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When Post-Its Go Bad

I have a post-it note on my desk that says RADIANT GENIUS. All-caps, no explanation. Just RADIANT GENIUS. It’s been on my desk for a while now. I have no idea what it means, so it’s useless, the product of a less refined moment.

But I can’t bear to throw it away. Adorable that I thought that note would be useful later. How could anyone forget the entire phantasmagorical world of ideas unlocked by those infamous words of power: RADIANT GENIUS.

There’s another note on my desk. It says Robots and Dragons. And there is a little smiley face on it, to emphasize the calm confidence I had in those words at the time. Clearly it was a genius idea — though I’m not sure I’d call it radiant genius.

I’ve written a bit about notetaking and systems for developing creative ideas. But the above are evidence that there’s another side to scribbling everything down: some proportion isn’t useful and is at best clutter, and at worst is confusing.

A few might be comedy gold, fodder for the pinboard. But the whole effort at keeping notes falls flat if it isn’t searchable to some extent. The whole system has to be purged periodically for it to be of any use.

For me, that just means reading over everything, collating things into a blog post or my .inbox file on Evernote (inbox sorting in Evernote is explained here), or a list of quotations that I keep on Notion (twinned with things that sync from my Kindle using ReadWise). Occasionally things go into Obsidian, where I’m building a sort of personal Wiki (they call it a Second Brain, but that sounds a bit grand for what I’ve got going on).

Keeping things running smoothly does mean throwing things away, which I find difficult, especially when I feel like the note is just on the cusp of reminding me of something good. But if it doesn’t serve as a decent trigger for your memory, the note has failed, so it has to go.

I wrote a few weeks ago about my generally scattered mindset at the moment, and how that’s been refelcted in a messy workspace. So my focus for the next little while is keeping clutter to a minimum. Though I’m going to keep RADIANT GENIUS a while longer.

Published inArt and CreativityLearning and Habits