I’m not happy with yesterday’s note so I’m giving it another go with more love and attention. I knew I wanted to write about note taking yesterday so I simply wrote. I didn’t think. I realised I had flailed around so I pushed “print” anyway. For a note about note taking, where the underpinning goal is to write better, this was a sub-par effort, providing plenty to learn from.

The Quantum Garden is a way for me to develop my thinking publicly, and to share knowledge with others. Both designed to help prompt others with their own learning.

I have a capable system in Obsidian for collecting notes. In the whole there is a moderate level of organisation/categorisation, backed by a fast search function, and a graphical view /plugins that aid in finding disconnected notes.

My writing usually comes from memory. I will link to existing notes but do so only if I think of them. I don’t let my notes, and the combinational creativity insights from the connections between them drive my writing. It feels arse-about and even if it isn’t, I’m not making use of the valuable written asset I have put so many hundreds of hours into.

Note taking works best when as frictionless as possible. There are places in my system where I have too much friction and places where there is too little friction.

Too much friction when watching a video - I pull back from taking any type of note. It could be a reluctance to pause and pull out the main idea, compounded by watching on the couch or in bed (neither conducive to note taking on a laptop). I am often writing on the device I am wanting to take notes on. The cognitive shift stops me before I start. I will organise a simple notebook to side beside me and I can digitise notes later (transferring notes doesn’t phase me as I have many years of Getting Things Done inbox handling behind me).

Too much friction when listening to podcast - Similar to video yet different. I can take audio notes on my Apple Watch easily enough but that only defers the problem by giving me something else to listen to on the same device. A notebook again.

Too much friction when reading ebooks - I upgraded my Kindle Paperwhite to a Kindle Oasis for the speed. Entering notes is still a real pain in the arse so I can tend to short notes, or worse, highlights alone. Getting notes from the Kindle into Obsidian is also troublesome. There is a partial solution for Amazon purchased books, and not even a partially workable solution for non-Amazon books. I now have 👍👍👍 votes for a notebook.

Too little friction reading articles - My preferred newsletter and RSS Feed reading tool allows me to take notes and import them into Obsidian. When I am disciplined I add notes in Markdown format, even using to link to notes in advance. Each time I start Obsidian the plugin pulls in all archived articles and the links connect like magic. For an estimated 40% of archived articles I haven’t take notes. “I’ll go back to it and use it later.” A simple application of The NoMa Method, even if it is an article summary on why I found it interesting will go a long way to bringing my content together. When I can’t make even a summary, I should not be keeping the article.

Omnivore as a RSS reader

Omnivore is not the best RSS reader out there. Some clunkiness remains despite the improvements to date. The benefit is in combining newsletters and RSS feeds together. They are fundamentally the same thing with different delivery technologies. For this reason of combination and a common way of ingesting into Obsidian I’m staying with it.

My Literature Notes process would benefit from improvement. The quality of my original notes is likely the biggest hindrance to success here. I think I’ll read Ahrens (2017) — How to Take Smart Notes again. I also have to find a video that explains how to approach Plato. I’m reading it, yet not getting past the language. During a contemplative walk last week I wondered if it’s akin to Shakespeare - once you have the flow of the language, comprehension follows.

In summary, I have identified the friction points in my current note taking workflow and with the aid of a simple notebook will be able to get past most of them. Discipline is required to take notes across all of my inputs (video, podcasts, books, articles).

And, I’m pleased to say I’m much happier with this than yesterday’s effort.