Spatial Organization

How to find patterns and insights in your notes

Think about any long-term project you’re working on.

Maybe it’s a book, or maybe it’s a startup idea, or maybe it’s a movie script. You probably spend lots of time thinking about ideas or running into little bits of inspiration. Every time something strikes you as relevant you probably stick it into a page in Roam, or a notebook in Evernote.

After several months of doing this you have a gigantic list of stuff. That’s good in the sense that you have lots of material to work with. But it’s very bad in the sense that none of that material is at all actionable for you — it’s just a long, unordered list.

What you want to do is pull out the hidden connections between the items you’ve collected. You want to find themes, and patterns. You want to coalesce the pieces of inspiration into chapters, or features, or ideas. 

So you need to organize the list! You could try pushing this long list into sub-pages or maybe tag them with themes, but that’s very hard to do. How do you know which tags are the right tags?

It’s easier to talk about if we use an example.

Let’s imagine that we’re starting a restaurant. We’ve been collecting ideas for menu items in Roam, and now we want to build our menu and our restaurant concept based on the dishes we’ve collected. 

The list looks like this:

Learn more

This post is for
paying subscribers

Subscribe →

Or, login.

Read this next:

Superorganizers

The Double Life of Productivity’s Most Famous Doctor

YouTuber Ali Abdaal shares how he makes the productivity videos that have netted him 1M subscribers

129 🔒 Sep 24, 2020 by Dan Shipper

Superorganizers

How the Head of Growth at Superhuman Does His Email

Gaurav Vohra on how he uses focus and flow to find order in the chaos of his work life

108 🔒 Aug 29, 2020 by Dan Shipper

Superorganizers

How to Make Yourself Into a Learning Machine

Shopify’s Director of Production Engineering explains how reading broadly helps him get to the bottom of things

93 Mar 3, 2020

Napkin Math

Announcing Napkin Math Fiscal Year 2021

After a short break, Napkin Math returns with a new writer

14 🔒 Apr 13, 2021 by Evan Armstrong and Adam Keesling

The Sunday Digest

Why You Should Apply to the Everything Fellowship

Send us some of your writing––we might print more of it (and pay!)

1 Nov 30, 2020