Raindrop is a perfect companion app for your research, writing and planning. You can save almost anything on the Internet and build your own personal digital library for free. It is a great place to organise your inspirations and new ideas. Combined with a note-taking app like Obsidian, Roam and Logseq, you can easily build a solid second brain.
A while ago, I explained my digital note-taking system. In essence, my second brain consists of two parts – Idea Storage and Idea Factory. Idea Storage is like my personal library where I collect articles, videos, podcasts and documents, filter these items and organise them.
Idea Factory, on the other hand, is where I distill these items by summarising and analysing them and finally create my own ideas and content. Personally, I've been using an app called mymind for my Idea Storage and Roam Research as my Idea Factory. But as many people pointed out, including my girlfriend, it's very expensive; mymind costs $10 a month, and Roam Research costs $15 a month. In total, that's 25 a month, which may not be sustainable.
My favourite cheaper alternatives for Idea Factory are apps like Logseq and Obsidian. But what about Idea Storage?
Read: The Best FREE Note-Taking App? Is Logseq Better than Roam Research?
Well, there are many candidates like Pocket, Instapaper and Walling. But I think Raindrop can be a perfect alternative.
As I mentioned, I see my Idea Storage as my own personal library, but also my anti-library. Anti-library is an idea of Nassim Taleb that you should have a shelf filled with books you haven't read yet because it will keep you intellectually curious. Honestly speaking, I like this idea because it makes me feel less guilty about buying books and never reading them.
The same thing applies to my Idea Storage. I save almost everything that seems even slightly interesting to Raindrop, but I often don't read every one of them.
The saved items will be in the Unsorted folder by default. This is my inbox.
When I want to read something, I just open this folder and check the items from the top. If it's not interesting, I just delete it. If it's interesting, I make highlights. I do this using a tool called Hypothe.is, which is a free highlighter for browser.
The highlights you made will be automatically synced to Readwise, which then will be synced to Logseq, which is my note-taking app where I distill the highlights and create new ideas and content.
After reading it, I move it to an appropriate folder such as Health, Apps and Relationships.
But I don't like spending time on categorising items, so often I just move it to a folder called Mind Library which is where I dump random stuff.
I use Raindrop to write my weekly newsletter too. In case, you haven't subscribed yet, I share the best tools, articles, videos and podcasts I discovered in the week.
When I'm writing my newsletter, I open Raindrop in my browser's sidebar and review what I found. If it's something worth sharing, I include it in my newsletter. With this setup, I managed to reduce the time for crafting my newsletter by almost half!
There are many things I like about Raindrop, but the biggest reason is the integration with Alfred. By using Alfred, you can quickly search for the things you saved in Raindrop.
For example, sometimes you want to share a link to someone quickly. In that case, you can use Alfred and type what you're looking for. Then you can just copy the URL or open it in the browser.
This is also useful when you're making a note. When you want to see some reference, you can just pull it up from Raindrop using Alfred. So in a way, Alfred works kind of like pipeline between my Ideas Storage and Idea Factory.
Finally, I use Raindrop to share information with my friends and partner. For example, I have a list of places I want to go, which is shared with my girlfriend. So, whenever we find a cool place or restaurant, we add it to this list.
This way, we can easily decide what to do for the weekends. This collection sharing feature is something I really like about Raindrop. I wanted to do something like this in other apps like mymind, but it doesn't let you share something. (Well, technically you can, but only for 24 hours, which I thought was not very helpful)
There are lots of great apps similar to Raindrop like Instapaper, Evernote and Pocket. All of them have almost identical features. So, it really comes down to small differences and extra features. For me, I chose Raindrop because it was free and had cool features like collection sharing and permanent copy. So, I think you should do what I did – try each app for one week and see which one fits your workflow the best.