“Under the thinning fog, the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness.”

– Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

(Link to the Informed Life Podcast episode.)

Gathering thoughts is quite a grail of productivity. After all, thoughts are a profound aspect of who we have developed as human beings. Meanwhile, we tend to have more thoughts than we can actually chase down and do something about.

Taking notes is really just an extension of one of the most primal tools we have created, namely writing. More recently, we have shifted towards filtering and connecting ideas. Either way, however, we try to make sense of those things that come to mind.

Sometimes writing helps to ground us. Sometimes it makes us money. Sometimes it entertains us. Sometimes it invigorates us with meaning.

Throughout schooling, the idea of writing is often one filled with dread. “Write 2 pages about this topic completely irrelevant to your life by tomorrow.” Or possibly worse, “Write 2 pages about this topic totally relevant to your life, sharing something you are not ready or willing to share.”

When you take charge of writing, you take charge of your thought. When you can more firmly stand ground with idea, with questioning them, with finding conviction, you tend to be more confident in conversation, be that with friends or in business.

Simplistically, it’s like the difference between being assigned a book to read and choosing the same book yourself. The difference that agency makes is night and day.

Even so, writing is just an elaboration on the ever simple and ever powerful pause. It’s a method of slowing down to allow thoughts to appear that otherwise would not.

In a recent podcast I did with Jorge Arango at the Informed Life, I discuss how I use DEVONthink in managing ideas so they can playfully argue with each other, and form into solid writing works that I enjoy sharing. It’s a bird’s eye view of how I work with DEVONthink.