Published on Jul 09, 2024

Digital note-taking is broken (5 ways you can fix it)

Step-by-Step Guide:


How to Improve Your Digital Note-Taking Process

Step 1: Understand the Tradeoffs

  • Recognize that faster and more efficient technology doesn't always equal more productivity.
  • Every technology comes with tradeoffs.
  • Digital note-taking apps offer quick capture and automation but can lead to a higher quantity of lower quality notes.

Step 2: Develop Selection Criteria

  • To become a synthesizer and a value creator, focus on developing the skill of selection.
  • Establish selection criteria to guide your curiosity and generate creative outputs.
  • Avoid best-selling books and conventional wisdom. Look for rare and novel ideas.
  • Don't write notes on information easily found through a Google search.
  • Select high-quality inputs to generate higher-quality outputs.

Step 3: Filter Your Inputs

  • Use individual notes instead of fleeting notes for better knowledge development.
  • Capture fleeting notes in a separate location and review them periodically to decide if they should become main notes.
  • Implement a process to decrease unprocessed notes in your system.

Step 4: Utilize the Source Note Method

  • Use physical note cards with handwritten notes to slow down your thinking and be more intentional.
  • Write page numbers and quick jots of keywords or phrases on note cards.
  • Underline key words or phrases to develop into main notes later.
  • Handwriting your notes can improve memory retention and comprehension.

Step 5: Collect Quotes Mindfully

  • Avoid copying and pasting quotes; instead, write them down by hand.
  • Reformulate quotes into your own words and add value with your context.
  • Use a reference manager like Zotero to keep track of your original sources and page numbers.

Step 6: Experiment and Find What Works for You

  • Try out different criteria and methods to see what improves your note-taking process.
  • Keep in mind the tradeoff between friction and note quality.
  • Aim for higher quality notes with less quantity by carefully selecting and filtering your inputs.

By following these steps and implementing the suggested criteria, you can enhance your digital note-taking experience, making it more enjoyable and rewarding. Remember that the goal is to generate creative outputs and valuable insights from your notes.