4 Reasons To Take More Notes & 3 Ways To Make The Most Of Them

Alignment XVI

There are so many reasons to write! You don’t have to write professionally to experience the many benefits writing can offer you. Remember, while few people write professionally, everyone writes, most often to help them do their work. While you may not consider yourself a writer, you already write. So write more! Even if it’s just a little you’ll find it will help a lot.

Here are four reasons to write.

1          Retention

Writing will help you remember things. Most people can only hold seven things in their minds at once. Many times, if you’re full up, new ideas won’t come, until you make space for them. Other times, when new information comes in, old information is lost. Either way, the solution is to write it down – and there are additional benefits to making notes. You’re 73% more likely to remember and act on something if you write it down. (If you type your notes, this number drops to 39%, which is still much better.) Part of this stickiness comes from finding the words that work best for you, so use the language that you’re most comfortable with and that means the most to you. You probably have a to-do list professionally, so why wouldn’t you use one to help you excel in your creative life too? And there are times when everyone needs a checklist. (Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto shows how doctors used checklists to reduce hospital deaths and complications by more than 33%.)

2          Clarity

Writing helps you see more and see more clearly. Like any creative discipline, writing encourages closer observation. You note more things – more information. Plus you’ll find patterns in the things you note – information about information. You’ll understand your experiences better and you’ll find more ideas. Unlike photography, which encourages observation of things you can see, writing can also help you observe things you can’t see like your thoughts and emotions, interactions within relationships, and processes unfolding in time. When you find the right words to describe something you understand it better.

3          Productivity

Once you see what you’ve written new ideas will come to you. You can accelerate this process by playing word games. Alex Osborne’s acronym SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put To Other Uses, Expand, Reverse) is a mnemonic device for a series of mental operations you can use, each of which is capable of leading to countless new ideas.

4          Organization

Organizing your writing helps you organize your thinking. Often the process of taking notes isn’t linear, you simply let it all out. When you revisit and reorganize your notes you make even more sense out of your observations. Lists help you identify steps in a process, set priorities, and identify more important items. Remember, you can also use size, color, or graphic symbols like underlines and stars to make some words stand out more than others.

It’s important to file your notes in an easily retrievable organized system that you trust, otherwise your mind will continue trying to remember everything, which no one can do, not even the gifted who have a photographic memory.

Audio

What about taking notes with audio? Many apps (like Notes) will turn what you say into text. This can be a fast way to take notes, especially when you’re multitasking.

Audio files that aren’t turned into text take more time to review as they’re played back, as much or more time than it took to make them, so they’re not the most efficient way to retrieve. However, if you are having a conversation with someone and you don’t want to interrupt the flow audio is very useful. Nothing records intonation and inflection as audio does. And there are occasions where you want to note the particular sound of something, which words can’t duplicate.

Take Notes With Images

Some things are better noted visually rather than verbally. If you can see what you want to make a record of then a photograph can very efficiently make a note, often one full of detail that would take more time than necessary to record. If you need to make a visual note and you can’t photograph it, make a doodle instead. Diagrams can be particularly useful for recording processes (vectors, paths, timelines, etc) and relationships (maps, graphs, Venn diagrams, etc).

Go Multi-Media

You can combine text and audio and images. Together they’re even richer and more powerful than they are alone.

Avoid Perfection

Perfect takes time, so for this purpose, it isn’t. Not only is it too much pressure, in the wrong way at the wrong time, it’s a distraction. So satisfice. And above all, enjoy the process. Think of your notes as a place to record and explore your observations – not the way you’ll present them to others. With this realization, you’ll be freer about what you record and how you record it and so you’ll do it more often. And that’s the point.

Make notes, lots of notes, and keep doing it. Developing this habit will help you see more, think more, feel more, do more. You’ll get more out of life.

(Want more on this subject? I recommend David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.)

Read more in my Creativity Resources.
Learn more in my Creativity Workshops.

I Joined The Climate Reality Leadership Corps

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This weekend I joined the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.
This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and the Atlanta conference was the largest event and particularly intense. It powerfully aligned climate change with the civil rights movement to discuss climate justice.
You can get a glimpse of two of the more unique presentations.
An interfaith meeting was held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Comedian Pete Davidson gave Al Gore some tips on how to speak.
 

Friends Of The Earth

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Support Friends Of The Earth.
“Friends of the Earth strives for a more healthy and just world. We understand that the challenges facing our planet call for more than half measures, so we push for the reforms that are needed, not merely the ones that are politically easy. Sometimes, this involves speaking uncomfortable truths to power and demanding more than people think is possible. It’s hard work. But the pressures facing our planet and its people are too important for us to compromise.
We are members of Friends of the Earth International, a global network representing more than two million activists in 74 different countries. In the United States, we advocate in the halls of Congress, in state capitals, and with community groups around the country. With offices in Washington, D.C., and Berkeley, CA, and members in all 50 states, we urge policymakers to defend the environment and work towards a healthy environment for all people.”

Audubon

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“For more than a century, Audubon has built a legacy of conservation success by mobilizing the strength of its network of members, Chapters, Audubon Centers, state offices and dedicated professional staff to connect people with nature and the power to protect it.”
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Audubon’s Mission:
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To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. For more than a century, Audubon has built a legacy of conservation success by mobilizing the strength of its network of members, Chapters, Audubon Centers, state offices and dedicated professional staff to connect people with nature and the power to protect it. A powerful combination of science, education and policy expertise combine in efforts ranging from protection and restoration of local habitats to the implementation of policies that safeguard birds, other wildlife and the resources that sustain us all–in the U.S. and Across the Americas.
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Successes include:
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Protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other fragile habitats; The ongoing recovery of the imperiled California condor and brown pelican; Adoption of innovative policies that balance habitat protection with green energy development on millions of acres; Continuing restoration of the Everglades and Long Island Sound.
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How we do it:
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Nearly 500 local Chapters nationwide engage members in grassroots conservation action; Audubon environmental policy, education and science experts guide lawmakers, agencies, and our grassroots in shaping effective conservation plans, actions and the policies to support them; More than 2,500 Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas identify, prioritize and protect vital bird habitat from coast to coast–in partnership with BirdLife International, our IBA conservation efforts support species and their habitats across the Western Hemisphere; “Citizen Scientists” collect vital data, through Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count, the new Coastal Bird Survey, and other initiatives, generating groundbreaking analyses and guiding scientists and policy makers in addressing the needs of birds and other wildlife; Special ecosystem-wide conservation initiatives focus on protection and restoration of the nation’s most special places from Alaska’s Tongass to Sagebrush country and the Louisiana Coast; Audubon Centers and sanctuaries are hubs of conservation exploration, research, and action, allowing millions to discover and defend the natural world; Educational programs and materials combine with Audubon, the nation’s most acclaimed conservation magazine to introduce schoolchildren, families and nature-lovers of all ages to the wonders of nature and the power of conservation at home and around the world.”
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Set Your Mission, Goals, Projects, Actions


I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I make those kinds of commitments at any time of year, whenever it becomes clear they’re necessary. But I do make plans at the beginning of every year. I review my mission, goals, projects, and actions lists. Doing this helps me clarify where I want to go, make sure I’m on the path to getting there, outline the steps necessary to get there, and set realistic timelines.
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