Keeping notes is one thing. Using them, something completely different.
I have no idea how many sentences I’ve written in the twenty years that I have been professionally active. The number of emails I’ve sent. The amount of documents I’ve read.
It has to be an unbelievable amount of knowledge.
And though I managed to take some of it with me, most of the information is gone.
I used to rely on my mailbox and a company dataserver that always had some kind of structure. I was good at retrieving stuff when I needed it (hello, search function!), but leaving an organisation would mean leaving behind everything.
Not that I didn’t try. I’m sure there are hard drives with all of my old emails and work files somewhere in the house. If only I could find them.
It is not about how much information you store, it’s about what you do with it.
In the old days I used Evernote to keep my notes. Even if I’d scribbled down only a couple of things after a meeting, I’d take a picture of the piece of paper and Evernote would turn it into a useable note. The technology was great but I was a poor information user.
What’s the point of having a giant inbox when you never take things out?
When I switched from Evernote to Roam Research as a note-taking app, I finally started doing that. I now have a far better information system set up.
One that actively resurfaces information.
The other day I was asked to write a text on nightlife policy and I found more than 80 hits in my notes on that topic. How’s that for a starting point?
Having a good system in place turns the bottomless pit of information into a fountain of knowledge.