Knowledge Needs a Way to Be Remembered

A system to store it, a workflow to maintain it, and it starts with a note.


I. “Left unwritten, knowledge will surely be forgotten.

It needs a place less ephemeral than the mind, more organized than a pile of post-its, and more flexible than a file cabinet.

Knowledge needs a system and it starts with a note.

Note-taking isn't just a method of storing information.

It's the process of understanding what you read and think. Note-taking creates entry points into your memory by giving you context and clues. With a proper system, those ideas can be connected in a way that ideas bubble up organically and effortlessly.

Notes are simply how knowledge is remembered.

Attempting to implement the Zettelkasten method1 I’ve learned how little I actually retain from my reading. I’m a slow reader who had fairly high retention before, but the ideas in the book “How to Take Smart Notes” have transformed my reading and are changing my writing.

Here’s a look at what I’ve built so far in Obsidain2.

It’s taken some mental thrashing, but I’m starting to understand how you use the Zettelkasten method with Obsidian.


I. “A mental note, a scribble on a napkin, or a sophisticated literature are where ideas begin and, sadly, where most die. Without a proper place to collect, system to organize, and workflow to process these great ideas unavoidably disappear into the ether form which it came.” — Sönke Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes3"

My current workflow is in its infancy but already yielding crazy results.

Types of notes:

  1. Fleeting

  2. Literature, reference, or source

  3. Permanent

Fleeting notes are normally written in my bullet journal or pocket notebook and then written into an Obsidian note as literature, reference, or source notes which are 2-3 sentences. At the end of the day, I review all notes and attempt to create a single permanent note of 300-500 words.

It’s proving to be a difficult habit to establish, but I think one that will be worth it.

Please feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments.


Read as if to write.

Artists have a vast appreciation for other artists. It is through their own obsessional observance that they improve their own craft. It's subtle, they don't replicate but integrate.

Highlighting is replicating, but note-taking is integrating.

Until next time,

Josh Duffney
Currently Writing ✍️: Reclaim
Update: I started a Twitch account, I’ll be live streaming some of my book writing
Favorite thing of the week: Woven, I am trying to find an easier way to stay in touch with people without the 40 back and forth emails about what time works best. And Woven looks promising.