Aug 302011
 

As we get older, we forget some simple tricks that work astonishingly well.

All my readers are familiar with my belief in the magic of pale ink. I believe that anything worth reading, anything worth remembering, anything worth doing, is worth jotting down. There is magic in making the notes.

Back in grade school, we were asked to read books and then produce book reports to summarize what we read and learned. The small effort of summarizing did wonders on our memory. Many of us could remember these first books years later.

Today, I find that when I read an interesting article, essay, or book, it is well worth jotting just a few paragraphs down in my daily journal or in an email to myself. Even jotting just a few lines helps a lot. Pale ink is magical for learning and retention. I rarely go back and look at my notes, but I find that I can remember an article far more vividly if I did take the notes than if I just read it and moved on.

Try this experiment for one month. Buy a small journal and jot down what you learned from each and every news story and book you read during those four weeks. If you are a technology lover, check out http://www.evernote.com, which basically offers unlimited notes space and is accessible from PC, Mac, or smartphone (and is free for anyone that uses it for text notes most of the time because they only charge the people that take a lot of pictures use a lot of bandwidth). I believe you will have a small revelation as to the wisdom of book reports. Pale ink is the key that unlocks a better memory.

If its worth reading, its worth remembering. Our seemingly aging memory is not as much aging, as it is overwhelmed by distractions. Pale ink helps turn the tide. A great memory leads to better ideas and a better, more optimistic life.

I.M. Optimism Man

Apr 012011
 

Think on paper — this concept is near religion with me.  I have found that any time I commit anything to paper (or a written file on my PC, smartphone, or tablet), I produce better stuff, clearer thinking, crisper plans.

In my productivity jedi “tools” arsenal, one of my very favorite lightsabres is Mind Meister (http://www.mindmeister.com).

Mind Meister is a mind map, which is new-fangled-speak for outlining circa 2011. Outlines are fantastic for developing a concept from a few key ideas to any finished IP (intellectual property) product, no matter if it is a white paper, thoughtful letter, powerpoint slideshow, business plan, or software specification.

The world seems to have gotten away from outlining which I believe is a mistake — outlining a project is an easy way to plan — every good carpenter measures twice before pulling out a saw… plan before diving in for better results.

What makes Mind Meister really shine in my eyes is that your mind maps are available on any networked PC or Mac, on your iPhone, or iPad. Without a doubt, the PC / Mac full screen is best, but once I have an outline in development, it is easy enough to add and edit using the iPad or even on the small screen iPhone. It is built from the ground up to collaborate — so any number of people can all add and edit a mind map together — it works very well. Mind Meister also offers methods to zap ideas directly to your account via email or micro-widget — so flashes of brilliance are not lost while ordering margaritas at your favorite Mexican cantina.

Lastly, Mind Meister offers enough export and import options to make me confident that I can save off my data in case the MM guys implode or get bought out in the future.  I’m a believer in always being prepared for Murphy’s Law.

I recommend trying Mind Meister and see if it fits your world.  The best time to try it is when you are ready to produce some IP — like the next time you need to write a paper or create a presentation for work.  Having a real project really helps a person explore the potential of any technology. They do offer a free trial. I’ve used it for almost two years and am quite happy — 8.5 out of 10 stars in my own internal rating system — I only wish they would offer an alternate “traditional outline” view for the times you would prefer to see old-style outlining instead of new-style circular mind mapping.

I.M. Optimism Man