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Don't Just Take Notes, Make Notes
From passive to active note-taking
I started my journey in Personal Knowledge Management as a hoarder. Gathering notes and ideas from every corner. Creating an intellectual pile of ideas that would get buried one under the other.
I believe everyone starts that way. Because that’s what we’re traditionally taught to do.
Note-taking is a buzzword in the world of productivity and learning today. And it's important to take notes in the chaotic world we live in.
But most people take notes the wrong way. If you are merely recording information in the form of notes, it’s time for a paradigm shift.
The process is not about the accumulation of notes, but rather the creation of knowledge. It’s not about hoarding information.
The act of taking notes should evolve into the art of making notes.
Making notes is the true essence of note-taking. It goes beyond the surface-level act of jotting down ideas.
You need to dispel the notion that note-taking is about idea accumulation. It’s not. The core idea lies in synthesis.
Note-making is about actively dissecting, digesting, and rearranging ideas in a manner that mirrors your personal understanding and perspective. It’s about turning passive intake into active creation.
The primary goal of making notes is to blend and merge ideas, and spark imagination and creativity.
It’s about distilling what you read and finding a way to weave it into your personal or professional life. To reshape it so that it becomes a tool, a resource for use in your life.
The Most Important Skill
The common pitfall most people fall under is treating all information as same. And this error gets magnified with so much amount of information available online.
Remember, not all information is worth consuming.
Just like a poor diet, consuming too much low-quality information can drain your energy and cloud your focus. In the same way that healthy food fuels your body, high-quality information propels you forward in life. On the contrary, consuming low-quality information can slow your progress and deviate you from your goals.
It’s essential to learn to distinguish gold from garbage and be mindful of your consumption habits.
The emphasis should always be on the quality of the information you consume, not the quantity.
How to Make Notes
Selective Consumption: As discussed previously, you have to learn to separate gold from garbage. Information overload can be detrimental. It can overtax your brain, leaving no room for relaxation or reflection. Choose only the best ideas and information for consumption.
Capture System: The process of capturing ideas should be seamless. It should be as frictionless as possible. Streamline your process to make it quick and efficient.
Visit your notes: Once you have captured your notes, make a habit to process those notes. This ensures that you maintain the context and connection with the original ideas.
Make atomic notes: Atomic notes is an idea of containing one idea in a note. The note is centered around a single idea. This makes it easier to comprehend the idea as well as to link it to other ideas.
Add Personal touch: Add personal insights, questions, and reflection to your notes. This not only makes your notes more engaging but also enhances comprehension and retention.
Connect and link different notes: See the different possible connections between notes. Explore and map out the relationships.
Note-making is much more than a passive process of gathering information. It’s not about simply jotting down points or accumulating information. It’s a dynamic, interactive exercise that demands your understanding, interpretation, and creativity.
You don’t just take notes. You don’t just hoard information. You understand, digest and reproduce the information in a way that makes it personal.