Strategies for Productivity and Motivation: Taking Useful Notes and Staying on Track

Tara H

Hatched by Tara H

Apr 19, 2024

3 min read


Strategies for Productivity and Motivation: Taking Useful Notes and Staying on Track


In the quest for productivity and motivation, individuals often seek out strategies that can help them stay focused and driven. Two key elements that can contribute to these goals are taking useful notes and finding ways to stay motivated even when progress seems slow. This article explores the benefits of using an outline wall for note-taking and offers actionable advice on how to stay motivated amidst the challenges of slow progress.

Taking Useful Notes: The Power of an Outline Wall

Renowned writer Robert Caro advocated for the use of an outline wall to organize research materials and ideas for his historical works. By creating an outline of the main ideas and concepts of a historical event or period and pinning related research materials around it, Caro was able to visualize the whole picture before starting to write. This approach allowed him to thoroughly think through his work and stay focused on the task at hand. Incorporating this method into our own note-taking practices can enhance organization and clarity in our work.

Connecting Ideas Naturally: Finding Common Points

When it comes to taking notes, finding common points across different sources or topics is crucial for creating a cohesive narrative or argument. By identifying shared themes, ideas, or perspectives, we can naturally connect disparate pieces of information and create a more coherent and comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. This approach not only facilitates the note-taking process but also aids in later stages of analysis and synthesis.

Staying Motivated: Trusting the Process and Finding Joy

One of the biggest challenges in maintaining motivation is when progress seems slow or non-existent. However, it is important to remember that progress is not always immediately visible. To stay motivated, it is crucial to trust the process and recognize that most achievements require consistent effort over time. By focusing on the daily activities that contribute to our goals and finding joy in them, we can cultivate a positive attitude and build momentum. This mindset shift helps us avoid being solely outcome-focused, as it often leads to frustration and potential failure.

Actionable Advice for Staying Motivated:

  • 1. Trust The Process: Recognize that progress takes time and consistent effort. Trust in the value of your daily activities and believe that they are contributing to your overall goals, even if the results aren't immediately visible.
  • 2. Find An Anchor Point: Record where you started from and establish a benchmark. Measure your progress against this anchor point regularly, whether it's a specific skill you're developing or a habit you're trying to cultivate. By tracking your progress, you'll be able to see how far you've come, even if it feels slow.
  • 3. Find The Joy: Instead of solely focusing on the end result, find joy in the daily activities that lead you toward your goals. Embrace the process, celebrate small wins, and appreciate the growth and learning that occurs along the way. By finding joy in the journey, you'll be more likely to maintain motivation and momentum.


Incorporating effective note-taking practices, such as utilizing an outline wall, can significantly improve organization and clarity in our work. Additionally, staying motivated during times of slow progress requires a mindset shift. By trusting the process, finding anchor points for measurement, and finding joy in the daily activities, we can maintain motivation and achieve our goals. Remember, progress may be slow, but by implementing these strategies, we can stay on track and continue moving forward.

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