How much time does it take to do research?
Most of us do our research once we sit down to write an article, create a webinar or podcast. A zillion hours later, the content is still not ready and the hours have flown away needlessly. And that's because we go about doing research the “wrong way”.
All research needs to be done in advance and stored away. But how do you find it once it's stored away? That's where the power of opposite tagging, default notebook, the phone and iPad come along.
Find out how to reclaim those zillions of hours back—right now!
In this episode Sean talks about
Part 1: How to Take Pictures and Why They're So Critical
Part 2: How to Tag in Different Ways
Part 3: The Default Notebook.
Useful Resources and links
5000bc—How can you get reliable answers to your complex marketing problems?
The Three Month Vacation Podcast—Library of Business Podcasts
Psychotactics Newsletter—Weekly slightly crazy, mostly zany marketing newsletter
This is the 3-Month Vacation and I'm Sean D'Souza
When I was a teenager, nothing was more interesting to me than finding money in my pant pockets. I'd have all these pairs of jeans and obviously I'd use some of them and then not use the others, and just mix them around. Then eventually I'd go back to the same pair of jeans, yes, dirty jeans, we know. You're a teenager, remember? Then I'd find money and I'd announce it to the world. My mother would go, “But, it's your own money.”
I just found it really interesting. I found it very exciting to find money that I thought I didn't have. I don't know what it might feel like to win the lottery because I'll never buy a lottery ticket, but this sure felt great. To me it felt like winning the lottery. There was of course, a problem with this method, and that was I couldn't find money when I needed it, and so it was not such an efficient method.
Evernote on the other hand, is an amazing tool. If you want to find information, you can find it every single time.
When I first got Evernote, I thought it was a pretty average tool. I didn't understand it. You know how you sit down and you do research every time you're writing an article or you're writing a book or you're creating a podcast or a video? That's the worst time to ever do research. Research should be done in advance. Evernote is a research tool where you collect all your information in advance and then you're able to find it easily. In fact, you don't have to remember anything because Evernote will remember it for you. In this episode we're also going to cover a concept of tagging that you've probably not considered and that will make your entire presentation, your books and other stuff, amazing.
Back in 2010, I was doing a workshop on uniqueness and we were doing the workshop in California, then in Washington D.C. and then in Guildford, which is just outside London. That summer was a brutal summer for me. Remember, summer is December in New Zealand, so all of December, and a good part of January, I was really tired because I had been writing the notes for the workshop. We always send the notes month in advance for all our workshops. We send all the participants the notes a month in advance. Then once I finished the notes I had to start on the slide. When I'm working on slides, I'll put most of the information together and then I'll leave some slides blank for examples and more information that I need to add later.
The time came for us to leave on our trip and off we went to the U.S. We reached Campbell, California. That was our first stop. After the first day, which went really well, I sat down in the evening and I went through my slides for the next day. At that point in time, I found a whole bunch of slides that had blanks in them, as in they had the information but there were no graphics and there were no examples and I just cannot have a presentation without a ton of examples. That really helps the participants understand the concept. It also breaks up this intensity of information.
I've got no examples and it's 8:00 at night. I've been up since 4 in the morning and been running around all day at the workshop. Where am I going to find any examples at this hour? I go to my pant pockets. That's Evernote. I dig into them and there are 108 notes on uniqueness. Now, not all of them are examples, but 108 notes on one topic and I'm ecstatic. I mean, I'm exhausted but I'm ecstatic because at least I can get some of the examples, take screenshots, do what I have to do and I'm ready for the presentation the next day. This is the power of Evernote. It's the power of doing research in advance long before you need it.
What are we going to cover today? The first thing that we're going to cover today is how to take pictures and why they're so critical. The second is tagging. It's not enough to just tag. You have to know how to tag in 2 different ways. The third is the factor of the default notebook and this is very powerful when you're writing a book or creating a series or doing something which is a current kind of project.
Let's start off with the first one, which is how to take pictures. You think you know this, right? Well, let's find out.
Part 1: How to Take Pictures and Why They're So Critical
How do I pick up stories along the way? Well, I use my Smartphone as a weapon and then I use my iPad as a second weapon and my computer, that's the third weapon. They're all used in completely different ways, but still to capture stuff from Evernote or to Evernote. Let's first start with the Smartphone. Let's say I'm at the café, because I'm always at the café. My eyes fall on a newspaper or magazine. Now, there's an interesting story and it catches my imagination, so what I'll do is I'll take a picture of that story, a photograph. It doesn't matter whether I need the story or not. Let's say it's a story about Singapore Airlines or another story about cockroaches.
I'm going to find the story interesting because it has amused me or it has some relevant information or some facts which are really interesting and so I'm going to take a picture. Then I'll just file it under “Interesting Stories.” More often than not, I'll be working on a project. For example, a few months ago I was working on the Information Products course and at that point in time, my entire focus was simply on the course, the course, and nothing but the course. Any story I was reading about somehow ended up being on the course. Let's take, for example, Singapore Airlines.
