Processing old notes
Trying to adopt the zettelkasten method has opened my eyes to how useless some of my old practices were.
My past method was to:
1) Read a book, usually on Kindle, highlighting things that I thought were interesting or relevant.
2) Go through the book again, taking notes on highlighted sections. (I found that this sometimes led to me nearly re-reading the whole book again to get the context behind the highlight.)
3) Transcribe notes into a notetaking app for long-term, effectively cold storage. Maybe use some tags but they were inconsistent.
4) Later, rely on my memory to cue that I had notes on something (which was actually not terrible), review the notes, realize I couldn't understand what I was saying, and either give up or go back to the book.
There were a few big issues here:
- The notes were taken for the me in the moment of reading the book, not for me in the future. Sometimes I'd have recorded something because it was very pertinent to something on my mind then, but not now.
- Too much time between highlighting and taking the notes. I now have lots of highlights but they're difficult to comprehend without looking at the book again.
- Kindle highlights were good for books that I purchased from Amazon, but not so good for books that I bought elsewhere (e.g. direct from a publisher). Navigating through highlights on the actual kindle is slow and aggravating. It's better on the desktop app, but that wouldn't "see" notes I had taken on books not purchased through Amazon. (If there's a way to do that, please tell me)
I can course-correct my future workflow for this. In the meantime, I have hundreds of pages of notes I now need to go through and evaluate. So I'm curious: for those of you who adopted zettelkasten after taking notes with other methods, how did you handle it? Did you bother going back at all, or wait to see if you actually needed that information again?
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