When sorting through piles of paper or cluttered notice boards, people often ask me what to do with random notes they come across that contain information they want to keep.
Random notes have become much more prolific since sticky notes were invented and sold in a tempting range of colours and sizes. You can now quickly write a note and stick it wherever you want – on the wall, on your desk, on your computer, in a book, on your cat.
These types of notes do have their uses. If you’re forgetful, a sticky note on your front door can remind you as you’re leaving to take something with you, for example. They can also be helpful for shuffling the steps of a project to put them in order.
However, jotting down useful information on scraps of paper all the time can create a mess of scribbled notes around your home that are a form of clutter. You can end up keeping them for years, not knowing what to do with them because they don’t belong anywhere.
So what can you do?
Some people hit upon the idea of transferring all the information from their notes into a notebook, so that at least the information will be all in one place. That can help. But the problem with notebooks is that they’re not easily searchable. The system will work fine for whatever you write on the first few pages, but after that you’ll need a photographic memory to remember where you put it.
There are many digital apps you can use instead. There’s Microsoft OneNote, Evernote and dozens of other cloud-based options. If it’s important to you to have access to your notes across multiple devices, these can work very well for you. Just be sure to choose a program that offers password protection to secure your data.
However, there’s a much simpler solution that requires no additional software or learning curve at all. Just use whatever word processing software you normally use and create a folder titled something like Interesting Stuff. Then create files within it for all the various topics that you want, such as:
- Books To Read – for books you may be interested to read
- Movies To Watch – for movies you may want to watch
- Places To Visit – for information about places you want to visit
You can cut and paste relevant info to these documents and add hyperlinks to websites that provide more information. For some topics, it works best to organize the information in alphabetical order within the document. For other topics, date order works better so that you see the most up to date details first. Or you can just enter details randomly and do keyword searches for whatever you’re looking for.
It’s also a good idea to create a How To Do Stuff folder, to remind you how to do things, such as software tricks and tips or the best way to mothproof your wardrobe.
This is not an excuse, though, to trawl the internet to amass ever-increasing data about every topic on earth. It’s simply intended as a filing system for useful information you already have and bits you may come across in future so that you can find it when you need it.
It is also not the same as a To Do list system, which requires a very different approach. If you need help with that, it’s included in my Zero Procrastination online course.
Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2021
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