Why Note-Taking is Necessary for Creativity

Aman Manazir

When asked to create something, most people treat the research process the same way.

Basically, once they receive a prompt, they'll allocate a chunk of time and spend a few hours scouring the internet for information. For example, if you wanted to write an essay on the effect of alcohol on sleep, you might spend some time searching the internet for articles concerning this topic. Then, you would consolidate all of that information into a uniform essay.

I like to relate this style of information gathering to "a hunting party." Whenever you need some knowledge, you'll immediately go hunt for it at that time.

However, this style of learning is increasingly becoming less effective for several reasons.

Most people use the internet to hunt for new information.

The Fall of On-Demand Information

Fast-Paced Projects

In the modern era, one of the key aspects of a great worker is their speed of execution. Basically, the faster someone can complete a project, the more valuable they are.

This means that, as soon as you're assigned a project, you don't have the time to slowly research information. The organization is moving so fast that by the time the project starts, it's already too late.

When a project begins, there is only time for execution. Unless you've already done the research beforehand, you're too slow to be useful.

Low-Level Information

The websites that rank high on Google are crafted to be the lowest common denominator of every topic.

They only show up because they are designed to appeal to a wide variety of individuals. Unless you're searching for a very specific item, you'll often receive bland, useless content that is made to fit the average person.

If you use Google to quickly research a topic, you'll usually find information that is made to play the algorithms and generate as much ad revenue as possible.

For example, try searching "how to sleep better." The websites that come up are generic, ad-filled blogs with flashy colors crafted to fit a low attention span.

True Insights Aren’t Searchable

If you're trying to find something truly revolutionary, you can't search for it. The nature of insight is that it is unexpected. To search for something, you have to already be aware of its existence. It will never surprise you.

You don't know what you don't know, so how could you know what to search?

The Fishing Net Model

In the past, information was scarce. You needed to go out of your way to find it, which benefited from the hunting model.

Nowadays information is everywhere. Think about how much content you consume every day. Most people spend hours using technology daily, switching between articles, YouTube videos, and social media.

There are so many new ideas that we already witness by default but cast aside by doing nothing with them. In the present, information is ubiquitous, so it’s best to only save what is meaningful.

In other words, you don't need to hunt for new insights. You just need to capture them as they flow by. This is similar to how a fishing net works; it captures the fish as they swim through.

All you need to do is capture relevant information as it flows by.

This is why it's vital to maintain a capture system where you take notes over the information you find meaningful. Then, when the information becomes relevant, you have it at the ready to execute on.

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