note taking

Someone recently asked how I take notes and what do I do when I’m done with them.

While reading…

As I read, I physically write out notes. There is not a strict method here, just use some guiding questions:

When I'm listening to a podcast, I do the same thing by dictating into a notes app.

I pay attention to information that does a better job explaining observations I have made. A recent example that I can think of is how to think about incentives and performance, Charlie Munger, Seth Godin, and Naval Ravikant all have things to say about incentives and specifically the agent-owner dynamic. When I’m in the 3rd step of this process, I might ask, how do they disagree? Where is there consensus? What domains does their information come from?

(2)A few times a week I look through this notebook and type them up and (3) think about how they relate to other information I've decided to store. If the notes I've taken are important enough to be stored they go in my software which is Obsidian. In Obsidian, I write out where the notes came from and make connections to other notes if there are any. When I've filled out the notebook and determined which notes to store, it goes in the trash.

There are other pieces as well. Like, if I'm taking notes on a book, I try to find the table of contents and organize everything in there before they go into permanent storage, but I don't know how much that affects this process. I could also say which pen I use and what kind of notebook I use, but again, I don't think those are integral.

This is all just an experiment.


One thing I'm planning on doing but haven't yet is looking for orphan notes and deciding what to do with them. Why did I decide they were important? Are they still? Should I pursue that topic more?

The whole point of this is when I'm reading a new book or writing, I have already done the work of making connections between information.