Today I recycled about 3kg of paper. These were mainly notes from my recent Masters degree which I clung on to for a while thinking I might need them, or I’ll re-read them or keeping them for posterity. If I’m honest I’m never going to do any of those things. Most of the information in them is hopefully already in me. Before completely getting rid of it I did flick through and pull out some vital information. I have since learnt about a great way to take notes and sythensise all the information we can get thrown at us.
This article on Medium discusses:
Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay.
The best thing about this is that you take away the most important information to you. And in a format that is useful, useable and actionable at a later date. As the article explains:
It’s not note taking: […] It’s an act of interpretation, prioritisation and decision-making.
Detail is a trap: Precisely because we so often, ostensibly, capture everything, we avoid the hard work of deciding what few things count. So much of excellence is, of course, the art of elimination. And the 30 second review stops you using quantity as an excuse.
Recently I’ve been trying to take the best parts of the things I consume. When reading book I will highlight sections to incorporate later or after listening to a podcast I’ll make a note of the bits that ping out.
So much of life we learn from other people but we often forget to interpret that information into a format that is useful for ourselves. How can someone know what’s useful to you? Or to the person next to you? When we interpret it, that information becomes part of who we are, part of our intuition and we become our own teachers.