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  • Difficult to process miscellaneous facts

    I'm going through my inbox and have got to the notes from a conference I recently attended. They are full of miscellaneous facts form the talks that I found interesting enough to jot down. The problem is I'm not sure what to do with them. Here are a couple of examples:
    • ITK Kinase inhibitors may help asthma.
    • Assay lengths are limited to an hour because active molecules that take longer than that are of no interest anyway.
    • Come back form lunch at 13:45.

    The third one has become trash but the other two are relevant to my field of work and are the kind of thing that I might like to use in a piece or writing one day. I was wondering if anyone can recommend a good system for keeping things like this. I COULD put it in a folder with a suitable label, but I would likely never look through it. Right now my impulse is to trash the notes but that's only because I can't think of a better alternative.

  • #2
    Things like this I might type into the computer. You could have a file called "facts" and just accumulate a lot of miscellaneous facts like this, (along with attribution detailed enough that you can use it in a publication) and when you want to find them you could use some sort of text search to search for keywords like "asthma" or "assay" to find the facts. You could put up a web page containing a collection of facts like this, and occasionally find your own facts with a Google search. Maybe your workplace has an internal wiki or something that could be an appropriate place.

    If you want to be reminded of the facts periodically, you could put them in a tickle file or similar system.

    You could file them under "materials and ideas for future work" or something, and maybe put a note in your tickle file to review that from time to time.

    You could file them by subject, under "asthma" and "assay" or whatever topics you would be most likely to find them useful in, e.g. if they're related to particular areas of your work that you already have files for.

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    • #3
      Assuming that you've defined all of the work that you will or might commit to doing someday and all you have left are the notes that you want to keep as reference material, file it in a manilla folder under "Medical Conference 2012" (or whatever the name of the conference is).

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by cfoley View Post
        I'm going through my inbox and have got to the notes from a conference I recently attended. They are full of miscellaneous facts form the talks that I found interesting enough to jot down.....I was wondering if anyone can recommend a good system for keeping things like this.
        I would immediately set up a small note for each of those facts in DEVONThink. In addition to the note I'd put the date and conference in there and any other keywords in the note itself I might find useful later. I'd have a folder of these small notes and use the search system within DT to locate them later.

        Evernote might be another option for storage of these misc. facts.

        Either program could be populated by doing a scan and OCR of the notes if you write neatly but if they are small I'd just re-type them.

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        • #5
          For that sort of thing, I use Evernote. Depending on what email and internet client you use, it has really useful plugins. For those random emails, I have 'one click' from my outlook to create an Evernote note, from which I can edit the note subject, put tags on, and decide what notebook to put it in. The same is true when I come across web pages that I want to keep as referable material in the future - I can clip just the link to the site, the article, or the entire page. I'm sure there will be a reasonable amount of material that I won't refer to again, but I just might - and having a tool like this which has plenty of storage and is very searchable (so long as I am thoughtful on my tagging and subject lines at the outset) means it is available if and when I need it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by cfoley View Post
            I'm going through my inbox and have got to the notes from a conference I recently attended. They are full of miscellaneous facts form the talks that I found interesting enough to jot down. The problem is I'm not sure what to do with them. Here are a couple of examples:
            • ITK Kinase inhibitors may help asthma.
            • Assay lengths are limited to an hour because active molecules that take longer than that are of no interest anyway.
            • Come back form lunch at 13:45.
            For these types of facts, I would store them in Evernote (or something similar...wherever you store your reference material). I am a writer (fiction) and also have my own blog (non-fiction) so I have a note for my fiction called "Story Ideas". I also have one called "Research". Additionally, for my blog, I have a note called, "Possible Blog Topics". These work well for me and are great for storing these little tidbits.

            In sum, assuming you have extracted any immediate actions, these are reference items unless you are committed to taking some immediate action on them (ex. Research how ITK Kinase inhibitors may help asthma).

            Hope this helps.

            Comment


            • #7
              I like the tickler idea, but these don't really sound like miscellaneous facts. Otherwise they wouldn't be important to you. They don't really mean anything to me so I wouldn't even bother filing them. But for you there is a higher level meaning to them.

