The reasoning in your first sentence is why I prefer common terms to unique ones. They also give you the benefit of re-use, such as other forms of logs.
Originally Posted by Oogiem
With common terms, what one has to remember, instead, are the combinations of tags that are useful in searches. What I've settled on is a set of saved searches for finding common groups of tags, to ensure specificity in retrieval, and a template system to create notes with common groups of tags, to ensure consistency in creation. To some extent, this allows me to get the best of both worlds. I'm looking at some AppleScript to extend it further.
As for not liking tags, I don't know what a better alternative.