[LFR] Letters from a Roaman - Letter XXXII

Happy Tuesday Roamans,

In this penultimate letter of the year, while it’s been a little quieter than usual, I still came across several interesting nuggets which I hope you’ll take some inspiration from as you iterate on your own personal Roam workflows.

I also discuss some ideas around using Roam to make better decisions.

Around the Roaman Empire

A Roam Deep Dive

Ivo Velitchkov has written a 5 part series, deeply diving into Roam. It’s all worth reading but his final instalment describes how he uses it and how he has developed his emergent ontology, RIO (Roam Internal Ontology)

Roam is very flexible. That’s great but it comes with a price. When the graph grows it may become unmanageable. On the other hand, applying a fixed schema would be very restrictive. That’s why, to find the balance, I decided to use an ontology but an emergent one. What I do is look for patterns in the way I use Roam and then decide which of them I want to establish as conventions to follow. I call this emergent ontology RIO. It stands for “Roam Internal Ontology”. Since Roam cannot reuse external ontologies such as schema.org or Dublin core, I can at least maintain an internal one, to get better organization and retrieval.

Daily Notes Template Inspiration

This short twitter thread from Siva showing his daily note template might provide some inspiration for your daily notes template using SmartBlocks to help focus your intentions for the day and make space to reflect.

Digital Garden

Jimmy has created an interesting way to create a digital garden using Logseq as an alternative way to publish his notes from Roam.

Check out his twitter thread for the full details.

Roam JS Collection

I just came across this handy little collection of Roam extensions by Oliver Schmid. One expands and collapses the left sidebar by moving your mouse along the left-hand side for those times when you want to write without distraction. Another adds a button to the right sidebar to quickly clear all the open blocks and pages, and a final Random Page extension which adds a button to the left sidebar to, you guessed it, go to a randomly selected page.

Roam GTD

We’re in the final week of the mini Roam Book Club reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I’ll likely share the results of some of the experiments in the final LFR of the year but I really just wanted an excuse to share Joey Harris’ GTD poem with you all.

Roam Masterclass

RJ Nestor is offering a free live Roam masterclass this Sunday, 19th December at 3:30pm US Eastern to coach 5 Roamans to improve their workflows. If the slots aren’t already gone, you can apply here, or just watch live on YouTube here.

video preview

Thinking Out Loud

We make a lot of decisions quickly and almost without thought, many hundreds, perhaps thousands each day. Some decisions require more thought than others, but generally we don’t get taught how to make good decisions.

They’re generally made via a combination of gut, intuition or learned behaviours and risk aversion as we blunder our way through life.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve made some pretty big decisions with large monetary costs, like buying a house, or a new car, with less thought or deliberation than whether or not to buy a piece of useful software for £10.

There are many techniques and whole books written on the topic of good decision-making but you can boil it down to these key steps.

  1. Define the problem or the decision to be made clearly
  2. Generate some potential solutions
  3. Evaluate the pros and cons and the risks and rewards of each option
  4. Make a selection
  5. Review your decision

It’s all pretty obvious when you see the steps laid out, but how often do you actually follow these steps when you make an important decision?

I have some good news for you, Roam is a great tool for helping you make better decisions. If you spend any amount of time each day in your Roam graphs, it’s an ideal place for you to write and think through more rationally the decisions you make. It’s also possible to go further and create opportunities for you to easily review and reflect on past decisions so that you can learn how to improve and make even better ones in the future.

You can start out by creating a simple decision template like this:

Simple Decision Template

There’s just enough structure in the outline, which if used, on your daily notes page enables you to see in the linked references of the “Choice” page all the decisions you’ve previously made.

You can expand this template in various ways, giving you more structure in listing pros/cons and risks or opportunities for each option you can think of.

It’s important to write this out. It’s a generative process. Once your mind starts thinking, it’ll begin coming up with more solutions and will help you see ways forward. Writing forces you to clarify what you’re thinking, and enables you to see any flaws, inconsistencies, risks or biases laid out in front of you.

Another direction you can go in is that of a Decision Journal, which again you can template to make getting started as easy as possible.

If you want to get fancy, you can create a SmartBlocks workflow to guide you through answering the questions; an algorithms of thought.

On your chosen review date, reflect on the decision you made and ask yourself these questions to give yourself the chance to learn how to improve for the next time you have a decision to make.

Let me know if you found this interesting or helpful and would like me to dive into more details or ways to tackle procrastination over decision-making in future letters.

Until next time,


P.S. A huge thanks, once again, to Pierre who generously supported me last time around. I really appreciate your ongoing support, Pierre. 😍

I also offer a few private 1-1 Roam coaching sessions if you're looking for some help and guidance to optimise your Roam workflows. If you enjoy these letters and would like to help contribute to the running costs or book a coaching call, you can do so via Buy Me a Coffee.

Andy Henson

I write Letters from a Roaman, curating community news and resources primarily around Roam Research, though I also include other information applicable to other tools for thought and the area in general. I also share my thoughts on a wide variety of tools for thought topics.

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