Do You Need a System For Taking Notes?

11 July, 2023

For the majority of people, the answer to that question is No.

When I say majority, I’m not talking about dedicated productivity hackers or the personal knowledge management crowd. I mean people who don’t view all the little pieces of information that they collect as indispensable nuggets of wisdom. I mean people who aren’t looking to build something with as lofty a moniker as a personal knowledge base.

When I think of a note taking system, there’s an implication of complexity. There’s an implication of heft. Of fine-grained organization. And also of volume, which explains the need (whether real or imagined) for that complexity and fine-grained organization. Admittedly, there are people who do need a system for taking notes. That said, I question the level of complexity that they bake into those systems.

The rest of us, though, only need a place to drop the occasional thought, idea, link, or bit of personal information. We don’t need to manage masses of personal knowledge or generate maps of the relationships between our notes. A system, in a case like this, isn’t worth the time and effort required to set it up and to manage it.

Don’t worry about where to save your notes. Don’t stress about whether those notes are indexed, filed, tagged, or synced. Just create your notes. Delete them whenever you no longer need them. And get on with whatever you need to use those notes for.

Don’t waste time twiddling and twerning, jumping from one note taking tool or another then back again. Just fire, forget, and get stuff done with your notes. That’s the whole point of taking notes, isn’t it?

Scott Nesbitt