Just like many people I have gone through tons of productivity apps to create the perfect workflow. Things, Todoist, Evernote, Notion. I have used all of them, and on their own, these are all great apps. However, one thing I always missed was adding tasks while making notes, without the need to go to a different app. For some time I am now using Roam Research, and this is the first app that allows me to make notes and add todos in a single workflow.
What is Roam? There has been a lot of hype recently around Roam Research. Basically, it is a note-taking application that provides backlinks. So if you refer to specific information, that information will automatically link back. Sounds complicated? Well with Roam you can do very complicated things. But at the same time, you can start very simple. In this article, I will explain the integration of note-taking and task management at the basic level to share the idea. Your implementation can be as simple or complex as you like.
Roam is very different than your regular note-taking or todo app. With Roam, you start every day with a page for that date. That page can be blank. Or it has information that references to that specific date. So if you made a note or added a todo that mentions the date of today, you will see it on that page.
When you add something between square brackets in Roam, you refer to a page or create a page. And it automatically creates a link. So on the page above when I click on Weekly team call, I get the page below
Now when I am in my weekly team call, I can make notes on that call. And when I need to follow up on things, I can add a todo on that page. This todo I will find back on a todo page. But when I specify a date, it will come up on the daily note of that specific day. So everything links forward and back. Except dates you can also add other information, like tags. If you follow a specific system like GTD, you could add #next or #waiting to the line, and the todo will show up on the page called next or waiting.
Contextual task management. I do use dates for tasks, so it shows up in my daily notes. But I also like to do things more contextual. When a task has no specific date it must be done, I often ask the context. This could be a meeting where I want to bring this up (like the example above) but contextual could also be a person. If I have subjects or tasks I need to discuss with Peter, I can simply add [[Peter]] and get something like this:
On this page, it shows every item where I have mentioned Peter. And I can add relevant info (like his birthday) to that page, so it comes up when talking to Peter. And of course, the context can also be a project:
There is no limit to the number of pages. Or the number of references. So a line can refer to a person and a date. Since everything is linked automatically, it's very easy to go back and forward on your information. And it is simple to add information or tasks in any place, so you never forget.
The power or Roam is that you can start very simple, simply adding notes and tasks on your daily page. And then grow from there. Your task management system can evaluate without the need to rebuild or move what you already have. And over time you can create a system that is perfect for your workflow. What I have shown is only a very small part of the capabilities of Roam. If you search for #roamcult on Twitter you will find a complete community of people doing the most advanced things with Roam. Or build add-ons or CSS files to make it look more beautiful. Roam is in its early days. But for me already a super useful system, and I can't wait to see how it evolves.