What are the 5 most important things you have learned this week?
Had you asked me this question a month ago, I would not have been able to answer. I would have stuttered aimlessly (trying to ransack my brain for what I have even done this week) and perhaps responded with a meek answer 2 minutes later.
What’s even more embarrassing is that I listen to educational books and podcasts 10+ hours a week! I was proud of how much time I spent educating myself. And yet, I couldn’t tell you what I was learning.
That was until I started writing my learnings down.
Before, I could recall at most three new things I had learned per week.
Now, I can easily recall 15 new learnings per week.
Before, I had to relisten to the same content 2-3 times before it stuck in my head.
Now, I listen to it once and it sticks immediately.
Before, I seldom drew parallels between ideas from different areas.
Now, because I have to reflect on what I’m writing down, I see parallels between several areas.
I have heard countless people preach the value of writing things down. But it was only when I have started doing it myself I realized how right they were. Now, I am never going back to my old ways again! If I learn something new, gain an important insight, or come up with an idea, it’s going down in writing immediately.
You can take your notes in any way you want. The right note-taking system is whichever works best for you. The only rule is that the system must be simple to use and allow you to take notes at any time and place. Otherwise, you are not going to stick with it.
The note-taking system that ended up working for me was Notion.so. Notion is a super-flexible app that lets you create all kinds of blocks – toggle lists, nested pages, to-do lists, tables, columns, etc – and you can design the interface exactly as you want.
I have created a separate main page for all different kinds of information I want to capture – research for work, learnings from podcasts, random ideas, etc. If I then need a sub-category, I add a new page within that first page. And if I only want to see the main points and not be bogged down with all the details, I create a toggle list that let’s me add details in a hidden section that is visible only when I click on the toggle.
I have now been using Notion for several weeks, and I couldn’t be happier. It is so simple to use. It let’s me organize my thoughts exactly as I want them. And the difference in how much I learn now compared to before is like night and day. (Plus, if you are a student the personal pro plan is free!)
I hope I have made my point clear at this point:
If you don’t want to waste your time, write your learnings down.
If you wish to have a sharper mind, write your learnings down.
If you are serious about improving your life, write your learnings down.
You won’t realize what a game changer this habit is until you start doing it yourself.