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Smart Note Taking

Last updated May 17, 2024

Why is this important? Because without the smart, you’ll add more clutter to your system, leading to minor organization and more stress.

For your mind to relax, you need to let go of things in your head. Best to release them in an external system. I usually let off my thoughts by dumping them all into a blank file in my text editor of choice. Doing this is more the Journaling approach to the note-taking journey. The other is general note-taking.

One principle I strongly agree with from the book How to Take Smart Notes (Sönke Ahrens) by Sönke Ahrens is that writing is not the outcome of thinking; it is the medium in which thought occurs.

When you write about an idea or a blog post, the goal is not to start from a blank paper or a file, which leads to more procrastination. So what’s the alternative? With Smart Note Taking, you write smaller notes and start connecting them in your Second Brain. Instead of brainstorming, you connect thoughts and naturally generate new ideas.

In life, no projects arrive in sequence. It’s easier to work on multiple projects and ideas simultaneously because you write the current state of thought. Next time you can continue at the exact spot you left. No dread to forget the latest. You have personal responsibilities you need to take care of, work, family related. All of which have their project and thoughts.

Another important aspect is that your brain will not rest until a task is finished. As we can’t complete all tasks on the spot, it helps that it does not distinguish between finished or written down. Therefore writing things down lets your mind and yourself rest, which is what Getting Things Done (GTD) focuses on.

When taking notes, it’s essential to stay open and even seek opposing opinions and challenge what you already know. Through that curiosity, you will get better at writing and, therefore, thinking.

Recall seven random numbers is hard. It’s much easier if numbers are connected by years, such as all football World Cup events. That’s why we connect the notes when we take smart notes and bring them to the next level with the Zettelkasten Method.

Nick Milo calls it note making instead of taking to emphasize the thinking part of just capturing notes.

There is so much more to smart note-taking. I suggest either reading the  book by Sönke or, if in a hurry, the summary by Tiago Forte  here.

Writing is Thinking
Remember: Writing is thinking. Without writing, there is no thinking, no progress. The more you write, the more notes you take, and the better of a thinker you become. You’ll read better with better questions in your mind.

A nice example of how to continuously take notes with Obsidian by Nicole van der Hoeven on YouTube and using it as a Second Brain.

# The Bad and Good Notetaking

Bad notetaking:

Good notetaking:

From Tiago Forte on LinkedIn:

Created 2022-08-27