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This is the fifth and final article of this series. If you want to catch up, you can read the previous articles here, here, here, and here.

Oh, notes.

How many times have you thought that you would take notes and process them later?

Do you keep lots of lists around the office and house?

Are you someone who emails yourself things to remember and keeps a slew of documents full of ideas?

I used to spend a lot of time organizing files. Not digital, but physical. I was quite the binder girl. I’d have the legit tabs labeled all nicely. All of the documents hole punched. I’d have my table of contents filled out. The cover title nicely designed. I’d always be filing and categorizing and organizing.

The best thing I did was create a digital-only life.

The only reason I still use paper now is to self-coach or journal.

More on that another time.

Today, let’s talk about the most common types of notes and what to do with them if you believe there’s plenty of time and you have it all together.

Types of notes
  • Reminders to self
  • Lists (grocery, shopping, packing, todos)
  • Quotes you like
  • Books to read
  • Podcasts to listen to
  • Bills to pay
  • Class, workshop, courses, in-person event notes
  • Ideas to (potentially) implement
What else?

Here’s what to do with them instead of continuing to feed the endless stream of notes, digital or otherwise:

Time-bound
  • Reminders to self
  • Some lists or list items
  • Bills to pay
For these, you don’t want to keep them in your note-taking device; you want to actually get them done, right? Put them on your calendar for when you’ll complete them. Begin to shift out of thinking in activities to creating actual completed results, instead enter these items that same way in your calendar.

For example, this blog article is not in my calendar as a vague calendar block to “write blog articles” or anything like that. I have it in to write and complete this article, along with the title of the article, and ideas I had for it when I was planning this series last month.

If they’re reminders for during the day at a particular time, set an alarm on your phone with the title of the thing you need to remember. If they’re lists for grocery shopping, add them into the notes/description area of your calendar for when you’re grocery shopping or placing the grocery delivery order.

Website or app specific
  • Books to read
  • Podcasts to listen to
If someone recommends a book or I see a book in a bookstore, I immediately put it into an Amazon wish list, because that’s where I often purchase books. You could also use Goodreads, if that’s more your jam. If you want to try a podcast, open your podcast app on your phone and download an episode or two. The theme with this type of note is to get it into the form you actually can use, where and when you’ll use it in the future, so it’s super easy for the future you. No intermediary steps.
REFERENCE & SOMEDAY MAYBE
  • Quotes you like
  • Class, workshop, courses, in-person event notes
  • Ideas to (potentially) implement

If you’re going to use quotes for a project, put them where the project exists and they’re easily searchable/accessible. The main reason we take notes during live events or other types of courses is to remember and process the information. If you need to take action from what you took notes on, transfer those to your calendar. If you do not need to create any results with your notes, then you can most likely toss them. I know, I was shocked too. I thought I needed to hold on to all of them to process at another time, or at least have as a reference. But the truth is, we don’t ever do that like we think we will. If there is any essential info that you’re going to apply to your life, get it out of note form and place it where you will utilize it in real life.

Finally, the “ideas to (potentially) implement” you will for sure want to get out of your head and onto paper. However, you want to keep them somewhere for someday, maybe. I learned this from David Allen. For me, it’s in ClickUp. For you, it might just be a document where you keep all your dreamy ideas. Review these on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to get them into your life when it makes sense. You’ll also find you can cross some out or delete them once some time has passed.

Whatever you do, don’t use your inbox for notes to yourself. It was not built for that. If you need more clarity on what an inbox is for and how to maintain inbox zero without stressing, grab your copy of Select All: A Guide to Opting Out of Inbox Mayhem below.

P.S. Send me a message if you’ve got some notes you still don’t know how to ditch. I’ll help you figure out a better system.

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