Taking notes



Farnham Street Note-taking tips

At the end of each chapter write a few bullet points that summarize what you’ve read and make it personal if you can — that is, apply it to something in your life. Also, note any unanswered questions. When you’re done the book, put it down for a week.

Pick up the book again and go through all your notes. Most of these will be garbage but there will be lots you want to remember. Write the good stuff on the inside cover of the book along with a page number.

Copy out the excerpts by hand or take a picture of them to pop into [archive]. Tag accordingly.

Revisiting notes

But, really, it doesn’t matter how your [reading/note-taking] system works. It only matters that you have a system. Why? So that you can have a catalog of ideas that you can revisit. Parrish organizes his blank sheets by putting them into topic binders [...], and then sits down to look at his binders about once every two months. Over time, he finds himself remembering things and making connections he may not have otherwise, mastering these various subjects.

“Not only do you understand the book at a different level, but you're writing it down. It's tangible. Instead of rereading all these books, you can just pick up this binder. ‘Oh, this is great. I want to go back to this story. Maybe I missed something [here].’ You're connecting things across different domains or different situations. That's effectively how we improve our thinking.”

Zettelkasten for notes

In regular note-taking, connections between ideas are not made by default. When reviewing a note, other relevant notes (i.e., ideas) don’t present themselves.


The key is to make connections between ideas during note-taking, way before you need to review them for your work. This forces you to actively connect the dots (during note-taking) and lets you find relevant ideas with ease in future.