course which lasts 6 weeks. Within the course, you get the chance to tackle one experiment per day (except on weekends). You will also get access to a private async community, so you can exchange tips and feedback on each experiment in a mindful way. Additionally, you also get access to one group call per week.
Tech Bliss is available now. The 121-page science-backed workbook will cost you €10, which is an amazing value. The group experience is currently 10% off. For €44.10 you get the workbook, but also a 6-week group experience, a private async community, and one group call per week. It starts on February 20th and you can register until February 15th. If you want 4 personal 1<>1 coaching calls in addition to that, you can grab the Personal trainer experience which is also 10% off, for €359.10. it also starts on February 20th, and Registration is open until February 15th.
I can not Route for Clo and her workbook enough. It is incredible value for the money, and I am excited for her about the launch. If you want your devices to better serve you, your creativity, your productivity, and your well-being, if you want to make sure you’re in control of your tech and not the other way around, if you are curious about digital well-being and the science behind it, if you struggle with boundaries between your personal and professional life, make sure to check out and grab a copy of Tech Bliss.
In last week‘s issue of Creativerly, I send out a survey regarding the content consumption of Creativerly. I would like to learn more about how readers feel about the current state of the content I create and write within Creativerly. There are a couple of ideas I would like to explore throughout 2023 since evolving and developing this newsletter and the whole publication is one of my ongoing goals. I will still leave the survey open for an additional week. If you have a couple of spare minutes, I would appreciate it if you could go through the survey and leave your feedback, suggestions, or ideas. You can find it down below.
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Apps, Software, Tools
There is an incredible amount of note-taking apps available. Recently, I have the feeling that more and more note-taking apps pack their interfaces with loads of features that might seem useful in the first place, but ultimately just clutter up the interface and make the app harder to use. Nowadays, there are loads of note-taking apps that have a steep learning curve to get started with. Although, when it comes to note-taking and knowledge management you should be able to start right away, develop a system, or if you have one, just implement it.
Notebooks is a lovely note-taking app, focused on writing and organizing. No matter if you want to write books, draft ideas, or just take and write down your notes, thoughts, or anything else, Notebooks is a great app to manage a complex project, create task lists, store files and records, and organise everything in nested structures. With Notebooks you can create beautiful documents. Notebooks is about writing in any form and shape. Folks who are looking for a note-taking app have different workflows in mind. Some want to just have a dedicated place to jot down notes quickly, write memos, or diary entries, while others want to collect information from research on a topic or type the chapters of a novel. Notebooks is the right place for all those kinds of things since it delivers a streamlined experience that allows you to just start using them without the need to watch multiple tutorials or even take a course to understand the basics of it.
Within Notebooks you can style documents to your liking by either using formatted text like themes, paragraph styles, links, tables, attachments, images, and more, or plain text without any format and style, or even markdown to create styles, tables, and headings. With document themes, you are able to give your formatted documents a distinct appearance. Either choose from a set of reinstalled themes or even create your very own. On top of that, you do not need to decide on a final format when you create a document within Notebooks, since you can always convert other formats, including PDF, eBook, or LaTeX. When you are using Notebooks on your iPad and you own an Apple Pencil, you can create handwritten notes, annotate PDF documents, or draw on images. You can even scan your handwritten notes to plan text, which is incredibly powerful.
One of the main goals of Notesbooks is to give users access to the joy of writing and creating content. With Notebooks, you fully own this process, since its delivering the best tools for staying productive and focused. To achieve that, Notebooks offers a distraction-free experience powered by features like fullscreen mode, which helps you focus on your work by hiding everything except the currently edited document. To always keep the focus while writing, Notebooks has a feature called Highlight and Center Current Line, which keeps your focus on the currently edited line. But Notebooks is not only a lovely app for writing and taking notes, but it also offers great features to organise all your documents and records. Once you create more and more documents, it is important to stay on top of all your writing. Organisation and structure become increasingly important. Within Notebooks you can create separate books for your projects and subjects, and even divide your topics into unlimited hierarchies or nested books. With context tags, you can structure your documents in alternative ways, independent of the original storage location. To create references between documents, Notebooks supports bidirectional links, which are automatically managed. Notebooks‘ global search gives you the possibility to find everything you are looking for with just a few keystrokes. To manage all your projects within Notebooks, it seamlessly integrates task management, with features like nested task lists, due dates and alerts, repeating tasks, extracting tasks, and more.
