In How to Take Smart Notes, author Sönke Ahrens makes the case that note-taking is not just for capturing information but for clarifying and generating thoughts. Ahrens provides insights and techniques to use notes as a tool to truly enhance learning.
The book in three sentences
- The book outlines slip-boxing, a note-taking workflow where you store condensed literature notes and your own permanent notes all in one central place.
- This linked system boosts learning by helping you synthesize ideas across sources, capture fleeting thoughts, and develop concepts through writing.
- Author Sönke Ahrens makes the case that taking quality notes promotes thinking and creativity rather than just capturing information.
For those seeking to optimize their learning and research efficiency through writing, How to Take Smart Notes is an indispensable guide. The techniques offer a simple yet transformative approach to enhancing thought through effective note-taking practices. It provides clarity on how to distill meaningful concepts both from sources and your own mind.
Ahrens introduces an effective note-taking framework based on slip-boxing, where you store notes in a central place to connect ideas over time. This system boosts creativity by linking notes, saving context, and developing ideas in writing. The focus is not on the quantity of notes but on quality.
Ahrens advocates for slip-boxing, based on ideas by Niklas Luhmann. In this system, you take literature notes on source material, then develop your own fleeting ideas and permanent notes to store in a centralized slip-box. By linking thoughts across notes, you derive key insights and concepts from sources.
The book outlines methods for distilling what you read into your own words and connecting it to other ideas. Ahrens recommends writing notes by hand to better retain information. He provides templates for different types of notes and strategies for relating notes for synthesizing concepts.
The slip-box system promotes developing, rather than just recording, your ideas via writing. It provides your brain with external scaffolding to enhance creativity and learning. Ahrens believes this workflow leads to meaningful connections between disciplines.
Who Should Read
How to Take Smart Notes is ideal for students striving to improve their learning methods and anyone undertaking academic writing or research projects. It provides a roadmap to streamline reading, thinking, and writing.
- Effective note-taking aids thinking and clarity rather than just capturing information.
- A centralized and linked slip-box allows you to synthesize ideas over time.
- Writing notes helps flesh out vague thoughts into concrete concepts.
- Literature notes, permanent notes, and fleeting thoughts are key components.
About the Author
Sönke Ahrens is a writer, speaker, and researcher focusing on introducing slip-boxing and other productivity techniques to students and academics.