              Are those facts likely to be useful for something you want to accomplish down the road? Is there a particular context where these facts would have more meaning/

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              • #8
                another vote for Evernote (that rhymes!)

                You'd be amazed at how many one-sentence files I have in Evernote. It is, in my opinion, the best place for randomness!

                I tag my files as explicitly as I can. Your tags for a note that says, "ITK Kinase inhibitors may help asthma" might be: ITK, Kinase, inhibitors, asthma" Yes, it's almost as long as the contents but tags let you pull up all of the files with that tag, not all of the files with the word. A search for "Inhibitors" in your notes might pull up a couple of hundred entries, but a tag search will pull up the important ones. I love my tag searches.

                OK, stepping off my soapbox now...

                Dena

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks all for the helpful replies. There are a lot of good points here that I think I will use.

                  Originally posted by cwoodgold
                  If you want to be reminded of the facts periodically, you could put them in a tickle file or similar system.
                  I really like this idea. Once I build up a large enough tatabase, I might try something like the "Tip of the day" feature you used to get on a lot of software. I'll need a good number of facts like this for it not to be too repetitive though.

                  Originally posted by cwoodgold
                  (along with attribution detailed enough that you can use it in a publication)
                  You know, I would never have thought of that but it's so important. Thanks!

                  Originally posted by Oogiem
                  Evernote might be another option for storage of these misc. facts.
                  Excellent! I don't use Evernote for anything else and I think it could be perfect. I could even use the app on my phone to take notes at conferences and it's already in there.

                  Originally posted by mattsykes
                  The same is true when I come across web pages that I want to keep as referable material in the future - I can clip just the link to the site, the article, or the entire page.
                  I like that a lot too. I do something similar to associate web pages and gmail emails to my actions/projects.

                  Originally posted by manuelhe
                  I like the tickler idea, but these don't really sound like miscellaneous facts. Otherwise they wouldn't be important to you. They don't really mean anything to me so I wouldn't even bother filing them. But for you there is a higher level meaning to them.

                  Are those facts likely to be useful for something you want to accomplish down the road? Is there a particular context where these facts would have more meaning/
                  None of these are of use to me right now. However, I may find them useful as interesting facts for work presentations. They may even give me a starting point for looking for background materials fof papers.

                  So, in answer to your question, they are not actionable right now and don't belong to any project in particular. As general reference, if I follow David Allen's advice to the letter, I will over time end up with a LOT of folders with a few facts in. That's going to make things difficult to find in the future. I'm liking everyone's Evernote suggestion as a solution to this.

                  I'd like to know where you are leading me with your questions since they sound like the kind of thing I should be asking myself more often.

                  Originally posted by artsinaction
                  I tag my files as explicitly as I can. Your tags for a note that says, "ITK Kinase inhibitors may help asthma" might be: ITK, Kinase, inhibitors, asthma" Yes, it's almost as long as the contents but tags let you pull up all of the files with that tag, not all of the files with the word. A search for "Inhibitors" in your notes might pull up a couple of hundred entries, but a tag search will pull up the important ones. I love my tag searches.
                  I like that a lot. I bet its usefulness is limited by how diligent you are with tagging. I'll see if I can make it work!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cfoley View Post
                    I'd like to know where you are leading me with your questions since they sound like the kind of thing I should be asking myself more often.
                    You mentioned these facts.
                    ITK Kinase inhibitors may help asthma.
                    Assay lengths are limited to an hour because active molecules that take longer than that are of no interest anyway.

                    These are biological, perhaps pharmacological? Is this your line of work? Are you interested in developing a product? or moving into the field of research?

                    As facts these are runway items but they may point to goals you want to achieve or the kind of life you would like to lead. Is your current job or field of study leading you into the line of work suggested by those facts? That's where I am leading with those questions.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for your input everyone. I have decided to go with the Evernote format. It ties in nicely with another project I'm starting. My Mum always kept a notebook which she called her record of "all thinks important and unimportant" which was a list of dates that things happened on. It was always a useful reference and now I'm starting my own.

                      These facts/quotables will go in their own notes for the day they happened. In this case, I've created a note for the conference.

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