How to take notes (effectively) and capture ideas: Cal Newport

How to take notes (effectively) and capture ideas: Cal Newport

We all know that note taking is important - not just for productivity, but also to capture better ideas

But here is the truth. Most of us SUCK at note taking. You start with a notebook or an app and move on to other apps - with no trace of notes.

Deep Work author, Cal Newport shares the art of note-taking, offering practical advice for knowledge workers and students. He shares different types of note-taking systems, discusses the importance of aligning incentives when seeking productivity advice, and provides insights on balancing multiple interests while maintaining focus on core life fundamentals.

We need some separation for note-taking to keep up with the complexity of modern life.

Cal Newport’s Note-taking process

There are three components to note-taking, as recommended by Cal Newport

  • Working Memory Extender
  • Obligation Tracker
  • Idea Capture System

Working Memory Extender

A working memory extender is a crucial tool for knowledge workers, serving as a temporary storage system for information that exceeds the brain's immediate capacity. This can be a simple text file on your desktop (Cal has named his file WorkingMemory.txt), updated throughout the day.

Recording information on a durable written medium... anywhere you're collecting information in a written medium that's durable. Then you have it outside of your head so you can reference it later.