What Is Output？
Though surprised at the quick input, many users who started to use flomo may have the following confusion:
- My notes are fragmented. How can I output anything later?
- Outputting (writing) is hard. Is there any simple method?
- How can I integrate flomo with a certain app to help me write articles?
So what is on earth outputting? Though it is a familiar concept, we don’t completely understand it.
When it comes to “output”, we may think of writing articles and blogs, recording podcasts, or publishing books, which may give rise to different fears like “what if I am bad at writing”, “what if no one wants to read”, “what if I make mistakes”, etc. As the fears grow, we may believe that outputting is so hard that it is meaningless to write down notes. So we may transform the fears automatically into another question, that is, “how I can find a convenient tool to help me better at outputting”.
Here I didn’t want to criticize you anything. In my opinion, it is only because we don’t fully understand the concept of “output”.
Does outputting truly require your style of writing? Or is outputting the privilege of writers?
Perhaps you will have a different perspective after finishing this article.
I guess most of you who read this article should be knowledge workers. Knowledge works should focus on quality rather than quantity, just as a teacher would focus on how much knowledge students understand rather than how many students he or she teaches.
The output of a knowledge worker, most of the time, is a better “decision”. In Reason in Human Affairs written by Herbert Simon, he illustrated the process of how a decision is made:
- First, your decisions are not comprehensive choices over large areas of your life, but are generally concerned with rather specific matters, assumed, whether correctly or not, to be relatively independent of other, perhaps equally important, dimensions of life.
- When you make a decision, no matter how important it is, you can not list all the possibilities.
- While making a decision, most of your efforts are spared on knowing facts including both the actual facts and your preference.
But what is the relationship between writing memos and making decisions? I’ll give you an example.
Though I grow older, I still don’t have any personal insurance, which is a latent risk for a family. But it could hardly attract any of my attention. Well, at that time, the insurance industry was notorious, and my parents were once tricked, which caused my bias toward insurance. So I didn’t make any decision on it at all.
Later I learned a course on investment from an app, and I read the knowledge about insurance once again. I had a habit of taking memos on flomo back then, so I took a few notes I learned from that course.
This memo didn’t generate any decision, but it was a seed plowed in my heart. It shifted my thought of “insurance is only for those who are afraid of death” to the thought of “insurance is for the financial security of my family. As a breadwinner, protecting myself is protecting my whole family”.
A few days later when I had a walk with an old friend along the river, we happened to discuss this insurance thing. He is interested in insurance and investment, so he gave me a flood of speeches on these two areas. I also took a memo.
This conversation really unveiled the mask of insurance for me, especially the medical insurance and dread disease insurance. He also corrected my opinions, that is, premiums are not the higher the better. I should consider my own income.
So acquiring the knowledge on insurance, I started to consider making a decision: to take out insurance. Since I am beginning to feel my age and I started to run a startup, I need to take out insurance to lower the financial risks for my family this year. Tomorrow or accident, nobody knows who will come first.
In this example, I didn’t output anything like articles, podcasts, or videos. But I output a decision based on the knowledge. For most of us, this is a kind of output. Without daily input and records, I am afraid I would never have time to study insurance.
Therefore, as a knowledge worker, your result of work is a decision. The problem is that you can never force yourself to think faster. You can only raise the quality of your decisions.
- The premise of decision quality is to have enough knowledge
- Enough knowledge comes from your daily accumulation
- To better accumulate your knowledge, it is important to capture ideas easily.
How to understand the third rule? Think about it, how could you absorb all the information if you save a ten-thousand-word article? Or how could you remember all the information you need if you don’t take any notes?
That’s why it is important to take notes on flomo. It is not for well-written articles but for better decisions.
When it comes to writing as a kind of output, we also have a few misunderstandings such as, what if these notes could not be used later? Should I continue to take notes since I still don’t know how to output after tons of memos?
I once read the article entitled Walking as a Productivity System, there is an inspiring paragraph:
“If you're trying to write an 80,000-word novel and you only write 80,000 words, it might be acceptable. But if you wrote 300,000 or 400,000 words and cut that back to 80,000, it’s almost certain that it would be a better novel.”
Similarly, many of our memos in flomo might not be used forever. Or many of them might be sporadic. But you see, in our lives, we need to do something that seems useless in order to find our true paths. It is the same while taking notes. All efforts are not made for nothing.
And here is another explanation, too. When we have no idea how to output anything, perhaps it is because we don’t have enough input. We don’t absorb as much information as possible to form our own structure. If you have more than a thousand memos in an area, maybe many problems will be solved automatically. I once wrote that an expert only has 50000 knowledge chunks (suppose that a memo is a chunk).
But please remember that there is no such an outputting tool to help you with the problem of not enough inputting. Sometimes when we find we could not output anything, the possible explanation is that we don’t have enough knowledge to do so.
Let go of the fear and anxiety about the future. Writing down everything on your mind in the present is more critical.