Is there an ideal project length?

So, right now I’m taking an online certificate course, Six Sigma Yellow Belt. It’s on a platform that lists several learning modules, and each module has its own list of training videos leading to a couple of quizzes at the end. The videos in each module are short but packed with loads of pertinent info. I jot down everything so that I don’t miss a detail that might show up in those looming quizzes.

Here’s how I’m organizing it. The course name (SSYB) is my category. In my category, each learning module is a project (I’m currently on module 2 as you’ll see). The project title is named for the respective module. In the project note, I inserted new headings titled for each video lesson. That way, the points in that video are bullet-listed under the corresponding heading. (Overall, this means one note per project.)

Basically, the project gets longer as I go through each video in a module, making sure my notes are concise but meticulous.

I have noticed that the longer a project gets, the more the lag/latency in word processing — even without images and graphics. That lag throws me off a little, causing me to become more prone to mistakes even though my typing is fast and accurate.

There are 15 minor headings in the project screenshotted below (though you’ll only see three). That’s a long, tedious project. I have thought about making each lesson a new note in the project, but creating a new heading in an already existing note seems more intuitive, not to mention it’s quicker than stopping to create a new note. (Maybe I should slow myself down and do it this way.)

Thats that. What do you all think? Am I over-engineering this? I welcome your feedback.

As you noticed, when the notes get very long the app inevitably starts to slow down a bit, usually that’s a good indicator to start splitting notes. From what you show the logical division into category/project feels right to me, i.e. the natural step would be to split that long notes into multiple sub notes.

In this case you could for example think about splitting Six Sigma: Team Basics, Roles, and Responsibilities into

Six Sigma: Team Basics
Six Sigma: Roles
Six Sigma: Responsibilities

To faciliate the process, you can simply place the insertion pointer at the position you’d like to split and use Note > Split at Insertion Point.

Of course, it’s in the end a bit of a balancing act. Sometimes if you’re close to the end of the module it might be worth just sticking through with the somewhat slower editing at the end as usually the slow down is only related to editing, and these are the type of notes you usually don’t augment/edit heavily afterwards. That might be different with some other types of notes.

1 Like

What are the limit guidelines? How does it compare to putting the same data into the lowest common denominator, Apple Notes? Does anyone have any information on this?

Honestly, I am a huge note taker and the uncertainties around Agenda’s ability to handle large amount (subjective I know) has prevented me from using more. So any information here is greatly appreciated. If it handles it as well as Apple Notes, that is a huge relief because I have moved all of my notes from Evernote to it when Evernote was sold. Its perforance has been comparable to Evernote so far–and yes, I place a images, videos, documents, presentations and PDFs in it all of the time.

1 Like

There are no hard limits. It will depend on your device, most likely. And, we develop to make it as efficient as possible, of course. Eg. Notes in your project that are offscreen should not be in memory.

The burden on Agenda is a bit more than on other note taking apps, because Agenda has a full time line — it shows multiple notes in a list. Most note taking apps show a single note, which is much simpler.

I use Agenda everyday, all day, and I don’t see any performance issues. If I did, I would likely dive in to figure out why. Other people may use the app differently, and so there may be blindspots. If you find one, report it here and we can take a look.

As a guide, I would say keep your projects under 100 notes, and your notes under 3-4 screens in length. If you do that, it will work well. If you put War and Peace into a single note, there might be issues.

1 Like

As a guide, I would say keep your projects under 100 notes, and your notes under 3-4 screens in length.

I have advising meetings with graduate students, and I keep those notes in a project. Over time, that project is going to grow well beyond 100 notes. Do you have advice for how best to manage that kind of situation? These meetings aren’t tied to a particular project. Creating a separate project for each student seems like a possible organizational headache.

1 Like

In practice, you can probably go above 100 by quite a lot. As I said, there is no hard limit. I was just giving a ball park figure. It is probably in the 100s.

In any case, my advice would be to try to organize into several projects in some way. A single project with hundreds of notes is a bit unwieldy to navigate anyway. If you can find some devision, even if it is just time based (eg pre-2023), it may help.

1 Like

In any case, my advice would be to try to organize into several projects in some way. A single project with hundreds of notes is a bit unwieldy to navigate anyway. If you can find some devision, even if it is just time based (eg pre-2023), it may help.

Exactly, I would consider splitting (only if you really experience slow downs which might not be an issue at all depending on the device) for instance in time frames as @drewmccormack suggests, or maybe even just start with “ongoing” and “past/graduated” students. Especially, because any slow down is most likely the first occur when you’re heavily editing a project, and in this case notes for “past” students are usually not very much edited anymore (so that project can grow without a problem easily).

