People sometimes ask me, how can it be that you always have a relevant article to share? I might read more than the average engineer, but I don't feel like I spend an extreme amount of time reading. I try to make smart use of my time. And to do that I have a system. It may not be the best, and there is plenty of room for improvement. But it works for me.
In this blog post, we will explore the assembly line of my idea factory, and how I go from reading to remembering, and in some cases writing about it.
The first step of the assembly line is input. My favorite way to gather asynchronous information is to subscribe to newsletters. Not those spammy newsletters of webshops you once bought something. But newsletters by creators whose content I love.
Some of my favorite newsletters are:
I never read newsletters when they come in. I usually scan the topics and add the linked articles in Pocket. Bonus points for the Software Lead weekly, it has timesaving links to save articles directly from my mail client to Pocket!
My second favorite way to gather ideas is to follow inspiring people on social media. My primary source is Twitter and Linkedin. But I do feel fewer tech folks are on Twitter now Elon Musk has taken over.
Do you have any newsletters I missed? Let me know in the comments below. I'm always interested in new insightful newsletters.
My idea-keeping system is inspired by building a second brain. I can wholeheartedly recommend everyone to read the ebook (before you go on the expensive course) if note-taking systems and having easy access to information is your jam.
To keep my assembly line asynchronous, I save all interesting articles, tweets, and videos to Pocket. When I have spare 5 to 10 minutes (you have more than you think). I try to read one or two articles when I can.
I have a Zapier flow configured so that whenever I favorite an article, it gets sent to a folder in Notion called "The waiting room". Waiting for me to process it further. This is where a part of building your second brain called "think like a curator" comes into play. If I find something interesting enough to save in Notion, I will write a short summary of the article. And add some notes of my own. Why is this specific article interesting? Where can I already apply some of the learnings? etc.
I use the PARA method for organizing the notes. It stands for Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archive.
Idea to blogpost
The place where the magic happens as a writer is when I combine existing ideas. There is no need to have every single thought from scratch. Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon is one of my favorite books for new content creators that explains that all creative work is iterative, and creators are a sum of all their heroes and inspirations.
Steal like an artist, a must-read for any beginning creative
Some examples of combining ideas in my own writing are:
Combining the philosophy of an old football trainer with engineering.
I don't have a silver bullet for combining ideas. Whenever I write a quick summary of an interesting post, in some cases I get a hunch. "This would go well with X or Y". And in many cases, I don't. But that is the beauty of having a system. If in the future another idea pops up that combines with this one, I know I have it.
List of tools
In this blog post, I shared all the tools I use. To have them all in one handy place:
Pocket (Read later app)
Notion (Where my notes live)
Zapier (Connecting Pocket and Notion)
Building a second brain (Great ebook/course by Thiago Forte)
The PARA Method (A system for organizing digital information)
Before you go
I hope this blog post has inspired you to start your own system of reading and remembering ideas. And it would be even more amazing if some of you who read this start creating content of your own. If you did any of these two points let me know, and I'm more than happy to read/watch your content and provide feedback.
If you want to stay up to date with my creative outlet, subscribe to my newsletter. And get my thoughts straight in your mailbox.
Latest comments (2)
Absolutely loved this. I myself have been using Notion & a chrome plugin to bookmark articles. Although I find it easy to use a personal WhatsApp group for to read articles.
Glad you liked it Varun! I like the personal whatsapp group as well! Nice idea.