A threshold is a door, a portal through which we change our environments, circumstances, and the world that surrounds us…
Thresholds of Ideas
Interesting ideas and depths of flow often do not form until we reach some threshold of time and attention, often unclear until achieved. It may not be clear when this threshold is reached. It may not be clear there even is a distinct threshold, especially as learning is rarely, if ever, a linear path.
But it’s still there.
Some ideas, unconscious or conscious, need to go through a process over time, through direct focus and indirect consolidation in time away, until they crystalize through pen and paper in some understandable, meaningful form.
Thresholds in Environments
We can say the same about how we organize our environments.
When conditions are optimized to allow play to flow into the work at hand, we begin to react with the environment. Context and project unite.
Similar to the environment of a video game, next steps become obvious as they are encountered. If they are not, thought and strategy may be built from the surrounding information. We can use a task list or not, instead reacting to the world and building useful reminders within the work and context itself.
At this stage, we can stare at paper, notes, code, or whatever the medium and sense the project’s direction. It is in these stages where drifting waters of mind channel into a reactive play fueling the work. Our interaction gradually draws us in by way of both stimulation and security, optimal for the individual.
We find focus.
Thresholds of Tools
We can say the same about our tools.
The availability of some objects may not appear until a threshold of organization is reached for one or several other objects. As a result, actions may become not only more likely, but possible. Examples include:
- When able to reach for a pen, paper, stamp, and envelope with minimal eﬀort, we are much more inclined to write a letter than otherwise.
- Knowledge and learning of some central principle in a craft may only occur when a threshold of details are memorized and therefore directly available to attention.
- The skill of playing a piano piece does not appear until the individual notes and sections have been learned and worked through.
- Certain uses of a program or application do not come to mind as possibilities until reaching a deftness with the program’s associated commands.
DEVONthink and Bringing Websites In-House
Even beyond ourselves, when we can make information more readily available to an application, we can create new possibilities.
For example, DEVONthink allows storage of websites in its database. Here’s an example:
In order to view the information, I’ve selected the entry on the left, and DEVONthink then loads the information on the right much like any browser.
Unfortunately, that means that the information on the website is not available when I am not selecting it.
However, if I convert it to markdown, that information will become accessible and more useful. To make this happen, I:
- Control-click the entry
- Select “Convert > to Markdown“ in the contextual menu:
Here, I’ve displayed the entry with both the markdown code (on the left) and the render (on the right).
If sometime in the future I decide to write about Time Management, DEVONthink has the information available for it’s AI and can suggest it as relevant:
The transition of the website brought the state of organization of the system to a higher level which then allowed me to access the information when relevant.
PS This post is a mashup of Workflow Mastery and Taking Smart Notes with DEVONthink