In the Discovery Phase, you built information streams relevant to your work in the form of a filled RSS reader and social media. In the Recording Phase, you start reading those information streams with the question or topic driving your project in mind. If it’s an information stream you’ve been cultivating through several projects, then really you’re just reading within the context of your current project to see what jumps out at you.
What should be jumping out at you? Anything that could be useful or that surprises you. For each item in the stream you’re asking yourself the following questions:
- Is this related to my current project?
- Is this related to an upcoming project?
- Is this related to my interests?
- Is this just plain cool?
- How am I going to find this information again when I need it?
Don’t worry. With practice, you’ll sort them in the blink of an eye.
You’ll notice three of these questions don’t apply to your current project. I’m a big believer in storing up information for projects I know I have in the pipeline to make the research phase go a bit more quickly. I create folders in Instapaper to store links to articles and websites that will benefit that future project. I’m also a bit of a digital packrat when it comes to articles and links that relate to my personal interests. You’d be surprised how often those get pulled into my projects.
Sometimes you just find something that fits into neither of those categories, but you just can’t let it go. Those you post to your favorite social media platform and go on with your day.
That leaves the two questions that do relate to your current project. The whole reason for having these information streams is to be able to cull out useful information as it comes through, and then to store it somewhere you can easily retrieve or work with it later. Again, I like to use Instapaper for this part of the process. As you’re gathering these articles and links, though, you may notice that your early research is taking on a more specific focus that can help you gain a better understanding of what you’re really trying to accomplish in your project.