Do you document what you learn?

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Luke Luke
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Do you document what you learn?

Post by Luke Luke » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:32 am

Hi all,
I am pretty new to the forum. Have been reading a lot in the past month and learned lot of new things.

I was just wondering, does any of you document what you learn, like in a personal journal or something like that. It can be anything from personal philosophy, Thinking models, Technical knowledge, etc? If yes, how do you do that? Do you do it online somewhere or offline in a personal note book?

Thanks
Luke

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Dragline
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by Dragline » Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:17 am

Yes. I keep a private journal where I make notes about not only things that have happened and personal reactions to things (really important to do!), but also things I have read (or want to read) or learned, and goals, etc. Most days I write something, even if its only a few lines about mundane things such as exercise. Some days I cut and paste a lot of stuff.

I've been doing it for a few years. Wish I had been doing it a lot longer, but it wouldn't happen if I had to use paper. Progress on anything goes a lot quicker when you document it.

I've found it easiest to use Penzu, but there are a lot of these types of applications.

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Sclass
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by Sclass » Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:18 am

Yes.

I think useful (and thus valuable) knowledge that took work to acquire is an asset and needs to be organized and stored. There are some loose parallels with storing wealth and storing knowledge. They can both store energy and build on themselves given the right conditions.

I use paper and digital files for designs, tricks, recipes, mental maps, ideas, philosophies, diagrams and articles. I'm lazy so digital photos are my latest archiving trick. I like Steelcase files and USB HDDs. I'm just starting to dabble in cloud storage.

A young programmer taught me a good trick a few years ago. While mentoring him I noticed his files were a mess. His data was organized in an illogical way and was cumbersome to manually drill down into. I lectured him on how important it was to build on prior won ground. He then showed me that it didn't matter if his stuff was a virtual trash heap...as long as it was digitally searchable. With a few taps of his keyboard he dug up our needed info. Brilliant kid. This is why old guys like me need to step aside. So now all my files have searchable tags.

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stand@desk
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by stand@desk » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:02 am

With some of the journal writing I have done in the past, I find the most useful is to collect quotes or perspectives that made sense to me at the time and to put it in my own format style. Even twitter could be used for micro-journaling. But if it made sense and stuck with you in the past, I find that it will make sense to you in the future too, even if you do change as a person moderately overtime. And going back to the well can bring pleasure and be a great way to spend time.

Journaling about the struggles you've been through seems like you are re-living them and I find it doesn't provide much of a purpose. It's not very purposeful to dwell on those moments for too long. Or maybe just to appreciate you are not in those moments now.

Lately I have had a notebook beside my computer and I will write in it anything I please. To do lists, ideas, measurements of the freezer that my wife and I are planning to buy. I like having my black notebook around and I can look back into it to see what was relevant to me in the past few weeks, months etc.

When I was growing up I loved taking inventory of the ideas and important information of the things that I was passionate about. This involved using marker to draw the jerseys of all the NHL Hockey Teams while listening to a game on the radio, or taking down golf notes from the Golf Magazines I signed out of the library. Now with the internet, content is abundant, but still, archiving a collection of things that are important to you seems like a good way to spend time and provide purposeful fulfillment in life. It's like you are always working on a project or idea and to me it seems like a great way to live.

The other thing is that your collection must be relevant to you. You can't take someone else's collection and have it mean the same to you. You need to take bits and pieces from a number of sources and make that collection the most relevant and sacred to you. And then ultimately, sharing a great deal of that knowledge and information with hopefully at least one important person in your life, maybe a student or your spouse.

Luke Luke
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by Luke Luke » Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:00 pm

Thanks for all your inputs. As many of you mentioned, I too have observed that I get the most difficult task done if I document the plan and the progress properly.

@Dragline
not only things that have happened and personal reactions to things (really important to do!)
I never thought of documenting my personal reactions to things. Why do you think this is very important? What value has it added for you?

Thanks for introducing me to Penzu. I will have a closer look. Right now I am using Workflowy and I am loving it. It helps both to plan and to record my thoughts, ideas etc in a structured manner.

@Sclass

I too believe in making my second brain (that's what I like to call my knowledge center) more searchable. The current system I use have an option to add tags but I never explored it. I also want to use reusable checklist for anything from learning a new skill to capture personal information of folks which might help in networking and having a closer one to one interaction with people. I heard mental maps are an efficient way of recording and quickly reviewing the information at a later point. I should try that out sometime and incorporate it to my other methods.

@stand@desk

Thanks for the idea on keeping a personalized list of quotes handy. I am going to add that to my system soon.
You need to take bits and pieces from a number of sources and make that collection the most relevant and sacred to you. And then ultimately, sharing a great deal of that knowledge and information with hopefully at least one important person in your life, maybe a student or your spouse.
This is one of the reasons why I also want to start doing it more diligently going forward.

