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How much time do you spend on idea generation?

What about reading books, blog posts and articles, listening to podcasts, or watching videos?

If you’re a writer, there’s a good chance your content consumption habits are quite extensive, because you never want to be in that dreaded state of staring back at blank screen, wondering what you should write next.

A lot of people consume. But not many people take notes. Even fewer reference what they’ve learned, and even fewer apply it.

Here’s why you should create a “Learning” folder now.

What Tool Should I Use?

I created my “Learning” folder inside Google Drive.

You can use whatever tool you want, but Drive felt right to me, given that I can create Docs and take notes from any device.

These days, I do most of my reading on my iPad. I still prefer hardcovers or paperbacks, of which I have a few at my current residence, but I left most of my library in Calgary, when I decided to become a digital nomad.

So, I read with my laptop next to me, where I can take notes on what I’m reading.

How Does a “Learning” Folder Benefit Me?

I find that reading gets me into flow. And when I’m in flow, ideas seem to come fast and easy. If I’m not actively capturing these ideas, I could lose them forever.

Not to mention, I love to make notes on what I’m learning, how I might apply it, and even jot down memorable quotes on the content I’m consuming.

I already have pages and pages of notes I can refer to on a variety of topics, some that connect directly to my work and marketing efforts.

And whenever I’m thinking to myself, “where was that quote I jotted down – I sure would like to use that in my article now,” I can easily search it up and find it within Drive. No more flipping through multiple books, trying to figure out where that quote was.

So, your Learning folder can help you:

  • Make a record of what you’re learning and applying
  • Jot down noteworthy quotes for later use
  • Generate ideas for your next article
  • Turn your notes into book/resource reviews

Wouldn’t Note taking Slow Down Content Consumption?

There are gurus out there who in effect are saying “the more books you read, the better.”

But why is that?

Reading faster is mostly pointless if you don’t retain or use any of what you’re learning, isn’t it?

What’s the point in reading more books or consuming more content if you aren’t learning anything? What’s the point in learning anything if you aren’t applying it? What’s the point in applying it if you aren’t tracking the results?

The only way to understand the value of something is to try it for yourself and see what happens, isn’t it? And if you don’t have the right structures for that, shouldn’t that be your priority?

You can read more books, or you can become a master at learning and applying what you’re studying. There’s no doubt in my mind which is bound to have a more lasting impact.

Note taking isn’t easy, and it isn’t meant to be. But it causes you to think more about what you’re learning, which in turn helps with your learning and memory.

Final Thoughts

Ideas are everywhere. We just need to take hold of them.

Staring at a blank screen is a bad use of time, and that situation can easily be avoided if you have the right structures in place.

Setting up a Learning folder is a great way to document your learning journey, which can come in handy in a variety of ways. It’s in service of your future self.

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Hold Your Horses, Cow-Person!

From: David Andrew Wiebe
To: You!

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