Taking Notes.

Published by Douglas Slingerland on

Taking notes, in my opinion, is the corner-stone between success and failure.


A process can not evolve if you do not know what has changed.

If the only notes that were kept are in your head.

With mental notes, they’re great for a day, but you’ll find that something important will arise and completely erase all the progress you had made.   With adequate notes, you can always pick up right where you left off.

Identifying a great idea, heck, even just an idea and differentiating it from a thought is a subtle skill that will take you far.

What’s the difference?  An idea must be written down.  When read later, it will take you somewhere.  It might incite a series of thoughts or actions that will help you push the ball a little further, day after day.  Communicating an idea to a team-member, or even to yourself, will help incite more progress.    An idea may come in the derivative of “I should plant tulips”  Which can ultimately be chalked up to an actionary ” Buy Tulips.

A thought will have no direct bearing on your progress.  Thoughts can float away seamlessly.   A thought may be something like “That tulip is beautiful.”

There’s a very subtle difference between the two and often one leads to the other.

Being able to take notes on your ideas and incorporating the thoughts in a meaningful manner is a skill well-learned.    Let’s take the Tulip example one step forward.  It was first the thought:  “Tulips are beautiful.”  This lead to the idea ” I should buy Tulips”  and you can record it in your notebook as such.

“Buy Tulips.   Tulips may help improve the environment and improve the flow of creativity.”

Now that the idea and thought are safely recorded, you can forget it about.    This is where the next critical part of note taking comes in.  Note-reading.

It’s important to have one database or repository for your notes.  Returning day in and day out to both harverst old ideas and return fresh content.   You will be able to store resources you learn along your journey, maybe where the cheapest Tulips are, the best time to plant tulips.

When diving into new topics, you can brainstorm in your notebook and create a comprehensive resource for yourself (or others) so you won’t need to revisit it.

Where can I buy tulips?

When should I plant tulips?

Which tulips are hardiest?

By taking the time to research the items later, you can leave the answer directly in your notes, with a link to the reference websites for more details.   This guarantees at a later date, after the information has been long purged from your brain, you can quickly digest the information and in a matter of moments be thrust back to the height of all the progress you’ve previously made without having to do the hours of research again.

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