Information Cultivation #1 — Principles


I powered through a PhD with a productivity system” of random paper notebooks (sometimes just scraps of paper), poorly named .docx files, and constantly re-reading my old writing in order to find citations I needed.

This was bedlam. Like many people who finish a PhD, looking back, I have no idea how I actually managed to pull it off

Post-PhD, balancing writing, research, and language-learning with editing and educating roles, I pasted together a new system. Filtering out what did and didn’t work, I have crafted a small system I call information cultivation.

This is a post sharing the principles of informational cultivation — the practical steps of how I implement it will come in a later newsletter.

These are pragmatic, focused on inspiring concrete action — not grand philosophical statements about what information is”. The point of information cultivation is to liquify productivity, turning it into a portable way of thinking which filters into how you use different tools, rather than a snazzy new replacement for your bullet journal or kanban board.


  1. Information leads to more information.
    • Taking a note now leads to more notes later — this is good.
    • Taking an action now leads to more actions later — this is very good.
  2. Information input > information output.
    • Not all input has to be written down, but you usually don’t know what shouldn’t be written until it’s too late.
    • The signal will reveal itself from the noise if the seed germinates.
  3. Information happens in cycles.
    • Outputs happen best at particular times — within circadian, calendrical, seasonal, and other cycles.
    • Watch them, don’t fight them.
  4. Information uses the default settings.
    • Information cultivation is the act of setting up your present self so that your future self is effective.
    • Changing your settings on the fly causes information ropeburn.
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