How To Research Efficiently

Building guidance takes a lot of research.  Over the years, I've learned how to do this faster and easier.  One of the most important things I do is setup my folders (whether file system or Groove)

Initial Folders

/Project X
Folder Over Time
Over time, this ends up looking more like
Project X
/Source X
/Source Y
/Source Z
/Topic X
/Topic Y
/Topix Z
/Tests X
/Tests Y
/Tests Z
/Topic X
/Topic Y
/Topic Z

Key Points

  • Factor reference from research.  Reference is stuff I pull in from various sources, such as slides, blogs, articles ... etc.  Research holds the notes and docs I create.  This way I avoid mixing information I create with information that I reference.  Having a place to store my reference information helps me optimize when I'm hunting and gathering resources in batch mode.  I also find that it saves me time when I have to go back and figure out where information came from.

  • Factor stages of information.  In my basic workflow, I move information from research to drafts to builds.  (where builds are guides)  Keeping them separate makes it very easy for me to know the current state of the information and it gives me a safe place to re-factor and make changes.  Research is effectively my sandbox to create documents and organize my notes as I see fit.  Drafts is where I have to make decision on what and how to share the information.  Builds is where I produce a shareable set of information.

  • Have a place for whiteboard captures.  Whiteboards is where I dump pics from whiteboarding sessions.  I'm a fan of doing braindumps at the whiteboard and quickly dumping to a place to reference.  If it's just text, I write it down.  If it's visual, I take a pic and file it.

I use this approach whether I'm doing personal learning or building 1200+ page guides.  This approach helps me spend more time researching and less time figuring out where to put the information.

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Comments (7)

  1. alik levin's says:

    This post is about manual file management. I came across How To Research Efficiently and I decided to

  2. dre says:

    you might like, reddit, or google notebook.  if you want offline, try the firefox extension, `scrapbook’.  oh, right, you work for microsoft

  3. larry says:

    Very nice J.D.   Folks,what this ‘how-to research efficiently’ represent  in essence an incredibly valuable ‘Pattern’ of Analysis.   This basic break down can be applied to any analysis tools set.

    Given we are in the information age any tools that humans can use to collect, organize and identify information from the noise is very useful.

    keep surfing

  4. Mitch Wheat says:

    I’d almost arrived at the same technique (but not quite as organised). Very nice post! I’m going to try and follow this guidance.

  5. Book building is art and science. I’ve built a few books over the years at patterns & practices.

  6. How can you read faster while improving your comprehension? A few of my colleagues who follow my Book

  7. How can you read faster while improving your comprehension? A few of my colleagues who follow my Book

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