A friend recently told me he never takes notes (!). I was surprised. I don't expect everyone to take notes, but this particular friend is also a member of the likes-to-study-things camp. If you study things you take notes, right?
That's it. Two points. Want more detail? Here we go.
This one is pretty obvious so I'll just point out one particular nuance I've found beneficial—notes created by your past self are extremely well tailored to your way of thinking.
Reviewing old notes can be like having the worlds best tutor, because the author new your brain better than anyone else.
Your own notes work much than reviewing whatever material helped you create your notes in the past.
This is the big on. The primary reason I advocate note taking. I myself don't go back and read past notes very often, but the fact that I took them adds to my retention of any topic.
If you don't believe me just try it for yourself. In some area you're currently studying try taking notes for a week.
So that covers the "why," now let's get into "how."
It's important to distinguish different types of note taking. In my life there are currently these two kinds.
This is classic note taking. You learn something and write something down about it.
Reference material is anything you might want to reference in the future. Examples:
These can be anything, but what separates spontaneous musings from reference material is that they aren't meant to be referenced. You write something down and forget about it. Maybe you review it, maybe you don't.
I'll repeat that since "musings" might not be clear on its own: This type of note is not meant to be reviewed later. It can be, but there's no expectation.
So how do I personally put this into practice? I use two apps:
That's all. Go take some notes!
I write about life as well as my mistakes and successes as I learn to build a business. I'm building a self-funded startup (Pairwise).