The 5 Pillars of Note-taking

Reflect is based on 5 pillars of note-taking: 1. Frictionless 2. Append-only 3. Backlink entities 4. Associate with time and space 5. Include the why

The 5 Pillars of Note-taking

1. Frictionless

Writing is the place where thinking takes place. Once your thoughts are out of your head can you begin to make sense of them. Friction disrupts this process. Whatever tool you're using needs to be as fast as possible, and never force you to make decisions when recording thoughts.

2. Append-only

When new information comes along, append to existing notes rather than replace content in existing notes. This process mirrors the way our memory works. Do not worry about capturing “too much” information. Networked note-taking eliminates the need to do this by creating memory “hooks” for recall.
Our memory works through associations. If you mirror these associations when note-taking then you're creating extra hooks for later recall. You can mirror your memory's associations when note-taking through backlinking – a powerful feature that all networked note-taking tools support. Essentially you can link notes together in much the same way that web pages are linked together. Generally speaking it's a good idea to backlink all entities (such as people's name, locations, companies, etc). If it starts with a capital, backlink it. We have a built-in AI prompt that does this automatically. It’s useful for getting the hang of what to backlink.

4. Associate with space and time

Physical space is a really important part of memory formation and recall. For example: sometimes when moving between two rooms you'll forget something, only to remember when you return. Dates are great hooks for recall too. This is why daily journaling is so powerful. Any notes made in your daily-notes are automatically associated with a date.

5. Include the why

When you're reflecting back on your notes, it's often useful to understand not just what you did, but why you did it, and how you felt at the time. Don't just keep a running tally of tasks and facts. Note-taking can help reduce your biases, but only if you instill your notes with emotion.

Reading these, you can see why we’re so excited about tools like our voice note transcriber and AI palette editor. They make all 5 of these principles substantially easier to implement and keep up with.

Written by

Sam Claassen
Sam Claassen

Head of Growth at Reflect