3 Tips on Better Information Gathering for Professionals
We rely on information for every part of our lives, whether it is while working, studying or running a business. In fact, searching for information is quickly becoming second nature for many, especially professionals in select fields. Anything from finding out the latest from our nation’s political landscape to learning more about customer feedback and their decision making process involves doing a search for the right information.
The new features of Evernote 8.0 are geared towards making gathering and processing information easier. Before we get to them, however, we are going to talk about three expert tips for better information gathering for professionals. Let’s get started, shall we?
Gather First, Sort Later
Depending on the kinds of information you’re looking for, it is not always easy to sort them as you find them. When doing an internet search for the latest news from your industry, for instance, it doesn’t take long before you have dozens of browser tabs open, each with different news articles and other information just waiting to be processed.
There is a better way of gathering the same amount of information without spending as much time: focus on one task at a time. You don’t have to shift through a lot of web pages to find relevant information immediately. You just have to fine tune your search parameters to make sure every piece of information you discover is filtered, even on the most basic level. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Since you’re focusing on gathering information first and sorting it later, the process of adding relevant information to your data bank will be much easier to do. You can quickly add new notes to your Evernote app and find notes later with the help of our new search functionalities. You can also quickly scan each piece of information you get and categorize it using different colors.
Refine Your Search Parameters
There is a lot of noise to deal with when you’re searching for information. When trying to find key points for a presentation, you will come across a lot of information that can easily make the speech too long and draggy. Unless you have a strict set of pointers guiding your search, it is difficult not to get caught in a huge pile of noise and irrelevant information.
Fortunately, the best search engines and sources of information now let you refine your search to eliminate noise and junk data. Google, for instance, lets you search a particular site, search for a specific set of keywords and modify your search query to meet other specific needs. Master the advanced Google search parameters and you will be able to find the information you need quickly.
The same approach can be applied to other searches too. Let’s say you’re performing market research to better understand your customers’ purchase decision. The questions you add to the survey are actually your search parameters. By asking all the right questions, you can avoid introducing bad data into your research.
Seek Secondary Data
Primary data can only tell you so much. To understand the bigger picture, you also need to add secondary data to your search for information. This is a key skill I picked up from Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general who once directed the CIA and NSA. Searching and processing information is his trade and he is now an expert in topics such as cyber security and geopolitics for several news outlets.
“Context, the big picture, is just as important in deciphering information,” according to Hayden. Context is very important indeed. Secondary information is great for two main purposes: for separating bad information from the information you actually need and for understanding the different pieces of puzzle you have gathered.
There is one other way having secondary data is useful. You will be able to know which information is still missing as you begin processing the data you have gathered. Again, this approach is useful in different forms of information gathering. When preparing for a school presentation, relying on basic theories already available to you can help you fill gaps in your data bank in a more targeted way.
All of these tips will not only help you save time but also make information gathering a lot easier. Add Evernote’s newest features to your arsenal of data gathering tools, and you are all set. You will be able to target the right sources of data, gather information and process it quickly, and of course understand the bigger picture using secondary data and additional sources of information.