Starting from zero is a complex endeavor, about which a great deal has already been written.

I wish to focus on the personal technology aspect, because it was inadequately explained to me.

Save years by avoiding my mistakes.

From noob to nerd

Chicken and egg

The information economy requires the individual to manage lots of information in order to earn a living. Modern personal information management requires computer skills. Managing one's personal IT infrastructure requires info management capabilities.

Thus we have a chicken and egg problem. Where to start?

Well, the chicken evolved, and so can you.

Defer open source

The most powerful IT toolset is open-source software (OSS). However, it has a significant barrier to entry – expertise. Self-education is the hidden cost of OSS.

Ultimately, Emacs is the tool that allows a non-technical user to bootstrap to control over his OSS IT environment. Within that, Org is the tool that allows him to bootstrap to control of Emacs. Thus one of my goals is to streamline adoption of Org by non-technical users.

Once he's familiar with Emacs and using Cyborganize, the user's ability to consume and manage text and binary data is limited only by the effort he's willing to invest. Until then, however, his info management systems will scale very poorly. Therefore it is important to streamline the bootstrapping process.

One needs a working personal info management system (PIMS) to learn OSS. You don't have that yet. So defer OSS.

Pen to Apple

Presumably you've learned pen and paper in school, so start with Getting Things Done's (GTD) paper filing system. (Why not pencil? Because it must be legible years later.)

That will suffice until you buy a computer, which should run MacOS on Apple hardware. Expand that to an Apple laptop, desktop and smart phone. Used is fine, as long as it can run the latest OS. Check the update schedule to determine when it will become obsolete. Don't upgrade an OS immediately; wait at least 6 months to avoid bugs.

Apple is the best for being idiot proof. And that's a big deal in tech, since everyone's an idiot about something they use… especially noobs.

Buy the overpriced support contracts at first, but not the extended warranty. Instead, be careful with it. "Being careful" means Googling before doing things such as trying to clean the screen. Computers dislike heat, vibration, radiation, and dust.

Buy the backup plan, and schedule regular backups. Test them. Follow the rule of three.

Softly into software

Start using the Apple ecosystem of apps, and/or Google's, according to taste.

The next step is to begin transitioning your PIMS from paper to digital. Evernote is a good bridge, since it emphasizes capture ubiquity and paper compatibility.

Don't invest heavily in populating non-plaintext PIM databases at this stage. That work will be lost with the transition to Emacs org-mode. Evernote is Org compatible, so it's an exception.

However, using a PIM such as OmniFocus for simple task and project management is fine. And obviously use whatever productivity software your workplace adopts.

Graduation day

Congratulations, you've reached the hipster edge of nerd! Now it's time to become totally uncool by learning Emacs.

Prepare yourself by purchasing a Weird Al Yankovich album and building a shrine to Richard Stallman.

You can also make a detour into Windows land, if you need it for a specific purpose. Just don't count on it to work.