I found that whatever story I read on Singapore Airlines was very interesting. It was about how their air hostesses are trained for as many as 6 months before they go on a regular flight. Now I had no idea why I found that point interesting, but to be trained for 6 months before you get on the flight, that was really interesting. What I also found was that they were sent to schools, they were sent to old age homes and as I read the story, suddenly it seemed to have a lot of depth.
When you're writing you're completely in a state of chaos. Everything's moving around you, this chapter's merging to that chapter, you have no clue what's happening. It's best to just put away these examples and maybe file them under “Info Products,” because I was working on Info Products or “Singapore Airlines,” and then forget about it. Now I used to do this in the old days when I had a PC. I had a swipe file and I would store all these things and then of course, I couldn't find anything. The beauty of Evernote is that when you take a picture, the picture has text in it.
Somewhere in the text it said Singapore Airlines. Now, I've taken a photograph, but Evernote recognizes text, so if I can just remember one word or a couple of words about the story or about the incident, say I took a picture about cockroaches and there was information about the cockroaches. It just needs to have the word cockroach on the page. I've taken a photograph and Evernote will find it. That's the beauty of it. I can find whatever I want just by recalling one little fact about that entire story. My phone becomes a weapon.
No matter where I go, I'm taking photographs of different stories, different incidents, and yes, I do tag them and I will get to that. The point is even if you don't tag them, but you remember one word in that entire story, you are able to pull it back whenever you want it, on demand. My iPad, I use it differently. Usually I'm reading on the iPad. I don't really surf that much on the iPad. I use it to read books on Kindle and that's the reason why I buy the books on Kindle, so I can read them.
Then I highlight a certain section. Say I was reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and in that Charles talks about Michael Phelps and how he did this swim almost blinded. I thought, “This is a great story.” I had no idea where I was going to use it, but I thought, “It's a great story.” On the iPad, I can highlight it. They have a highlighter in the software and so I just highlighted it and I take a screenshot. If you don't know how to take a screenshot, look online, but you take a screenshot.
Then, I send that photograph to Evernote. Then later on, 8 months later or 8 years later, I want to pull up a story on Michael Phelps, like I did in the podcast a few weeks ago, and it's there. I don't have to look for it. Evernote will just find it. It will find all the instances of Michael Phelps and there I've got my story. You can be completely disorganized and take picture after picture, as long as you remember the word or the term, you will be able to find it.
However, you want to be a little smarter than that and that's when we start to use tagging.
Part 2: Tagging In Different Ways
Did I tell you that tagging is super cool? Well, I'm about to tell you how super cool it is. My system, this patented system of tagging, it's better than anything you've ever seen. I'll tell you why. There are 2 ways to tag. Let's find out how. Tagging is just a matter of putting in terms. For instance, say you took a picture of the Himalayas. They're called the Himalayas, by the way, not Himalayas. Let's say you took a picture of the Himalayas and then you decided to tag it as “high” and “mountains,” or something like that.
You want to tag it the inverse way as well. You want to tag it as “low,” so you use the tag “high” and also “low.” Use the tag for say another picture, “fast” and “slow.” You use the opposites. Why are these opposites so important? Because when you're telling a story, you don't have to go with the story itself. Supposing there's the story of Michael Phelps and how the water clouded his goggles and how he won the championship. Well that's a story about victory, but you could just as easily to one about defeat. Let's say you've got a presentation and you're going to put in a picture and you want to talk about defeat.
At that point in time, you bring up this story. How's it going to be about defeat? Well, there is a second place, isn't it? Someone lost by 0.001 seconds or something like that. You can show how that person lost simply because someone else was slightly more prepared. Every story has 2 sides. It depends on how you look at it. It's about winning and losing, about high and low, about fast and slow. Everything can be tagged in several ways. In fact, that's what I do for all my cartoons.
You know that I draw cartoons on a regular basis. When I draw the cartoons, I tag them, but I tag them both ways. If you're in a hurry you just tag them “high” and “low” and “fast” and “slow,” but if you've got a thesaurus at hand you can put in some more keywords. Now, this is very critical because when you're looking for an example somewhere in the future 3 months from now, 6 years from now, you might type a term like “flexibility.” Of course you'd be expecting all the stories that show up to be about people doing yoga, but in fact you will get a story about inflexibility.
Then you can run this contrasty kind of story where a certain company was inflexible and how flexibility is important. This creates magic. This is the beauty of Evernote. When you file a story, you want to use the tagging system because sure it takes 3 more second and you're in a big hurry, but when you use the tags, which are for and against, “high” and “low,” then you create magic. This magic is going to help you when you need it at 8:00 p.m. at night when you have to do slides on the next day and you can barely keep your eyes open. That's how effective Evernote is, but you have to use tagging. Two types of tagging.
This takes us to the third part. The third part is called the default notebook.
