Someone recently asked me for note-taking advice via DM, and I’m still thinking about what I told them because I think I accidentally stumbled upon a simple formulation that makes a lot of sense to me
Start with one notepad file, or one paper journal, whatever. Don’t think about topics, don’t think about how you’re going to sort it, what the sub-folders should be, etc. Just start dumping all your thoughts. Use line breaks, make it “chunky” (as opposed to long paragraphs)
Keep going until you *begin to feel overwhelmed*. Now pause. Your notepad file is now full of many discrete (as opposed to continuous) points, too many for you to remember or make sense of at a glance. Great! Now it’s time to sort.
You now want to look for connections *between* nodes. Resist the urge to impose some sort of top-down grand scheme. Instead, look for related ideas, riffs, “things that go together”. “Siblings”. Here’s an eg of how I’m doing this retroactively on my blog
You see what’s happening? Dozens (100s if you nasty like me) of “atoms” start to coalesce into a smaller handful of “molecules”. You no longer need to consider and recall every single thing. You just need to remember the core molecules, and recognize “what goes with what”
The map of connections will actually reveal new insights to you. You’ll notice some molecules are larger or heavier or higher-value than others. I recommend framing each molecule a sort of “expedition”, or “line of inquiry”. Each becomes a sort of investigation with related clues
I fell into a silly-ish trap a while ago where I went a little crazy and started creating too many blogpost drafts, too many new notes, too many folders - and it became a hell to navigate. On retrospect it becomes clear: only “split” notes when it really makes sense to!!
I’m reminded of an @elonmusk quote from a reddit AMA. In this frame, the mistake I used to make was collecting lots of leaves - bags and bags full of leaves - with no branches to hang them onto. It’s the tree that really matters
The cool thing though is that you can actually use a collection of leaves to discern the tree or graph structure underlying them. That’s the game. Once you develop a clear sense of what your tree is, then it becomes relatively trivial to sort all new information onto the tree
(Sometimes new info will have you reconsidering the tree structure altogether, but that’s part of the fun. You only get to really play that game though once you’re no longer overwhelmed by all the notes, information, all the bookmarks & links and data. Figure out the tree first)
You can check out the tree of my twitter threads here. It’s not perfect, and I might mess around with the branches, but conceiving of the web structure of my threads of threads this way actually makes it quite simple for me to know how to add new things
There are a bunch of other little things I’ve learned from managing this monster web of tweets (and @1000wordvomits)

The general principle I think is that you should try to frame everything in terms that aid future recall/recognition
- Try to say one thing at a time. Two sentences are better than one complicated one

- try to give each thing a “backbone”, a core vector that other things can be defined in relation to

It’s the relationships between things that really matter in the end, not a big list of things
I revisited these thoughts while journaling (on paper - rekindling the habit) and I have some thoughts about that too, but I really gotta get to bed. Will write a separate blogpost or thread about that, maybe
In practice:
You can follow @visakanv.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

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