RPS #57 — On Taking Smart Notes

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In this episode, we talk about the joy of reading, note taking, Roam Research vs. Notion, and applying note taking techniques to writing and idea creation.


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Time Stamps

01:42 Relearning the Joy of Reading
02:17 How to Take Smart Notes
04:39 Trying Roam Research (Again)
06:53 Roam Research vs. Notion
09:44 Applying Smart Note to My Book Project
14:17 Smart Notes for Idea Creation


Hello, and welcome to the redeeming productivity show. This is the podcast that helps Christians get more done, and get it done like Christians. And I’m your host, Reagan Rose.

Well, I am on vacation this week in Florida with my family. So if you hear some background noise, that’s probably my son screaming, or my wife cooking dinner right now, we’re having fish tacos.

So this episode, I’m going to do kind of a little bit more of what my friend Daryl Harrison calls a freestyle episode. And basically, I’m just going to be talking about a few things that I’ve been thinking about learning and reading about that have application to personal productivity. And it’s not super structured, it’s not super outlined. But hopefully, it’ll be super fun. I just didn’t want to go two weeks without giving you guys an episode. So here we are, we’re gonna be talking about

I guess we’ll be talking really about note taking, which I know I’ve talked about a lot with my interview with Matthew everhard. And some of the other episodes. In recent history, we’re talking about the Citadel, Kazakhstan, you know, and and knowledge management systems. But it’s something I just keep digging deeper and deeper into. And the more I think about it, the more I think that if if we could kind of come up with a better way to organize our thinking, organize our notes. And as we’re reading and stuff, and I think it’s a worthy endeavor, to try to find a good better way of taking notes. In fact, if you haven’t seen the blog post I posted last week on relearning the joy of reading, you should check that out I in that I talk a little bit about how one of the things that’s helped me regained kind of a love for reading, in recent days, has been

trying to get better at taking notes and retaining what I’m reading in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the reading process, but actually, helps make it a bit more fun, actually. And so, as I’ve been thinking about that, and trying to get better at that, I bought a book that I’d been hearing a lot about, called How to take smart notes, by some K, Aaron’s and this is a great, great read, if you have any interest at all in research and writing or any of that kind of stuff. This is a book that is worth your time checking out. It’s called How to take smart notes. And I have been

implementing already. And in fact, kind of ironically, a little Inception wise, I’ve been implementing some of the ways of taking notes that the book talks about, as I’m reading the book. So in the notes on the book, but basically, what how to take smart notes is about is it’s about writing and thinking and the fact that those processes can be improved through a more organized note taking system. And they kind of flip the the traditional idea of how you would go about writing something on its head. So instead of what we’re kind of taught in school of starting

by starting writing a project based on choosing a topic, and then going and finding all the resources, you know, and then doing all your research and then writing on that topic. Basically, the goal of this smart note taking system is that you have already written about a bunch of different things as as you’ve read, and as you’ve thought about those things. And you’ve just organized those into a system. And then when a writing assignment comes up, or an idea for maybe a blog post or my case, like a podcast episode, or even a book, something like that comes up, then what you’re doing is you’re basically pulling together things you’ve already written on, and it becomes more of an editing job. And it’s actually really fascinating way of going about it. And as I mentioned in a previous episode, the Zettelkastan method, that’s basically what this book is about. So definitely worth checking out. And it’s it’s just an interesting approach to note taking. And so I’ve been trying to do that, as I haven’t read that book. I’ve been trying to do that with some of the articles I’ve been reading and trying to get better at that. And in that vein,

I have taken another swing at the software program roam research, and I’ve actually heard from a number of you who have asked me if I like Chrome or if I’ve tried using it or all that and I I am more convinced now than I was maybe a month or two ago when I first mentioned it

Roam if You don’t know what it is, it’s a basically an approach to it’s a software program, a subscription that has a really interesting way of taking notes in it. And when you first use it, it can be pretty daunting. Because it’s not like a traditional thing where you just have pages and pages of individual notes. Now they’re all cross reference to each other, every little block, every paragraph, every bullet point sort of thing is cross referenced. And it has a bunch of other more powerful features to where anything could be a to do list item, anything could be all these different types of content.

And it’s, like I said, it’s a little bit daunting. So I have committed myself to giving it another month, and really pouring myself into trying to use Rome research to organize my note taking. And so this can be everything from my daily journal is in here, too, as I’m reading articles, and I want to take notes on them.

That those come from Instapaper, where I save my articles, or even like I mentioned, book notes, everything goes in here. Any ideas I have, for a blog post, any ideas I have about this would be a cool thing to write on. I’m just dumping them in here, trying to cross reference them with other things and build out this sort of knowledge management system, and see if it actually bears fruit for me. Now, I talk about software and systems on here a lot. And a lot of you guys if you’ve been listening for a while know that I am a huge fan of notion, notion n o t IO n. And I have really put my life into notion over the last year or so. And so much so that that is probably the biggest barrier I have right now to trying to switch things over to using Rome research for note taking and knowledge management.

