Why and how I take notes
Why and how I take notes
Why to take notes
Differentiate between temporary, literary and permanent notes
I often take quick notes in a paper notebook when I am reading. I jot the key idea down. Sometimes I stop and write down related ideas and thoughts, why they are important to me, etc. — but often they are just quick notes without much detail so I can keep reading.
If I don't have a paper notebook with me or if it's incovenient, e.g. it's about a link or tweet, I just write a note in my mobile or computer — or if it's a tweet, I bookmark it there on Twitter.
However, these are temporary notes which will lose meaning if I don't write more about these in the next hours or days.
Then, once I have some time in front of a computer, I review them and I take the ones I care the most and write about them in a way that I will understand in the future. I also think why they are important to me and how they relate to other ideas I care. This last part is key:
The magic happens when you link a note to others
When you compare a note to others — to your existent knowledge:
It lets you appreciate differences and contradictions and, therefore, learn.
Tim O'Reilly says in his book "WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us" that having a language helps us to see deeper. For example, if you know words for different kinds of grass, you'll start to see differences.
You generate new knowledge connecting ideas, identifying patterns, etc. increasing your creativity and fostering innovation.
It lets you remember old content when it is relevant — mainly yours, but also from others.
When you make connections, you remember it better
Honestly, I don't always go back and write permanent notes, but I do it often and it is worth it because when we write permanent notes, we remember better what we write, we also appreciate differences and contradictions and, as Richard Feynman used to say, a great way to learn is by explaining something to others.
Notes are like compound interest
The more notes and relationships you have, the more value you extract. For example, sometimes a new piece of information contradicts another. As you think about how each new idea relates to existent ones, you find these contradictions which lead to learnings and new ideas.
I usually write permanent notes here on Fastjot where I can keep them private, make them public or share them in private groups, but you can do it on Linkedin, Twitter or your blog.
Actually, sharing some of your notes provides your feedback, it saves time as we can point to that whenever someone asks us about that and motivates you when they are useful for others.