Notebooks syncs your documents across your devices with iCloud, Dropbox, WebDAV, WiFi Sharing, or Notebooks server. All the files you create within Notebooks are regular files in standard formats like text, html, or md, and they are stored on the file system of your device. Notebooks is available for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.
Tot is probably one of the most lightweight text companions that is available for your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch out there. It is a super simple app that lets you collect and edit text with ease.
Tot is an app by The Iconfactory, the company that also developed Twitterific the first Twitter mobile client, which is no longer available because the maniac who is in charge of Twitter recently decided to shut down all third-party clients without further notice. The Iconfactory is known for a bunch of great apps, and Tot is one of them. Once you opened up Tot, you will find a distraction-free interface with a straight focus on your notes. Tot uses a single window that features beautifully designed simple formatting controls. Thanks to those simple controls there is no more hunting for any chunk of text. Using Tot for just a couple of minutes you will clearly experience the „less is more“ approach. Other note-taking apps often focus on packing and implementing as many features as possible, but Tot takes a different approach.
Tot embraces constraints. Most note-taking apps lead to a habit of creating multiple documents, pages, folders, tags, and notes in general which you will probably never ever take a look at. Tot forces you to only take a not when you really need to.
In Tot you can choose between two text-entry modes, either rich text or markdown. Speaking of the constraints earlier, Tot‘s editor lets you only add text, no images, no PDFs, no media, just simple text and the formatting options are purposefully simple. In total, Tot supports seven individual documents. Those are represented by seven coloured dots at the top of the window. This turns Tot into a simple, minimal, and lightweight note companion. With Tot you need to be purposeful about your notes since you will have limited space available. To quickly distinguish your seven documents from each other, they are coloured. On iOS even the keyboards of the different documents are coloured too, which is a beautiful design detail.
There are different use cases for Tot, but one of the first that came to my mind was to use it as an idea scratchpad to quickly capture any project ideas. Since Tot is limited to seven documents, you can limit the ideas you want to keep track of, also to seven. Once you developed on the idea further you can move it to your preferred project managing or note-taking app and therefore delete the document within Tot to free up the space for new ideas. Since Tot is also available on WatchOS, you can see your documents or append text via dictation. Changes made are getting synced via iCloud to all your devices.
There is only thing I do not like about Tot and that is its name. Tot translates to German as „dead“. Knowing this makes its website url a little bit perfidious since it means „dead rocks“. The creators of the app obviously do not speak German since then they would probably have chosen a different name. Personally, since German is my mother tongue, it feels a little bit weird to use an app that translates to „dead“. If you want to give Tot a try, you can download it for free on macOS, the iOS version costs €23.99.
When I started to look into Tana as my PKM tool, I decided to revamp my writing process a little bit. While my use cases for Tana range from daily notes to task and project management, but also databases, I am not using it for long-form writing, since Tana is mainly an outliner app. Before Tana, I used Craft and Obsidian for the mentioned use cases including long-form writing. I liked the idea to have my knowledge base in the same place as my long-form writing. But since now my knowledge sits within Tana, I needed to come up with a new system for my writing. Since I am owning an iPad, most of my writing is happening on that portable device. Therefore, I was especially on the hunt for an app that is optimised for using it on an iPad. On my Mac, I have been a fan of iA Writer for the longest time. It is a lovely writing experience. I was ready to invest €59.99 for the iOS version of it, but after I searched for it on the App Store, there was another markdown-powered writing app that caught my interest within the search results. One of the main reasons was probably the price since it cost €55 less than iA Writer. And that app is called 1Writer.
