Make information active and develop yourself with Do Notes

Do you spend time reading new information?  Do you regularly take in new stimuli? Do you allow yourself time to absorb your influences?

This question was raised by Todd Henry in an Accidental Creative podcast recently. It got me thinking: I love research, I love new stimuli, but do I really take it all in? Do I give myself time to integrate the new information I am gathering?

I work creatively with children in schools and notice that children’s attention spans lessen every year.  It is the world we live in.  We want everything to be instant.  The internet has turned us into a ‘click and scan’ generation.  No longer do we spend time really living information, or absorbing it.  But it is by going deeper into something that we make new links and create meaning for our own lives.

Modern life prefers us to skate the surface, skim-reading until we find the morsel we want, and blaming Google if we can’t find it within a minute or two.

Information has become disposable.

However, research shows that the most successful people both read and integrate new ideas.  They do take time to explore its hidden depths.  Successful people take the time to cogitate, to think, to philosophise.  And most importantly, this leads them to new ideas and innovation.

So how do we make sure we absorb and integrate new stimuli?

Engagement and participation are key to long-term retention of learning.  The more active you are in your learning, the more you learn.

So is there a tool we can use when surfing, or reading to help us become more active?  Is there a tool we can use that take our learning forwards?

I got to thinking about this and came up with the Do Note:

The Do Note will help you turn words into actions.


The Do Note is designed to help you turn words into actions.  When you read new information, it asks you to think about it.  It asks you to plan what you want to do with your learning.  How will you move it forwards?  These become your Action bullet points.  In this way, you absorb stimulus better and keep its momentum rolling forwards.  

Let’s say you use a Do Note on this blog, right now.

The title is Do Note. The date is the 1st of June.  The summary is ways to make learning permanent. The action points are:

  • turn scrap paper into Do Notes
  • listen to podcast with Do Note
  • collect Do Notes every week and order relevant books from Amazon

In this way, you have created a list of actions you want to take, following the information you have just learned.

Your brain is no longer passive, but active in creating the next step.

Want your own Do Note?  Simply save this image and print it out, use the template above to create an iPhone Note, or even better, recycle your scrap paper and make your own Do Notes.

I keep Do Note handy as I surf the web and read blogs.  Whenever I get hooked on some new information, I fill in a Do Note.  I have found them particularly useful when listening to podcasts.  There are often questions raised in podcasts I’d like to explore more, and using Do Notes now helps my learning move forwards.

In this way, my new influences are becoming active and are starting to have a faster, stronger impact on my life.