Personal Note Taking Practice

Knowledge work processes should be accretive (rather than ephemeral or ad-hoc). For note-taking, adding new notes should make other notes more useful and the accumulated knowledge should lead to new connections and thereby new ideas.

I use a Zettelkasten-like system (org-roam) where notes are short and atomic, densely linked bi-directionally, and reviewed often to add more connections. Over time I hope this becomes a useful thought partner, helping me make new connections and formulate useful ideas.

Tags provide light organization without imposing a strict hierarchy e.g. index for how I might want to retrieve this note in the future not a taxonomy.

Certain tags have special meaning:

  • (draft) indicates a note that isn’t complete and not ready to publish
  • (private) should not be included in public notes
  • (journal) my reactions and feelings which can provide more context to how I was thinking about certain notes

Notes are published (except when tagged as private or draft) to Care is put into making the notes pleasing for me to read and invite exploration of links and backlinks. It also adds a useful friction that forces me to understand what I’m writing better since it’s public.

As an interesting side-effect of using git for version control, when I publish new notes the git diff gives a good indication of how many new connections I’ve made with each new note added (untracked files to unstaged modified files).