I have written before about not remembering if you don’t write it down. If you need to create a written link to information, you need a system to record the link.
When I was in seventh grade, I had the most terrible American history teacher. Well, he was terrible for a seventh grader, because he made us do the work and prove the work. He taught us like no other teacher. He required us to not only provide answers to questions but also document exactly where we found our answers. For him it wasn’t good enough that we knew the answer, he wanted to know exactly where we could prove our answer.
My teacher introduced me to a system to link content. After every written answer, my American history teacher required us to include; the chapter, page, paragraph, and sentence where we found the answer. For example, my answer from a book I am reading “Crucial Conversations“ about how effectively handling a crucial conversation will improve your career, relationships, and health, I would also have to include:
(ch1, pg. 9, ¶2, s2)
There are other times when documenting where to find information is helpful. When I write a note in a meeting that I need to add to my list of activities, I create a written link to that information.
For example, if I commit to calling the Acme Vendor Company for materials. I would add to my list of activities:
Call Acme Vendor Company (8.17.1)
(8.17.1) tells me my detailed notes are on the eighth month, seventeenth day, and my first note of the day. (all my notes are in one notepad)
If I wrote the note in the electronic note taking program that I use (called Evernote), I would write:
Call Acme Vendor Company (8.17.en)
This note is recorded on the eighth month, seventeenth day, and in an Evernote note.
If I have the information in an email, I would write:
Call Acme Vendor Company (8.17.em)
This note tells me the information is in an email on the eighth month, seventeenth day.
“From now on, I’ll connect the dots my own way.” – Bill Watterson (cartoonist, Calvin and Hobbes)
When I am at a training seminar where I have handouts or a binder of slides, I write most of my notes in my notepad. When I make a note about a slide I will also add the slide number next to my note and maybe even the bullet number on the slide. This way I can quickly go back to the materials for reference later. One of the most influential books I have read in recent times was Love is the killer app by Tim Sanders. In a part of this book Tim suggests creating your own “Cliff” notes on the blank pages of the book while you read. On these blank pages I include the chapter and page number for any note I pull out of the book.
We all write notes or come across information we want to remember later. The trick is to find the information when you need it. A system to link information you find is a practical way to later find the information you are looking for.
How to you remember the original source when you make a written note?