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I have multiple projects each requiring their own research that's not interrelated. (ie: Database Admin, Systems Admin, Database Development). Knowledge in these areas is endless and falls under categories of
- Solving most recent problems
- Forming ideas on how to best proceed
- Background knowledge
- Interest

Most of it comes from web browsing and all kinds of books available.

I am basically overwhelmed because the knowledge base is broad and the projects are multiple and unrelated. How would you divide up and organize the research & still feel like progress is made in each project?

This is has to also be scheduled as more or less daily/weekly task.


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I would normally just organize it by task like any other project, but research & self education is more fluid and undefined, hence why I'm asking. Hope someone is also in this kind of situation.. ie: similar to a startup work environment – Dina Jul 25 '12 at 14:31
up vote 2 down vote accepted

What's the purpose of learning in these areas? Just to learn because you're interested? To write a paper or a book? In case you need to know this information for a job? To pass one or more certification exams? Knowing and being able to clearly express your goal will often help you figure out what you need to get there.

That said, I mostly use Evernote to organize information. I use a Reference notebook, and tag each entry in however many ways the material might be of use to me. Smart searching capabilities in Evernote make it very fast and easy to retrieve what I need.

Or is the question how to organize the research activity as one or more projects? In "Getting Things Done" terms, I'd be asking myself why I'm doing these research projects, what life goal are they supporting. And that would drive setting some shorter term goals that could be defined as actual projects with a specific completion outcome.

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The purpose is it's a part of my job. So the actual purpose to be able to complete tasks related to work related projects. The best way I can describe it as: if I had a bakery, the research would be 1)Which stove to buy 2) Recipes 3)How to avoid food spoilage. Etc – Dina Jul 25 '12 at 20:24
I see. I'm a GTD (Getting Things Done) user, so I approach this kind of activity (which I also need for my job) as 1) projects with deadlines and a deliverable (recommendation for a stove) 2) Someday/Maybe projects (recipes I might want to try) and 3) general keep-up-on-things activity learning about "stuff", which I do primarily with RSS feeds to various blogs and news sites. When I find something in this last category I want for the future, I snip and tag in Evernote. – Dennis S. Jul 26 '12 at 17:26
Ah! That's what I think I'm looking for! – Dina Jul 26 '12 at 19:12

I organize a lot of information for various things, like writing continuing education programs. I almost exclusively use Word because of its OUTLINE feature. Many people don't even realize what they can do with it. It's definitely worth learning about. I like it over other outliners, in part, because 1) I can see the complete document--the outline is not divided up into separate notes they way most outliners work; 2) It has all of Word's features, so you can quickly convert it into a finished document if that is the goal; 3) Styles! If you don't know about that, definitely learn, and outlines have another benefit, such as fairly good conversion to HTML (if you strip out and replace the CSS).

So, for example, one file has all the research for a paper. Another file is the paper, which is to become the final vesion. The research file has topics that I dump research and citations into. But my personal projects and research get the Word Outline treatment as well, so I practically live out of that program. Sadly, transferring material from Word to Evernote and vice vera, cause the loss of headline structure information that is crucial to outlineing, so I suggest sticking with Word for this system.

If there's anything better, it's probably specialized enough that it would have to be a good fit, to make it worth giving up the very general flexibility of Word.

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Interesting thanks!! I've recently began using Evernote and so far it's growing but still searchable. How do I go about learning Word? Just start making outlines or is there a good tutorial out there? Merci – Dina Sep 27 '12 at 13:50
@Dina Just as a counterpoint, I strongly recommend against Word as a means of collecting and organizing information. Consider instead a wiki, mindmapping, or anything that lets you organizing quickly and easily outside of a single document. Word is a word processor, and a somewhat-okay one: it's suited for that purpose. It is not a research tool, a means of organizing, qualifying, and quantifying data. – Dave Newton Oct 13 '12 at 13:56
Excellent, thanks Robert! @Dina I found this YT video of relevance: – grunwald2.0 Feb 26 '13 at 15:16

Have you try mind-mapping? Mind Tools have some other Learning Tools you can try.

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