Folders vs. Links

You took a note during a late-night conversation with your friend. You have been looking for that note ever since. Not long ago, you could have used this information during another important conversation you had with your project manager or partner.

Where is that note?

Oh, don't worry, you will find it... randomly and when you least expect it. When you have the least need for it.

Hold it! What's the point of taking that note in the first place if the profound insight you have jotted there never gets to be applied in a real-life situation?

Is there a way to get that note to find you instead?

Imagine there is a way to get that stubborn note to find you when you need it. It is like your car keys, wallet, and phone are showing up at the door as you are about to leave the house. Magic? Not quite.

There are 2 types of organizational philosophies when it comes to information:

  • Folders (think boxes: categories, sub-categories, etc.) This is a way of organizing information by placing a particular item in a category based on a specific attribute: project, use case, sender, etc.
  • Links (think network: wikis, internet, your brain) In this case, information is linked to another note based on its content and relevance.

Benefits of Links vs. Folders?

  • No need to locate the exact "address" of the item or note. Just locate a related item.
  • Structure emerges on its own out chaos
  • A list of backlinks will remind you about relevant notes you took in connection with the main (parent) note
  • No need to duplicate information. One note could be linked to multiple parent notes.
  • Creates more efficient workflows
  • Promotes team collaboration and exchange of corporate knowledge
  • Helps you create new insights

Both Links and Folders organization systems have their benefits. Links system is more efficient and offers a better way to organize and share information, especially at the enterprise level.

What applications can I use to create interlinked notes?

There are a few apps that let you create workspaces with linked notes:

  • Obsidian (highly customizable; learning curve)
  • Logseq (Apple-like alternative to Obsidian; more simple and easy to use)
  • Roam Research (the original app that got the revolution stated)

The first time you try the apps above, you may be a bit confused and not fully see the benefits of linked notes.

It is when you daily one of these apps and use them to take all of your regular notes is when you start seeing the time-saving benefits and a neural-network-type structure emerging helping you generate new insights.

Now, that's magic!

Give it a try.

P. S. How to Take Smart Notes book will help you understand how to get started with networked note taking:

Book: "How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking" Author: Sönke Ahrens

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