Newsletter #62: Learn Through Note-taking

Ramses Oudt
Ramses Oudt
Newsletter #62: Learn Through Note-taking

Happy Friday from Amsterdam!

Today I have some good and some bad news.

The good news is that I’ve opened up the entire content catalog, dating back to the early days of RoamStack. If you’re reading this email, you’ll have access to everything I’ve produced around PKM so far.

The bad news is that this newsletter is the last edition I’ll send in the next couple of months.

There have been many changes in my life recently and I need to free up time and headspace. I've been trying to focus on too many things recently, to the point I'm starting to feel overwhelmed.

In the last few months, my limited reading and writing time has been taken up by producing this newsletter. But I want to write more stuff myself instead of curating other people's work. There are enough PKM blogs and newsletters out there, and I don’t want to keep rehashing the same material.

The coming months I’ll be learning and applying new skills. Web design is high on my list, and so is copywriting. Along with my daily dose of Italian, of course. I’ll be battle-testing learning techniques I’ve been refining over the past years, and I'll be sharing what else I learn along the way.

I will return to reboot the newsletter, but it will likely be in a slimmed-down form. So please do stay subscribed. I'll use my research and writing time to produce evergreen content about accelerated learning and clear thinking. Any article I publish, I'll also send out via email.

Anyway, enough ranting about why I'm taking a pause. In the rest of this edition, I link to some ideas and techniques that I’ll use for my learning projects. While my learning tool kit is much larger, I believe these resources will help if you want to accelerate your learning pace.

Build the foundation for better learning

🎙 Workflow Wednesday: Build a personal learning system with Logseq
For the last couple of months I've been organizing Workflow Wednesday sessions for the Logseq community. Each week, an expert Logseq user shows and tells about how they use the tool to improve their thinking.

This week we switched off our cameras and did an audio-only session in the Logseq Discord. We dug deep into how to structure notes for learning, developing the habit of revisiting notes, using flashcards, creating a Zettelkasten for learning, and much more.

Listen to the full recording:

🤔 Thinking Slow With HQ&A: Take Better Notes When Reading Non-Fiction
If you highlight nearly everything of a text, you highlight nothing. Creating highlights is a skill in itself and it's easy to overdo it. One way I avoid creating too many highlights is to always attach a note to it. While this helps, it doesn't necessarily make it easier to learn from my notes.

The missing piece of the puzzle was adding questions. Jamie Mills wrote an excellent guide to note-taking that has helped me a lot. By taking Highlight, Questions & Answer notes, it's much easier to revisit and remember my insights using spaced repetition.

✍️ Learning on Steroids: Flow-Based Notetaking (PDF)
When I was just getting into accelerated learning techniques, Scott Young's content helped me a lot. One technique he teaches is flow-based note-taking. Simply said, it's a highly visual approach where you connect the relationship between ideas—useful when you like to use paper or an iPad for your notes:


With digital tools like Roam, Logseq and Obsidian, it's very easy to take flow-based notes in an outline format and connect the ideas. Add a plugin like Zsolt's Obsidian-Excalidraw, and you've got yourself a visual system to learn and build a knowledge base at the same time. This is definitely a technique I'll be using a lot more.

👩‍💻 How Note Taking Can Help You Become an Expert
Most of the note-taking advice I see is about how to learn from highly structured materials like books and courses. While useful, having a note-taking practice is even more useful when learning from your own experience. This comes in handy when you encounter problems or domains that aren't structured.

Cedric Chin is my go-to guy to learn about how to learn completely new fields. In the second part of his series on learning ill-structured domains, he dives into the very useful Cognitive Flexibility Theory before showing how you can build a hypertext system for learning.

Craft systems for better learning

🐢 Use the Feynman Technique, Logseq, and Obsidian for Slow Learning
This 30-minute video by Josh Duffney is a great intro to the Feynman Technique and how to apply it when learning digital skills.

This approach is great for learning and creating a personal knowledge base at the same time. By having several passes of the same material and transforming the information, you internalize knowledge. The notes themselves later act as reminders of concepts and will save you lots of time googling for answers.

📖 Reading process in Roam Research
How much you retain from a book depends on how much you wrestle with the ideas in it. Just directing your attention towards a text and then thinking out loud will help a lot to remember more.

I recently stumbled upon this tweet and video by Alex, in which he shows how he takes notes from books in Roam. If you've ever been thinking of starting a Zettelkasten, this is great "game film" of how to get started with writing fleeting notes.

🕸 Live Roaming: Mashup of [[Roam White Paper]] and [[It's Time to Build]] by [[Marc Andreessen]]
Let's end this edition with some more game film for knowledge work. In this now classic video, Roam CEO Conor White-Sullivan shows how he synthesizes ideas through writing.

If you've ever wondered how to properly use Roam (or any other outliner), this is the way. Pay extra attention to how Conor indents and how he uses the "Choice" algorithm of thought.

That's it for now!

I hope these resources will help you become a better learner. If you have any questions or comments, please hit reply and share your thoughts with me. Another way to stay in contact is by joining the Think Stack Club on Discord or to follow me on Twitter.

I'll be back with regular newsletters in a few months. Until then, you'll see my original content drop in your inbox every now and then. So please stay subscribed 🙏


Join the conversation.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Think Stack Club
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
You've successfully subscribed to Think Stack Club
Success! Click here to start your premium onboarding.
Success! Your billing info has been updated
Your billing was not updated