Note-Taking Is Time Travel

Note-taking is the most important form of communication that you do every day.

Before we start: this essay is a bit different from my usual routine. Instead of posting the entire article, I’ve used this email as an entry point into my notes. By clicking the links, you will be taken directly to my note-taking system where I compose essays. Once there, you can right-click on links to explore a graph database that contains my working notes.

You can think about this essay like an iceberg: this email contains about 10% of the content. I’ve buried the other 90% beneath the surface. Happy exploring!


As a knowledge worker, I consider it part of my job responsibility to enable clear thinking for myself and others. Since knowledge workers spend most of their days communicating with each other, this means promoting effective communication habits. Communication takes many forms with the same underlying goal: to share information.

The medium determines the style. Consider:

  • Emails contain full sentences with enough context to complete a task.

  • Instant messages often start with a quick “hey” to see if the other person is available.

  • Meetings are usually scheduled ahead of time and have a fixed length.

Each example above involves sharing information between two or more people. What do we do when we want to send information to ourselves?

Notes give us this ability. Instead of transmitting information through space to others, notes send information through time to ourselves.

Good note-taking is underrated.


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