Lately I have been doing a lot of experimenting in how I take notes. The impetus behind this came when I went back to review some old notes and I realized that I could not read them without putting in a ton of effort to decipher them – they might as well have been the Rosetta Stone. All flippancy aside, my previous note taking efforts have been a colossal waste of time. And make no mistake, the further I progress in my philosophy studies the more important a workable stem for taking notes becomes.
Obviously, if I cannot read my hand writing then typing them out on a computer is in order. However, I have been resisting this idea for a long time since I believe I spend way too much time in front of a computer as it is. Besides I enjoy writing by hand. I had hoped that I would be able to put all my material on index cards much like Ryan Holiday has recommended. Alas, it was not be. I got bogged down on a philosophy paper, taking notes by hand, and fell way behind. So I broke down and started taking notes on the computer.
The results surprised me. First of all, I found that I enjoyed the process. Even though I enjoy writing by hand, copying passages by hand can be very tedious and I discovered myself procrastinating when it came to sit down and work which is one of the reasons I fell behind in the first place. Since I can type fairly fast processing the material went by quicker and it often generated a flow state and a feeling of satisfaction which is critical if you are trying to inculcate a new habit. Secondly, it solved the problem of how to render passages that are italicized or bolded which I think is important if you are going to transcribe accurate quotes.
Overall, I’ve been satisfied with the changes though my decision was bolstered by some note taking recommendations I’ve run across since going over to the dark..I mean digital side. Here are two good pieces worth reading in this regard.