1Writer is a minimal but still powerful and beautifully designed markdown editor for iOS. It combines all the basic text editing features you would expect with all the advanced features you will ever need. Just after a couple of days, I realised that 1Writer will become my preferred writing app for my iPhone and iPad. But 1Writer is not only limited to just being a writing app, you can also use it for research, revising, and sharing your ideas with maximum efficiency. Just like iA Writer, 1Writer provides you with a beautiful, distraction-free interface, so you can focus straight on your writing. You can decide between creating and editing plain text or markdown files. Since 1Writer has no macOS app, I still use iA Writer on my Mac. I sync my markdown files, and therefore my long-form writings via a folder within my cloud. In 1Writer, I have access to the same folder, so I can start or continue writing on my iPad or iPhone.
There are many lovely features to explore within 1Writer. It offers markdown preview, word count, dark theme, TextExpander support, you can add images, an extra keyboard row, and many more. To sync or import your notes and your writings you can pick and choose existing Dropbox or WebDAV folders or even sync them all. 1Writer allows you to work offline and all your changes will be synced the next time you connect to the internet. Besides Dropbox and WebDAV, 1Writer also supports iCloud Drive. The Share extension or the 1Writer URL scheme, lets you send a text to 1Writer from Safari and other apps.
➢ 2022: The year that changed the way we work – “Remember 2020? So many of us thought that was going to be the big one for the way we work. I thought it would be the year that changes productivity forever. And in many ways it was; it forced us to spring clean our dusty attic of beliefs about what makes people productive. Decades of in-office 9-to-6 culture blown out of the window! It was a year that showed us just how resilient the human spirit is and how robust our ability is to get things done. The big discovery that year was how little productivity could change if we put our minds to it.”
➢ A matter of mental health – “According to a study by the World Health Organization, about one in eight people in the world live with a mental disorder and one in four people could be affected during their life. Among young people, the figures are alarming: 50% of mental disorders start before the age of 14, while suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death between 15 and 19 years old.”
➢ The Daily Habits of Happiness Experts – “If anyone knows the secret to happiness, it’s surely the people who have dedicated their careers to studying it. The first thing they’ll tell you? Being happy all the time isn’t a feasible—or even desirable—goal. “It’s not a yellow smiley face,” says positive psychology expert Stella Grizont, founder and CEO of Woopaah, which focuses on workplace wellbeing. “It’s being true to yourself and all the emotions that come up.” Instead of trying to force that frown upside down, true happiness stems from surrounding yourself with lots of love, being of service, and having a good time, she says.”
➢ Nothing Drains You Like Mixed Emotions – “Odī et amō,” the Roman poet Catullus wrote of his lover Lesbia about 2,000 years ago. “I hate and I love. Why I do this, perhaps you ask. I know not, but I feel it happening and I am tortured.” Maybe you can relate. If you’ve ever had mixed feelings about someone you love, you know the intense discomfort that results. If your feelings were purely positive, of course, the relationship would be bliss. Even purely negative feelings would be better, because the course of action would be clear: Say goodbye. But mixed feelings leave you confused about the right thing to do.”
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The newest Creativerly interview is out now. This time, I got joined by Emmanuel Lefort, founder and CEO of Weavit, who has been working on a PKM app that got shut down back in September 2022. If you want to find out why Emmanuel decided to leave the PKM app of Weavit behind and start a new chapter for Weavit as a company, read about the challenges and struggles of building a startup in a crowded place, how he observes the space of PKM and productivity software, and a lot more, make sure to check out Creativerly's newest interview.
➢ Quick Bits
- Twitter sued over antisemitic posts left online
- Spotify cuts jobs in latest round of tech layoffs
- Bezos and Washington Post show honeymoon is over for tech mogul media owners
- Europe’s homegrown battery cells could end its reliance on China by 2027
- Paris’ vote on banning e-scooters could shape the whole of Europe
- Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI ask court to throw out AI copyright lawsuit
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