Part 3: The Default Notebook
A lot of people don't know about this as well. Here's why the default notebook is really critical. Now, Evernote stores things in folders which they call notebooks. They're just like books and you can put your stuff with tags, but also in that folder. Let's say I'm doing something on pricing. Then I will tag it with whatever tags I want, like “fast” or “slow,” or “high” or “low,” but then I will also put it in a notebook. Yes, 2 more seconds that you have to take to do this.
Interestingly, you might not be in this mood to put it in a notebook. However, if you're out on a mission, say you're taking pictures of pricing related stuff all along the way. Then what you can do is you can assign a default notebook and you usually do this from your computer. You want to look this up. I'm not going to give you a tutorial right now. It saves you a ton of time because you don't have to allocate the notebook every single time that you're putting in some new information.
At one point in time my notebook was allocated to talent because I wanted to write a book on talent and so every single photograph I took or any note I made, just went by default into the talent notebook. If I search the talent notebook in the future, it will be easy to find it without having to put in any tags or anything of that nature. My default notebook was Talent and supposing I ran into a story about pricing or a story about microfilms or a story about just about anything, then it's just a matter of reassigning that photograph or that story to another notebook.
If you are just working on a single project and then you're taking hundreds of pictures related to that project, then you don't even have to think about it. It just goes into the default notebook and that saves you an enormous amount of time. While we are mostly talking about the phone and the iPad to store most of your information, you can also use the computer. Evernote has some really good browser extensions. You just go to the Evernote site and whatever browser you're using, say you're using Safari or Firefox, it has browser extensions. When you're on a site anywhere you can click on that browser extension and then save that page to Evernote, which is very cool.
Again, you want to go through some of the tagging and maybe put it in a notebook, and that makes it very effective. This is a swipe file online. The beauty of the swipe file is that unlike that money which I would find in my pant pocket every now and then, you can find this every single time. When people say, “Well, I don't have any stories, I can't remember any stories,” you shouldn't be looking for stories at the time of writing an article. You shouldn't be looking for stories at the time of writing your presentation. You must not be looking for stories when you're writing your book. They're all there sitting in Evernote, waiting for you when you're ready. Then you just pick from them. That's the beauty of Evernote.
What are the 3 things that we covered today? Let's summarize.
The first thing that we covered was how to take pictures. You take pictures with your phone and then you just search for them. Evernote will find the text within the pictures. The second thing is the iPad and when you're reading a book, when you're reading a magazine on your iPad, you want to take a screenshot and then upload that to Evernote. Then later on you just use it. The second thing that we covered was this concept of tagging and how you should tag both ways: “high” and “low,” “fast” and “slow,” which then gives you contrast because it's very average to say, “This mountain is high,” and then put a picture of a mountain. If you have something very low that creates a contrast. That creates drama. That's what you're looking for.
Finally, it's the default notebook. The default notebook allows you to just take picture after picture after picture without having to do any tagging whatsover. It just goes into the default notebook that you've allocated. Very cool. The biggest benefit of Evernote is that it saves time for me and that all of this research that everyone is doing at the time of writing an article, or writing a book, or doing a podcast, is a complete waste of time. You never do research at that stage. You always do the research in advance. That's what Evernote is. It's your research in advance and it's there to be found on demand.
It's 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning and I've been at this podcast recording. This is my second podcast recording for the day. I've been at it since about 3:30 this morning just so that I could have a bank of podcasts because we're going away on vacation. When we go away on vacation, we make sure that we have all the newsletters lined up for the entire month that we've been away and also for a month after we get back. Because once you get back, you're not exactly in the mood to get started right away. It's very easy to just drop the ball. The podcast and the newsletters and anything that needs to go is covered not only for the time that we're away, but when we get back as well.
As usual, you can find all of the transcripts and any other information that you need, any resources, at www.psychotactics.com/41. This is true for any of the podcasts, so you just put the slash, number 39, number 38, and you can go there. You can find me on Twitter, at Sean D'Souza. I'm also on Facebook, Sean D'Souza and Sean@psychotactics.com. If you're a member of 5000bc, we discuss these podcasts and other information and if you're not a member, then you want to become a member of 5000bc. When I get back from Italy, I'm going to bring out the Article Writing Course version 2.0. We've had version 1.0 for the longest time. Version 2.0 is coming out. It's really, really good.
How do I know it's really, really good? Because it's being supervised by the alumni. They're a strict bunch of people and they're going to make sure that I do a good job. We're also going to have the stock cartoons that I talked about, so you have to be on the newsletter list to get that information. That's going to go pretty quickly because we're going to have a limited number. We don't want the stock cartoons to appear all over the Internet. We're also going to do the headline course and headline trainer and then the brain audit trainer. There's going to be a lot of activity from June to December, but for now I'll say bye and thanks for listening. This is Sean from the 3-Month Vacation and psychotactics.com. Bye-bye.
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