For years I clipped notes from things I was reading & consuming and put them into a notes inbox to process.
I was under the impression like many people that notes were some static thing that were meant to be stored away for safekeeping in case I might need them sometime. I was optimising the process of note-taking for storage.
When it came to my notes inbox it was all about processing. Getting as many notes processed and into categories and stored away as possible. But I was missing out on something more important when it came to notes (& something far more joyful than processing) - not-making as a process for thought.
Here's what happened when I stopped optimising note-making for storage and started optimising it for thinking.
From Notes Inbox to Writing Inbox. The way you name things creates a signal in your brain for what action you should be taking. I created the signal that when I jumped into my writing inbox I was writing (in other words thinking).
No Inbox Zero. When you optimise for thinking you are less worried about getting to the bottom of your inbox or how many notes you can process and more concerned with the quality of your thoughts.
The outcome takes care of itself. My ultimate outcome is to build a library of knowledge that supports and fuels my writing. I never worry about the outcome, because the process is optimised correctly. Spending time thinking daily produces the outcome I ultimately want.
Just like most people hate processing their email inbox, if you've fallen into the habit of treating your notes as storage - try optimising for a different outcome and see if you can put the joy back into making notes.
Posted as a Daily Essay on 2nd May 2022 in Knowledge Management