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How To Organize Notes

We receive information from many, many sources -books, articles, podcasts, newsletters, social media, mainstream media, and IRL (in real life), of course. How do you take that, retain it, and use it?

Not always, but hopefully frequently enough, we learn something interesting, insightful, helpful, or all of the above. But then what? What do you do when you finish a book, good enough for notes in the margin?

A while back while searching for something, I came across a notebook from years ago. I glanced through and was taken back by what I had written. Mainly, the book was filled with to-do lists, but every few pages I wrote a tip, quote, or some handy piece of advice. There were some great nuggets in there, that with the last page of that book, were gone, pretty much forever. Out of sight, out of mind. For curiosity, (and because distraction is so much fun), I looked at the next notebook discovering similarly, a new year’s worth of tips, quotes, and handy advice. Each year, as I am learning and taking notes, the notebooks get filled, then everything is closed and stored away.  

Always challenged by disorganized information, I sought a solution.

I opened a few Word documents and gave them titles like, Tips, Quotes, Advice, and my favourite, the Grand To Do list. For years I have been adding to each document. Once a month I read through these pages. These pages are living, constantly getting edited and updated. Interestingly, the documents aren’t long, a few pages each.

Remember, “information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.” William Pollard

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