• How to Take Smart Notes

  • One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking - for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers
  • By: Sonke Ahrens
  • Narrated by: Nigel Fyfe
  • Length: 5 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (178 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The key to good and efficient writing lies in the intelligent organization of ideas and notes. This book helps students, academics, and nonfiction writers to get more done, write intelligent texts, and learn for the long run. It teaches you how to take smart notes and ensure they bring you and your projects forward.

The Take Smart Notes principle is based on established psychological insight and draws from a tried-and-tested note-taking technique. This is the first comprehensive guide and description of this system in English, and not only does it explain how it works, but also why. It suits students and academics in the social sciences and humanities, nonfiction writers, and others who are in the business of reading, thinking, and writing.

Instead of wasting your time searching for notes, quotes, or references, you can focus on what really counts: thinking, understanding, and developing new ideas in writing. It does not matter if you prefer taking notes with pen and paper or on a computer, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux. And you can start right away.

©2017 Sönke Ahrensv (P)2021 Sönke Ahrensv

What listeners say about How to Take Smart Notes

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More than just better knowledge management

This was a timely title. This is _exactly_ what I was looking for in a system to keep my projects in order.

Calling this a book about note taking is massively underselling it. This book covers knowledge management, project management, motivation, and living the good life as someone that flits from idea to idea.

If you ever got the feeling that you're missing out on a network effect because you aren't building a knowledge base, buy this book.

4 people found this helpful

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Highly lacking in practical examples

While this book describes an interesting approach. It's sadly has extremely few, if any, detailed examples of the zettelkasten method applied. I really wished it was more "show" and less "tell".

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

If you are new to Zettelkasten method, start with this book. Go nowhere else before reading this. Ahrens explains how it works and why it works. This book not only guides you how to use it, but also how to tweak it for your own special needs.

4 people found this helpful

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Motivating, informative and useful

As a very bad planner, desperate to reduce the friction related to collecting ideas and writing about them coherently, this approach looks promising!

I'm now in the process of starting a Zettelkasten routine, a mix between an Obsidian vault, a phone app to quickly jot down phrases and ideas on simple markdown files and a literal box with good old pen and paper notes.

I really recommend this book if you're struggling with writing and organising ideas into arguments.

3 people found this helpful

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A mindblowing book everyone should read

I recommend three books:

1. this one (This one first)
2. Brainschains
3. Getting things done

After that you can find you way through anything.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing reconception of notetaking and thinking

This was so excellent, I'm about to listen again right now. Very well done. Thank you.

1 person found this helpful

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My Smart Notes; already feeling smarter

The reader, was very engaging and made the learning and listening engaging and fun.

The was an excellent series of lessons on taking smart notes. As a life-long learner I continually search for improvement processes. Zettelkasten! It makes so much sense … The icing on the cake is the modern take on Zettelkasten; Obsidian. While reading (listening) to this book, I learned how to “Zettelkaste.” Also will reading, I learned the basics of Obsidian. I am about to dive into my MBA, Wish me luck!

1 person found this helpful

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Exceptional life changing book

All my life I had bad habits in regards to my study habits. I never had a solid note taking system in place. Zettelkasten note taking system is revolutionary in terms of not only building knowledge blocks, but connecting the blocks to derive new insights. This system can exponentially increase your original thinking.

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Don’t read another book before this one

Few books have had such a practical application on my learning like this one; I’ve always found sad how little I remember from books I’ve read even recently. This book provides a good structured solution to that problem, one that you’ll however need to complement with several hours of YouTube how to videos

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  • Anca
  • 12-21-21

Good insights, yet focusing heavily on the why you should use the method rather than perfecting the method

I liked the utility of the book in terms of organising oneself, especially when liking multiple subjects.
I disliked the emphasis on author explaining the multiple disciplines where the method leads to results.
I still believe people should read this book :)

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  • Giovanni Misitano
  • 01-01-22

Not a practical guide, but more of a motivator

This book lays down the motivation to why someone should consider the slipbox methofd of taking notes, and does a good job at it. However, it does not make it very clear how this method works in practice. Despite this shortcoming, the book is still an excellent read to anyone who reads and writes - despite being an academic or not. The lack in the practical topics can be easily supplemented with a couple of google searches.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Prince Ali 1138
  • 09-06-22

My new bible

This is my new manual for note-making for when I guess lost in the details for the practice. Which happens frequently and often.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-29-22

A potent book

This is one of those rare books that is really potent and life-transforming. Easy to follow, very practical. Highly recommended for students of all levels, authors, scholars, or readers in general.

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  • Bridget
  • 01-20-22

revelutionary tool

The best book I have listened to. I started immediately to make slip notes and I can confirm that it not only works but I now feel confident that I will be able to create really good essays and a meaningful thesis. I have only read through 3 books and made slip. nota for each but I can already see connections. I can't wait to see how these grow with my reading.