How to Take Smart Notes

Sönke Ahrens

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Highlights from July 26, 2021

  • Writing plays such a central role in learning, studying and research that it is surprising how little we think about it. (Location 119)
  • they ignore the main part, namely note-taking, failing to understand that improving the organisation of all writing makes a difference. (Location 128)
  • The quality of a paper and the ease with which it is written depends more than anything on what you have done in writing before you even made a decision on the topic. (Location 158)
  • A good structure is something you can trust. (Location 191)
  • Good students, on the other hand, constantly raise the bar for themselves as they focus on what they haven’t learned and mastered yet. This is why high achievers who have had a taste of the vast amount of knowledge out there are likely to suffer from what psychologists call imposter syndrome, the feeling that you are not really up to the job, even though, of all people, they are (Clance and Imes 1978; Brems et al. 1994). (Location 235)
  • There is no need to build a complex system and there is no need to reorganise everything you already have. You can start working and developing ideas immediately by taking smart notes. (Location 243)
  • Studying does not prepare students for independent research. It is independent research. (Location 702)
  • Nobody starts from scratch and everybody is already able to think for themselves. (Location 703)
  • There is no such thing as private knowledge in academia. An idea kept private is as good as one you never had. (Location 705)
  • In the old system, the question is: Under which topic do I store this note? In the new system, the question is: In which context will I want to stumble upon it again? (Location 787)
  • The slip-box is designed to present you with ideas you have already forgotten, allowing your brain to focus on thinking instead of remembering. (Location 797)
  • Trying to multitask fatigues us and decreases our ability to deal with more than one task. (Location 1104)
  • We unfortunately tend to confuse familiarity with skill. (Location 1108)
  • The good news is that we can train ourselves to stay focused on one thing for longer if we avoid multitasking, remove possible distractions and separate different kinds of tasks as much as possible so they will not interfere with each other. (Location 1128)
  • Don’t make plans. Become an expert. (Location 1195)
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