August 16

Note Mining

Imagine what it would be like if every time a surgeon went in to perform an appendectomy, she started from scratch. She just forgot everything she knew about performing surgery and instead picked up a textbook and started reading about the process, how to use the surgical tools, how to make an incision, etc. It would be silly and impossible to do so, right?

Yet when you solve creative problems, you probably often do this exact thing. You have an entire library of experiences at your fingertips, yet how often do you leverage them?

There is something I call the “creative trash heap,” and it’s full of old insights, ideas, and solutions that might have been valuable but just weren’t right for the situation. These discarded ideas fill your notebooks, your files, your hard drive. They are just looking for the right situation to be used. But you will never rediscover them if you don’t routinely make it a practice to review your notes and mine them for gems.

I encourage you to spend some time today going back through some of your old notes and project notebooks to see what hidden gems are in them that you’ve long forgotten about.

You’ve probably already had the brilliant insight you’re looking for. You just weren’t ready for it.


How can you establish a practice of regularly reviewing your old notes and ideas?

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