Your note-taking system will never be as valuable as just the act of note-taking itself.
Whether you subscribe to Zettelkasten or PARA or GTD or something in between, the emphasis in the productivity & PKM space is usually on the systems of storage.
And why not? There is a huge amount of information that we are wrangling everyday and we don't want to miss out on any of it. Let alone lose it in a sea of information in years to come.
But what if we are missing the whole point?
What if note-taking isn't about long term storage of notes. What if it is about the act of note-taking itself? Here's what happens when you take notes:
Note-Taking is a forcing function to think. We are surrounded by so much information to consume that we rarely often stop and think. What do I really think about this? What do I really believe? Note-taking forces you to stop and think.
Note-Taking gives you boundaries to 'think in.' It's quite hard to just sit and think on command. Usually our brain goes in a million different directions & it ends up not being useful at all. But note-taking focuses your thinking sessions. It provides the boundaries for you to 'think in.'
Note-Taking IS the work. You sound so much more articulate in your head. But when you are forced to start writing about what you think you know you realise all the gaps. It forces you to think through what you maybe missed in your head.
So next time you are obsessing over the shiny new note-taking system and where exactly to file a note away somewhere, just relax and know that the work has been done if you've taken the act of writing notes.
If all else fails - just take notes.
Posted as a Daily Essay on 31st March 2022 in Knowledge Management