How to Save Online Content (And Turn This Content Into Inspiration)

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This article is roughly a 3 minute read.

Capturing content that I find inspiring has always been easy for me.  I have notes on my phone, screenshots saved to my camera roll, typed notes sprawled out over four apps, voice notes, handwritten notes over three journals, Pins, liked videos and finally, and most uselessly, emails to myself. Any of this sound familiar?

Like a lot of us, I consume a great deal of content. Capturing the insights for use later definitely requires a system or else you'll end up like I was; saving information, but not actually using it and losing my ideas to multiple apps and notebooks.

My solution to this nonsense is what I like to call my 'It's a Keeper: Catalog of Inspiration'

This idea of capturing content in a useful way was inspired by quite a few sources. For instance, David Allen's quote  "The brain is for having ideas, not for storing them" (Allen's book, Getting Things Done, is a wonderful productivity resource); by Austin Kleon's book Steal like an Artist and finally; by Ali Abdaal's "Resonance Calendar".

My effective way of cataloging inspiration from across the Web goes something like this...

Commit to using one database to consolidate your idea capture.

Any software that has the following features will do:

  1. Allows you to input information with ease;
  2. Has a tagging function to allow you to categorize content and filter according to these categories;
  3. Can connect one bit of information to another.

I use Notion. It's a powerful database tool that, along with the features listed, has a delight factor; you can make things look quite pretty.  I capture the information with Notion's mobile app which makes capturing content as easy as sharing a photo.  I also use a browser extension to capture information from my desktop. Upon capturing the information, I use the app or browser extension to tag it . This makes filtering later on a breeze.  This process is almost too easy.  I've often surprised myself with how many 'It's a Keeper' captures I might make in a day.  This is why the next step is necessary.

Review the content that you have captured at least once a week.

This is the powerful bit.  You now have a resource that you can mine whenever you have a project or need to come up with ideas. You don't have to start from nothing. You can start with an abundance of inspiration that you've curated yourself that subsequently reflects what resonates with you.

Say a friend asks me to help build them a website.  I simply sort my Catalog of Inspiration by the tag 'web design' and I'm presented with useful tips and tricks and a ton of inspiration straight away.

Say I'm having a bad day and could use some motivational quotes.  I follow the same process and I'm presented with a entire set of pick me ups, curated by me, just when I need it.

Or say I'm wanting something to listen to while I fold clothes or wash the dishes, I forego scrolling through recommendations generated by an algorithm (such a time sink!). Instead I consult my Catalog of Inspiration to offer useful content that I saved previously but didn't have time to listen to at the moment.

Once you have this Catalog of Inspiration, it's quite fun to scroll through your captures and see what struck a chord with you at various times in your life.  It's easy to pick out trends (I went through a fiction fantasy book phase just recently). Just a quick scroll keeps things top of mind.  You'll be amazed at how easy it is to get into a creative flow when inspiring content is top of mind.

You can also creatively connect together information to come up with your own unique insights borrowed from what others have done before you. Or you can repackage or distill information created by others into a form that makes sense for your needs.

Feel free during this step to purge the information that no longer strikes a chord or captures that you cannot recall why you made them. Having this fully tagged database and pulling up information when you need it means that you can free up your mind for other things. You've captured the information and know where to go when you need it.  It's a great feeling.  Well mostly great, if after a while you start to feel as I did, the next step will get you back on track.

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Check in with yourself regularly to assess if your intake of content is serving you.

This step revealed itself after I had been using this system for quite some time. I was very happy with myself for stopping the madness and finding a system that worked so well for me.  It made me happy to open my Notion page and see everything that I have gleaned inspiration from all in one place...

...until one day I opened my Notion and I wasn't happy anymore, I was unsettled.  I was confused until I realized the problem was I had a system without a goal.  For me it was like running a race without a finish line. Some might not be phased by the long list of captured content, but I was.  This was when I started organizing my captures less in terms of categories, but more in terms of projects.  What projects did I have in mind that I was either working on or hoped to work on one day that I could use this information for.  This made me feel like I had an end purpose for the content I was consuming and it felt good to know that there would be a use for the information that I was capturing.  This slight change in outlook made a big difference. Instead of using tags such as 'writing', I would use a multi-tagging system such as 'writing' 'for the blog' or 'writing' 'for proposals'.

Thanks to this system, I'm back to feeling energized and happy when I open my Notion page.

I'll leave you with a link to my Catalog of Inspiration Notion Template.  You can duplicate the setup to your own Notion account and start using it.

(Click to Get Your Free 'Catalog of Inspiration' Notion Template)
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