Why is organizing notes always a struggle?
Notion Creators Weekly #28
Welcome to Issue #28 of Notion Creators Weekly, where I share ~ 1 Big Idea & 3 Resources to help you work with more focus and intention. And thank you all for bringing us past 2,100 subscribers!
“Our notebook serves as a mental sanctuary where we are free to think, reflect, process, and focus.” – Austin Kleon, from Show Your Work!
So, does this sound like your notebook? What about your notes app?
As much as we love the idea of having a neat, organized, detailed notebook (physical or digital), many of us end up with notes scattered across pages, notebooks, apps, and websites, with no clear strategy for organizing them.
Why is this such a common problem?
“Research from Microsoft shows that the average US employee spends 76 hours per year looking for misplaced notes, items, or files.” – Tiago Forte, from Building a Second Brain
We don’t exactly get trained on note-taking, at least not in a way that’s optimized for business or knowledge management. The notes we take in school are all but useless in the professional world.
Without training or intentionality around how we organize notes, we end up defaulting to how apps or notebooks are modeled, which inevitably have their limitations.
The ‘Intermediate Packet’ Model
In Tiago Forte’s book Building a Second Brain, he introduces Intermediate Packets as “building blocks that make up your work.”
You may have come across this advice with task management. Have an important task that you keep putting off? It’s likely too big to complete, and needs to be broken into smaller, actionable steps.
The same thing goes for notes. We often create and organize notes as singular items in a list. But once we organize notes by notebook, tag, or project, notes can be used, connected, and revisited in more creative ways.
How to fix your notes
There are a few easy changes that can go a long way in making sure your notes are organized, but more importantly, accessible for future use.
1. Store your notes in one place.
Whether it’s Notion, Apple Notes, or a physical notebook, the important thing is sticking with one place for all your notes. This prevents the problem of having to remember where you wrote something, which as we mentioned above, can be hugely time-consuming.
2. Use a tagging or a notebook system.
Now that you have notes in one place, the next step is defining tags or notebooks to make your notes more easily searchable. I dive into this in this video, but digital notes have the added advantage of having multiple tags, a natural scenario if you’re doing research.
3. Provide enough context for your future self or team.
Ever go back through your notes and have no idea what you meant? Many of our notes may seem obvious at the time, but lack clarity or context. When capturing notes, read them as if you have zero context on the topic. You’ll likely find the need to add a little more detail.
4. Revisit your notes regularly.
We can spend lots of time writing things down, only to never revisit them. Reviewing notes weekly allows you to add more detail, assign tags or notebooks, and our last point…
5. Don’t be afraid to archive.
Best part about archiving? You’re not actually deleting anything. In your review, archive notes that won’t be useful for future reference.
“By recording our lives, we’re simultaneously creating a rich archive of our choices and our actions for future reference. We can study our mistakes and learn from them. It’s equally instructive to note our successes, our breakthroughs.” Ryder Carroll, from The Bullet Journal Method
🗞️ Notion News
There are now 50 Certified Consultants!
As one of 14 consultants in the U.S., this still feels like a tiny number compared to the growing number of companies, teams and creators using Notion! If you’re a Notion creator or love working in digital operations, you can learn more about the program here.
☕️ Great Reads
Augmenting Human Intellect, No Code Required
By Megan Finnerty | Sequoia Capital
“Within a decade, every software company could be considered a [Notion] competitor, because Notion will eventually be able to make any kind of tool, or will be able to integrate with countless pieces of software.” – Ivan Zhao
This is a fantastic read if you’re curious about the origins of Notion, and Ivan Zhao’s plans for the future of productivity in the workplace. Read the Article
🧑🏫 From The Community
The Perspectives Method
I loved this video from Josh Redd on his Perspectives method of setting up workspaces. It also highlights just how differently workspaces can look and function. Plus, it’s a super detailed walkthrough, also impressive for his first YouTube Video!
🎥 Video Tutorial
Notion101: Organize Your Notes
In this video, we look at a simple/effective way of organizing notes, using only two databases. There’s also a free template to get you started!
👋🏼 Live Sessions
How to Organize Notes in Notion | October 19th
We’re back with our next live session on, you guessed it, notes! We’re diving into why it’s hard to keep notes organized, how notes fit into other systems, and the top 3 strategies to get more out of your notes. RSVP Here
🙌🏼 That’s it for this week!
I’d love to hear what you think. What content resonates? What do you want to see more or less of? Just hit reply to let me know!
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Until next time,