How many of you have experienced drug induced startup ideas? Come on be truthful. It happens all the time. Some of you with alcohol, some; other things… I had one about a year and half ago.
In May of 2011, while working my day job, keeping up the farm and coaching my son’s soccer team I had been working on a site that brought the experience of a flea market to the internet. I had a lot on my mind and tons to get done. But I always make time to blow off steam and play some soccer. That’s when it happened. I felt tightness in my leg after playing futsal (a form of indoor soccer). Then a few days later, after a practice with the boy’s, I drove them to my mother-in-law’s house and got out of the car. I could hardly stand up without excruciating pain. I had sciatica. For the next several days I couldn’t even lay down. So I didn’t. I walked around pacing and cursing.
Now I was in major pain. It felt like someone was literally sawing my leg off, so I went to see the doctor. He gave me slow release morphine. Unfortunately I still couldn’t lay down to sleep so I decided to get some coding done. In a bit of a haze, I opened my laptop, put it on a chest of drawers that allowed me to stand while typing and got to work on the flea market site. I went into my kanban board and looked for what I should do next. I felt overwhelmed. I was missing work and falling behind, but I had to do something to help distract my mind from the pain.
For years I had been searching for the right tool to keep track of tasks and a tool to keep notes. I’d tried plain old wiki apps with lists, to do list apps, text files, google notepad and tasks, outlook, text files for notes and lists, remember the milk, kanban boards… You get the picture. I t just wasn’t working out. So while I was standing there, my mind somewhat calmed from the morphine, I came up with an Idea. I was going to scratch my own itch and create what I had been searching for but couldn’t find.
I love Markdown. In fact, I’m using it now to write this post. It’s simple yet effective and my hands never need to leave the keyboard, so it’s great for keeping notes. But I had another problem. Every time I needed to record a task, I had to leave my notes and open another app. “No problem” you say, “I do the same thing”. But I didn’t want to leave my notes, wanted the tasks to be linked to my notes and like using kanban. Nothing I could find up to that point could do this. That’s when LeanNotes was born.
I decided to get it done. Now would be the time. I downloaded mongodb and showdown.js and got to work. By the end of the first night I had created the note taking app. It took a few days to get it to the point where I could use it daily, but I was still keeping lists of tasks in each of the notes. I was even keeping a list of features for LeanNotes on a single note with three sections “Doing”, “To Do” and “Icebox”. It was getting hard to handle.
By now the sciatica was starting to subside and I returned to work. I used LeanNotes every day to keep notes, but I was missing things. I never knew what I was supposed to work on. All these lists took more time to manage, and I had too little time to manage them. So I got to work on the task management features. I decided to use the link syntax in Markdown for tasks with a little twist. A task would look something like this:
- [My history using to do lists and the creation of leannotes](t#to do)
This would put a task in the “to do” kanban queue or bucket as I call them in LeanNotes, and have it linked to the note. After saving the note the task would appear the same in the Markdown except a uuid will replace the bucket name. like this:
- [My history using to do lists and the creation of leannotes](t-88289f58-980d-492d-8d2d-1cf3fb86394a)
On the tasks view it looks like this:
So there you have it. A morphine induced startup called LeanNotes is born! Try it out. It may scratch your itch too. If it doesn’t you can always try an antihistamine.