Lesson
Materials

Module 03:

Lesson 5: Properly consume knowledge

Despite the fact that social media sites are designed to lure you in, that’s not the only reason you return to these wretched places.

Boredom, is the other key motive inspiring us to abandon everything and stop making progress on learning Spanish or becoming the next fancy entrepreneur with a killer product on Product Hunt.

Even if you’re super excited about becoming a location independent programmer, the process of learning reminds us about a time period most of us despise – school.

Since we all have spent more than 12 years inside classrooms, as soon as we realize that someone is trying to teach us something, we zone out.

Fortunately, there are a lot of interesting ways to learn things online. That’s why it’s crucial to find quality sources of information which also means teachers who explain things in a simple and engaging matter.

But that’s not enough.

To make sure you won’t fall asleep in front of your keyboard, and to actually remember something from what you’ve just read, you need to do something on your end.

Once you have your sources, do this: take notes.

This activity is proven to be the best way to retain information.(1)

Why is that?

Well, imagine a bucket with a hole for a moment.

Watching a video might feel productive but if you’re not doing anything with the information afterward you’ll forget what was just discussed.

Or in other words, you’re simply wasting your time.

writing things down is important to retain the information you consume.

As you can’t learn how to ride a bike without actually trying to ride a bike. You also can’t learn how to code unless you try the tips mentioned by the gurus online.

During a presentation – video, post, or while reading a book – make sure to take notes (preferably by hand). Write down everything that interests you, the important facts, and note actionable items.

Of course, you don’t need to write everything.

The famous 80/20 rule states the following: 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event.

Or in other words, if an article is 1000 words long, the major takeaway will be within 200 words. Track these words down.

A technique I use to take notes which I later use in my writings is a combination of the following two methods: Plus, minus and what’s next? and the SQRRR reading method.(2)

When reading a piece of information online, consider the following things and take notes:

  • (?) Question: What’s the main question the writer is trying to answer?
  • (!) What’s important: What’s the most important thing(s) in the text?
  • (>) What’s next: What I should do next? How can I implement this in my project/life?
how to properly take notes

Let’s observe the following article from the site css-tricks.com – the beginner’s guide for learning CSS (the one I found previously).

After reading the article, I came up with the following notes:

my notes after reading an article

As you can see, I now have a clear idea of what’s needed in order to learn how to code. Also, where to go next.

“Why not just save the article and call it a day?” you might say.

There are a ton of apps that will allow you to easily save links. A bunch of sites exists that promise to organize what you found and also categorize your sources. But the practice of saving links for later is redundant and actually quite dangerous practice.

You become a scrap collector – not an action taker.

Simply saving articles to read them “someday” is the best way to fool yourself that you’re doing something while you’re actually not.

To actually master a subject, you need to take notes and later to take action on these notes – the last lesson in this course.

✍️ Action Section:

Take notes while you’re reading articles or while you’re watching videos.

Action Items:

When taking notes, answer the following questions when you go through the information: (?) What’s the main question? (!) What’s most important? (>) What I should do next?

Download the Workbook and use Worksheet #6 to take effective notes.

📋 Pro tip:

There are literally thousands of note-taking techniques. Gurus around the world will try to convince you that their way of writing things down is the ultimate approach. Don’t listen to them. Hell, don’t even use what I mentioned above if you don’t think it’s the best approach for you.

Try out different ways and apps and see which one suits you best. The important thing is to take notes if you want to retain information. How exactly you do it is something you’ll decide for yourself.

Personally, I use Google Keep to take notes. It’s surely not the fanciest and most talked-about note-taking app but it’s free, simple, fast, and easy to use.*

Other popular note-taking apps are:

*I’m not affiliated in any way with the tools mentioned above.

Mark this lesson as complete to move to the next lesson…

Action Items:

Download the Workbook and use Worksheet #6 to take effective notes.

 

Footnotes:

  1. In a study conducted by the Institute of Psychological Sciences, scientists proved that taking notes by hand is far more effective. Keep this in mind when studying and organizing information for later use.
  2. You can read more about these techniques here: Plus, minus, nextSQ3R.