Conceptual Notetaking

I got started doing this in September 2021. This is the only video I would recommend to anyone getting started with this: How to achieve more while studying less My notes visualized as of 2022-12-21.

When I came to university in September 2021, I decided to rethink my tools in an attempt to learn better and faster. I believe that the benefits of great tools compound over time. I’ve been a huge self-learner for years. A lot of the topics I was interested in back in high school, mostly related to programming, were not offered in my curriculum, so I had to teach myself.

I was thus searching for a better notetaking system when I stumbled upon this idea of Conceptual Notetaking.

There is this great video that you should watch which explains the philosophy of conceptual notetaking much better than I do, but in summary, it’s this idea that the world is not structured by disciplines; it is just an amalgamation of different things together.

To learn is to understand how different concepts are linked together.

Why do we take notes? To remember what we wrote in the first place.

There are 2 pain points with traditional notetaking:

  1. I realized that the notes I took are never referenced again (like after you finish a course)
    • For instance, in high school, I learned a lot about different religions, but I threw all of those notes away. Now, I barely remember anything about these religions, so I need to waste a lot of time relearning.
  2. It is really hard to find exact note you are looking for

Using a tool like Obsidian will help you find Serendipity in ways that really surprise you.

Some final tips on Notetaking

  • Don’t worry if you have a very messy notes for something conceptually. The first time you write your note doesn’t have to be clean. Just look at most of my notes
  • The more you reference a note, the more you are going to modify it, and so the more polished it needs to be. Just like how your brain works. The more you access a particular information, the stronger the connections to it in your brain
  • Try not to turn Obsidian into a sort of Wikipedia.
  • How small / big a note should be? Go by feel, I don’t like to have a huge note. For me, when it gets too long, I break it down into an even smaller concepts

But Steven, I don't have time to write all these notes...

This is all just Compound Effect. I didn’t build this second brain overnight. Do a little every day, and you’d be surprised how much knowledge you’ll store. Set your ego aside. We all started from 0. Maintain Day 1 Mindset.

But if you stay Consistent and trust the process, you will go a long way :))

I am big on the idea of ”What gets measured gets managed”. Here’s some of the other Tools I use (nothing too fancy).

Fun Thoughts

“Concepts are linked via knowledge, and people are linked via experiences.” - From Erica Xu, Co-Founder of Obsidian