So the question I think is going to be a win win, do I put something to notion when do I put it in research, because I don’t think Rome can actually replace everything that notion can do in some kind of experimenting with that. But here’s, here’s kind of my working hypothesis right now. So if you if you’re still with me, on this kind of much more nerding out episode of the podcast, here, here’s my kind of grid for how I’m thinking I’ll use notion and research together. I think that I’ll be using Rome research for note taking, and knowledge management. So as I’m, like I said, if I’m reading a book, all my highlights are getting dumped into there, I’m taking I’m summarizing chapters of the book, I if I have an idea for I just want to write on the same I’m reading first john, and I’m like, hey, I want to write some insights. I’m thinking about how Dec could apply this in life. And I don’t know, is that going to be a blog post someday? Is that gonna be part of a book? I have no idea. I’m just gonna dump it all in there. But I’m gonna keep using notion for project management, which is primarily most days what I’m using it for. And that is kind of deciding on what, what episodes of the podcast am I going to do next? If I’m doing a video, what things do I need to do to shoot that? A lot of things like that, that I just feel like it’s better at because of its table system. And it’s like databases, and that you can do can ban boards in there. I know you can do them in Rome and the Rome, people are gonna get mad at me for saying this. But I just I think it’s easier. And I think notions more built for those sort of things. But I do totally see that, that Rome is a better place to just dump ideas as you have them and build out sort of this network of thought. So if you if you don’t use Rome or notion, you probably have no idea what I was taught what I’m talking about right now. But I do recommend both of those to you notion is totally free. Rome research is daunting $15 a month, but they do have a 31 day trial. And, man,

I’m liking it, I I’ll be honest with you, I think it’s, I think I’m probably gonna end up sticking with him. So we’ll see, I’ll keep you posted. But in my kind of quest to really pour myself into Rome, and really take it seriously and try to go as deep as I can with it so that if I decide not to use it in the future, I

will have given it a fair shake. Here’s the project I’m working on. I’m building a book in Rome. So that’s kind of the that’s I’m doing a lot of stuff at the same time. But I’m trying to apply what I’ve been reading in how to take smart notes, which is where you basically take all these different notes and then you arrange them later into a work. So in my case, a book.

And I’m trying to do that using Rome as my kind of my slip box, as they call it in the book. So what’s the book I’m working on? Well, I’m actually working on a book for a series that Christian Focus, it’s called the Track series, and it’s edited by John Perritt of reform youth ministries, and they are, but there’s a bunch of these books, in fact, I recommend to you, especially if you’re a pastor is your great little books for students on a variety of just very practical issues. Like there’s one by ligand Duncan on sanctification. There’s one by Ed Welch. JOHN parrot, the the editor they mentioned he did one that’s really good on technology. And it’s geared towards middle school, high school and college students. And it’s not puff, I mean, it is it is solidly grounded in the Word of God, you know, which, unfortunately, a lot of student resources are not. But I would encourage you check out the track series from Christian focus. And especially check it out since I’m, I’ll be contributing to it

in the next little while. So I’m working on a little book for that series. And I’m trying to approach this in a smart way. So I have mountains and mountains of research that I have done on the topic of video games and video game addiction, which is what my book is about when you’re like, what are you doing video games with me and productivity? Well, that’s another passion of mine, not video games, but I’m helping Christians to understand the addictive nature of video games that are created to be addictive, and that we need to not that they’re bad, but we need to approach them with a certain degree of caution. And so I’m going to be writing about that. And I already have written a ton about it, I think I have something like 50,000 words, with references to research I’ve written I’ve read tons and tons of books and articles on the subject. But when I was working on it,

over the last few years, I have been writing all for more like an academic research work. For some reason, I didn’t really know who the audiences be, I just kept writing stuff as as I was reading amount of thinking about it. So now I have all these notes on different sort of topics on the subject of video games and, and different history, things or illustrations, but they’re all these different kind of atomized little notes. And so I’m trying to apply the principles from this book, smart notes, where I’m in do this in Rome, where I basically have a chapter list that I’m trying to do in for this book, and I’m going through and rereading all the notes I’ve ever taken. And I’m importing them into Rome as individual notes. And then I’m cross referencing them to the video game books project, and to the individual

chapter they think that they’ll best fit with. And my thought is, if, if this book is to be believed, that when all those are done, I’ll basically have a bunch of research all in context that I can look at. And then I can some parts that I can copy and paste and basically start to build out the structure for the chapter. After obviously, right new material and stuff connected all together, or some parts, I’ll need to totally rewrite because a different audience.

And hopefully, it will turn this giant daunting process of write a book into, basically take all the things I’ve already done, and turn them into something much better that will finally hopefully, finally, see the light of day and someone will actually read it. So that’s my my project before me. And that’s how I’m trying to apply how to take smart notes by some gay Aaron’s, and I’m doing it in Rome research. So I don’t know if you guys care at all about this, but I always find it helpful. And I always ask guests when I have them on here about what tools they use and what methods and so I thought I’d just share with you what I’m doing right now, in lieu of a more reserved or formal episode. So that’s what I’m doing. And I’m excited about it. So far, I’ve been having a lot of fun doing it. It’s It’s nice to be on vacation, you know, and kind of let the mind relax and just work on projects you want to work on. And so that’s what I’m doing. And I’m enjoying it. And again, yeah, I’ll keep you posted.

I also am hopeful that this will bear more fruit in terms of ideas for podcast episodes and blog posts and videos. Because I do think that if you’re reading, why not also capture the ideas that you’re reading spawns in your mind, right if you already consuming something, why not have a way of capturing what those thoughts that come off of that in a place where you can maybe eventually use them for something else. So that’s what this book, how to take smart notes helps you to do.

And that’s probably enough rambling for now. I’m gonna get back to my vacation. And some fish tacos which I could smell in the other room. But I appreciate you guys listening. I’ll have a more polished maybe maybe episode next week. But until I see you again, remember this that in whatever you do, do it well and do it all for the glory of God

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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