Posted on: February 24, 2023 Posted by: Stuti Shiva Comments: 2
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History of Note-Taking

Scene from roman history in antique

Note-taking is indeed an old age science that dates back to ancient times. The practice of recording important information and ideas has been essential for human progress and development, from early cave paintings to the modern digital age.

The ancient Greeks and Romans were known for their extensive note-taking practices. In fact, the word “note” comes from the Latin word “nota”, which means a mark or sign used to record information. Philosophers such as Aristotle and Seneca were known for their meticulous note-taking practices, which helped them organize and synthesize complex ideas.

During the Middle Ages, note-taking was often done by hand on parchment or paper, using ink and quills. This was a time-consuming and laborious process, but it was essential for recording important information and preserving knowledge for future generations.

In the 19th century, note-taking became more widespread with the advent of the printing press and mass-produced books. This made it easier for people to access and record information, and note-taking became a more common practice among students, scholars, and professionals.

‘The Method’ in the book

Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte is an incredibly insightful and thought-provoking book that offers practical strategies for managing information overload and harnessing the power of digital tools to enhance creativity and productivity.

Forte’s approach to managing information is centered around the concept of a “Second Brain”, which is essentially a system for organizing and storing all of the digital information that we encounter on a daily basis. Through a series of well-crafted exercises and examples, Forte demonstrates how this system can be used to capture ideas, store important information, and facilitate the creative process.

One of the things that I particularly appreciated about ‘Building a Second Brain’ was its emphasis on the importance of reflection and curation. Forte stresses that the value of our Second Brain is not just in the information we store, but in the insights and connections that we can draw from that information. He encourages readers to take time to review and reflect on their digital archives, and to curate their information in a way that supports their long-term goals and priorities.

Another strength of the book is its focus on practical tools and techniques. Forte provides detailed instructions for using a range of digital tools, such as Evernote, Trello, and Roam Research, to build a Second Brain that works for your unique needs and preferences. He also offers tips and tricks for optimizing your workflow and staying organized in the face of ever-changing demands.


Free woman taking notes in journal

There are several techniques that can be used to organize information effectively. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Outlining: This involves creating a hierarchical structure that breaks down information into smaller and more manageable chunks. This technique is often used to organize written content, such as reports or presentations.
  2. Mind Mapping: This involves creating a visual representation of the relationships between different ideas or concepts. Mind maps can be used to organize thoughts, brainstorm ideas, and solve problems.
  3. Chronological Ordering: This technique involves arranging information in a sequential order based on time. This can be useful for organizing historical events, project timelines, or progress reports.
  4. Categorization: This involves grouping similar items together based on shared characteristics or attributes. This technique is commonly used to organize data, such as customer information or inventory.
  5. Tagging: This involves assigning keywords or tags to pieces of information to make them easier to find and retrieve. This technique is often used in digital environments, such as email, file systems, or content management systems.
  6. Alphabetization: This involves organizing information based on the order of the letters in the alphabet. This technique is commonly used to organize lists, such as directories or indexes.
  7. Prioritization: This involves organizing information based on its level of importance or urgency. This technique is often used to manage tasks, projects, or deadlines.

Each of these techniques has its strengths and weaknesses, and the best one to use will depend on the type of information being organized and the specific goals of the project


The digital equivalent of a commonplace book today can be found in various note-taking apps or software that allow users to create and organize notes in a structured manner. Some popular digital tools for this purpose include Evernote, OneNote, Google Keep, Notion, Roam Research, and Bear.

These digital note-taking tools enable users to create and organize notes based on topics, tags, or categories, making it easier to retrieve and connect related ideas. They often include features like search functionality, rich text formatting, and the ability to attach images, files, or links.

Another digital equivalent to a commonplace book is a personal knowledge management (PKM) system. A PKM system is a way of managing and organizing personal knowledge in a digital environment. It involves capturing, organizing, and connecting information in a way that makes it easy to retrieve and use. Some popular PKM tools include Obsidian, DevonThink, and Zettelkasten.

In both cases, the digital equivalent of a commonplace book allows users to capture and organize information in a way that facilitates creativity, learning, and knowledge retention. It also enables users to access their notes from anywhere and collaborate with others, making it an essential tool for modern-day knowledge workers.

Overall, Building a Second Brain is an excellent resource for anyone looking to take control of their digital life and harness the power of technology for greater creativity and productivity. Forte’s writing is clear, engaging, and insightful, and his approach to information management is both practical and effective. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to build a more productive and fulfilling life in the digital age.

2 People reacted on this

  1. Superb explanation! Needless to say that the research behind this write up is stupendous! Enjoyed reading it thoroughly!

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