No, retaining shouldn’t be the goal of note-taking.

Zettelkasten note-taking. How to take notes.
Zettelkasten note-taking. How to take notes.
The prolific scholar, Niklas Luhmann, used index cards for his now famous Zettelkasten note-taking system. Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

Have you ever asked yourself what’s the point of taking notes? If you think it’s to remember, read on, because it’s a common misconception.

Like many things in life, taking notes has become so customary and ingrained in our routines that we’ve stopped reflecting on why we do so.

It’s surprising how little time we spend thinking about why we take notes, when developers regularly create new apps that aim to improve how we take notes. If you’re interested in the how, check out my post below:

Knowing why we’re doing something often provides insights into how we should do it. Reflecting on why I take notes have changed how I take notes — I use Obsidian as my note-taking app because it helps me take modular notes and develop and connect ideas easily. …


Insights and tools to help you take better notes and think better

Note-taking strategies
Note-taking strategies
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Why do we take notes? How should we take notes?

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about note-taking lately. I debated with friends, did some research, and this post summarizes what I’ve learned about the second question: How should we take notes? (See also my post on how to learn.)

If you’re interested in why we take notes, check out my post below:

Below, I’ll describe how an app, Obsidian, a sociologist, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence (AI) have changed the way I think about note-taking.

Free and incredible note-taking app: Obsidian

Obsidian note-taking app
Obsidian note-taking app
Multi-pane editor and knowledge graph. Screen recording by the author.

Obsidian is a free note-taking app that wants to be your second brain. …


Obsidian makes connecting ideas easy and helps you think and write better

Obsidian’s multi-pane editor and graph view
Obsidian’s multi-pane editor and graph view
Obsidian’s multi-pane editor and graph view (other themes are available). Screenshot by the author.

Obsidian might be the note-taking app we’ve been waiting for.

It wants to be your second brain. It lets you capture your ideas and take notes in text (Markdown) files, and most importantly, it easily connects your notes and visualizes connections among them. It’s perfect for discovering insights from your notes. It’s also free, so you have little to lose if you try it.

It’s made me rethink why we take notes and completely changed how I take notes.

I’ve been using Obsidian for over two weeks, and I only love it more each day (I’m not affiliated with the developers). Other apps like Zettlr, RemNote, Notion, The Archive, DEVONthink, Tinderbox, and Scrapbox also have similar (and additional) features, but they aren’t free and lack a community as active as Obsidian’s. To add icing on the cake, the developers are very active and responsive too. …


Hause Lin

phd student | like to learn, think, discuss ideas, combine data & behavioral science, classical music | hauselin.com | linkedin: t.ly/Ybvy

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