If you really keep a lot of notes per student you could consider creating one project per student instead, you could then also “archive” those projects for students that have left/graduated. This setup is what I do for Agenda for example, I have a category Agenda > Releases in which I have one project per release (v19, v20 etc). Each time we release a version I archive the project for that version so they nicely line up in the archive but keep the list of “Releases” we work on in the sidebar manageable as the archived previous releases are collapsed in the Archive at the bottom of the category.

Hope that helps!

1 Like

This is very helpful. Thank you both!

1 Like

I had been experimenting with splitting the notes at different headings before I posted this topic, but it became a bit convoluted for me. I kept getting lost in certain details I needed to figure out but couldn’t, so I reverted back to having everything in a single note.

However, I will say that you’ve described a solution for that issue, which I hadn’t really addressed: “how do I label each note?” And it might seem like a minor issue, but it can be an important detail for keenly organized note takers.

So, I already have the note headings, which are the video tittles. Now I just have to figure out what to title the note itself, and like I said, I think you’ve given me a good blueprint for that.

You’ve nailed it here too, and your statement on having a balancing act was uplifting to me. Balance is the key to everything. That has been the story of my life, especially these last few years.

I have had the pleasure of doing painstaking retroactive editing of certain notes from the past, having new information that was pertinent and important. Now, I can make a new note in Agenda and link a previous (Agenda) note to it. And that is genius-level stuff. :nerd_face:

What I’ll probably start doing is use the keyboard shortcuts to make new notes, then duplicate note titles in the same project with a clipboard tool I have in my menu bar. That should balance out the momentum issue.
Thanks a bunch! :sunglasses:

Thanks @drewmccormack, those are great points. I realize there is more I need to consider here, like the fact that my 13-in MBP can only handle so much, as I’ve experienced with other apps. I typically use the 15-in for running larger tasks and the 13-in for just notes and messaging.

Also, my Logitech MX Keys has its own lag, and I hadn’t considered that either before reading through this thread.

Funny comment about War and Peace in a single note. Now that would be quite the battle, lol. :nerd_face:

1 Like

I mean, you’ve said it here yourself. If what you mean by “the lowest common denominator” is, "Apple Notes is the most basic note taking app,” then I would agree with you. (That is both question and statement.)

So, yea, to me Agenda capitalizes on what Notes doesn’t do and knocks it out of the park, far and away. The latency I described wasn’t huge, and I have to also consider that I’m using a bluetooth keyboard between two MacBook Pros, one having smaller RAM than the other. This might add to the latency, but it’s not a serious headache for me. Like @drewmccormack and @mekentosj mentioned, it’s about knowing your device and having a balance.

I did a quick search, and I didn’t find too much in the way of hard-core comparative analysis between Notes and Agenda. The only information I found was people talking about needing more integration between them, which, to me, was a kind of additive comparison. And I’d like to point out to you, another thing from here in the Agenda community, which you commented on:

It’s a great post, and I missed it, frankly. So today was my first time seeing it. In response, my resolve for the Things 3 issue is that I don’t need it, since Agenda already integrates all Reminders lists, not to mention Agenda’s own built-in list.

As far as Notes, it’s a simple share to Agenda (the iOS share menu is pretty straightforward when importing into a preexisting or new note in Agenda). Otherwise, it’s a simple copy/paste function. I think thats as good as it gets (unless the DMA coming to the EU this month has any effect on this issue — sidebar).

Though I’m not the SME here, I think @drewmccormack and @mekentosj gave some great insights. And I will tell you from my experience that as an idealist and perfectionist, I always find myself wanting to create the idea/perfect situation that I can repeat. If a template is in the picture, even more perfect. But it’s a journey, and the road is not perfect. Things change at different stages. That means the methods of our use/traverse of the road cannot be always perfect either. Give yourself patience, room for trial and error. And trust in the cloud. If it is recorded, it can be edited. :nerd_face:

My sister is in grad school, I know how it can be. All the best to you and your students.

1 Like

It even goes a bit further, what we often hear is that it’s a bit of experimenting and finding your way in Agenda, which can feel a bit like a blank canvas of lego blocks, and can be a bit of hurdle to overcome in the beginning.

We don’t enforce a very strict organisation** which has this downside, that it requires some trial and error to find the right way that works for your specific way of thinking, working and type of notes.

The flip side however is, and this is why we went this way, that it allows you to build something that really works for you and also nicely allows it to evolve over time along with how things inevitably evolve for yourself as well. Splitting projects and notes, promoting notes to projects, adding categories etc. are all a natural part of this.

**) if you’re curious, here is our origin story where we found out why when we launched the original beta version of Agenda with a much stricter way of working we found out that didn’t work out at all. :grin:

1 Like