I'm forever taking notes. Just the other day, Mrs L asked that killer question.
"What do you do with them all?"
So - here's my process. (I think I lost her in seconds.)
I work at my desk with an A5-ish notebook at my left hand. This used to be a bullet journal, but now works as a semi-organised stream of consciousness. If something comes up or occurs to me, I capture it here.
I also have a bunch of index cards on my desk. If I'm working on a project in the notebook, but then need to note something on a different subject, I might reach for a notecard. Why? Search me. But I do.
Out and about, remember that? I will, at a minimum, have a notecard or two, or a pocket notebook. It has not escaped my notice that I am also frequently close to one or more very clever electronic devices. I sometimes capture notes in these things too. Favoured applications are Drafts, Apple Notes or Actions. Increasingly, I put things into Actions by Moleskine. Why? It's pretty.
Reading. I read a lot. Mostly on Kindle. I have been training myself to highlight interesting passages. These highlights are picked up and stored by a service called Readwise, and then automatically deposited into Obsidian.
Phew! Still with me? That's it for capture, I think.
Friday, my daily theme is "Think". So, every Friday, I take everything that I've captured that week and filter it. I stole this idea from Mike Schmitz of Blanc Media, Bookworm and The Focused podcast. I transcribe or copy/paste things that I want to preserve into Obsidian. I use this app as both a repository and a workbench. I read through my notes, and see how they link to things that I have been considering. I expand the notes, develop my thoughts a bit. Don't get me wrong - many of my notes never get off the index card or page. My shopping list is hardly ever worth preserving. Broadly, I keep 20-25% of the notes that I have taken.
Each week, I review everything in Obsidian. I don't systematically reread every word, but I meander. I move from folder to folder re-exploring my thoughts from previous visits.
Ultimately, Obsidian notes are their own output. They become clearer as I work on them. However - many of them are records of my own exploration. They might be for something very concrete, like research for a book, or for my studies. Equally, they develop my thoughts on some of the things that I discuss here on the blog.
My process begins analogue, and finishes digital. I could go even more analogue - and adopt Zettelkasten, keeping everything on index cards. Be sure that I've considered it. Beautiful walnut slip cases, rammed full of intelligent, diligent notes, neatly cross-referenced; what's not to love? It's right up my alley. However - the entire system then becomes fixed in one location, and not backed up. I could scan everything into an app - Devonthink comes to mind, but for the moment at least, I'm happy to slide into the digital once notes are captured and curated.
Now - will I be able to convince myself to throw those notebooks away? I'm working on it. Honest.
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