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Dragline
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by Dragline » Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:23 pm

Luke Luke wrote: @Dragline
not only things that have happened and personal reactions to things (really important to do!)
I never thought of documenting my personal reactions to things. Why do you think this is very important? What value has it added for you?
I've discovered what we (ok, me) actually enjoy or dislike is often different than our expectations, both in quality and in magnitude. By writing down actual reactions to good and bad events it helps me focus on what is important to me so that I have a baseline for the future, so that you can create more favorable situations in the future. I've learned not to become overly reliant on memory of feelings -- it has a habit of playing tricks on me.

There is an adage that "you get what you measure". So if you want more happiness, fulfillment or any of those positive fuzzy things and avoid pain, disenchantment, etc., you need to measure these things as they occur.

Treat yourself as a child or a pet that you are responsible for caring for. You may find that you really do get a lot more out of pleasant but every-day experiences such as riding a bike on a nice day than you think. Conversely, it often helps eliminate every day annoyances (or people) once you identify them. Works great to help you not buy stuff you don't need, too. You'll find you enjoy the memories of not buying as much or more than the joy of acquisition and subsequent buyer's remorse.

jennypenny
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by jennypenny » Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:41 pm

Dragline wrote:There is an adage that "you get what you measure". So if you want more happiness, fulfillment or any of those positive fuzzy things and avoid pain, disenchantment, etc., you need to measure these things as they occur.
How do you measure those things, other than just writing in your journal that something made you happy? (serious question)

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Dragline
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by Dragline » Sun Sep 07, 2014 7:03 pm

jennypenny wrote:
Dragline wrote:There is an adage that "you get what you measure". So if you want more happiness, fulfillment or any of those positive fuzzy things and avoid pain, disenchantment, etc., you need to measure these things as they occur.
How do you measure those things, other than just writing in your journal that something made you happy? (serious question)
That's really it -- its more binary than anything else. This was good, this was bad, this was ugly. Add appropriate adjectives, pictures or music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFa1-kciCb4

What it tells you is "do/don't go back to that place", "do/don't spend more time with that person", etc. Or maybe, I really worked hard at learning kayaking, but it wasn't as fun as I thought. Or, I'd never been wake-boarding, but I had a great time -- I need to do that again. When you go back and read it a few months later, light-bulbs come on and bells start ringing. Helps you break bad habits (your foolish consistencies) and start new and better ones.

More importantly, your perception of your own life will change if you document what is meaningful to you. Photographs and videos help, too.

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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by jennypenny » Sun Sep 07, 2014 7:43 pm

But don't you worry that by keeping and re-reading journals that you're giving too much weight to past experiences and perceptions? Or that the simple act of writing something down in your journal gives it more gravitas than it might deserve? I guess I wonder if it's better not to voice some feelings. I also worry that I might feel married to a concept or idea because I once expressed how good it was in my journal. I don't want a journal to make me feel bound to my past.

Maybe this is just my issue given some of my quirks. :(


To the OP: I do keep a trading diary and have an entry for each day I trade that lists trades, conditions, sentiment, etc. It has helped me pinpoint under which conditions I'm most successful.

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luxagraf
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by luxagraf » Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:29 pm

I'm a writer both by inclination and profession so I'm clearly biased, but yeah I take tons of notes and those notes often consist of outside stuff along with my notes about it. In fact I've found that outside things without my reaction or thoughts are pretty much useless to me later on.

But my big caveat is that notes and journals are only useful if you have some way to access the stored information in a manner that makes it possible to apply it to new situations.

If you just write a bunch of stuff down thinking it might be handy later, it rarely does any good. At least that's been my experience. If you write a bunch of stuff down in such a way that you can actually recall it on command (whether that's via some digital search or just a really organized makes-sense-to-you notebook) only then it becomes useful.

So in that way I think how you take and store notes is really pretty much an individual thing. Personally I use plain text files and a command line search tool called egrep, but I would not suggest most people go that route.

I also take copious notes using pen and index cards. There's something called the Zettelkasten Method that I don't always use, but on alternate Tuesdays when the moon is right, makes tons of sense to me: http://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/ ... asten.html (caution: deep rabbit hole for note taking nerds). I find a lot of the stuff on this site very useful as well: http://christiantietze.de/posts/ In general people that work in academia or libraries tend to have very good ideas on how to organize and store notes.

For example, I have my own collection of notes from this forum, where I collect up good ideas people post and why/what i like about them. I highlight the bits i like, add some tags to place it in the taxonomy of my notes and that's about it. But the act of doing that is enough to put something in my head so that later when I think I should buy a new blender, I remember that I have some notes on that. So I open a terminal, type "egrep blender" and get a note that has a link to this post in particular: viewtopic.php?p=75573#p75573 but the whole thread is still there as well and I get not only my thoughts (private) but your thoughts as well. In this case, I stick with Dragline's advice to keep the blender i have and use it in conjunction with "a process known as 'mastication'".

That might not make sense, but it works for me. Granted, you could also so this by typing "blender site:http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com" in google, but then you won't find your thoughts, just everyone else's.

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stand@desk
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by stand@desk » Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:42 pm

@ JennyPenny You make a good point that by going over and over what you did in the past, it might take you away from the present and future. Imagine having a big piece of paper on the wall with Chronological Years and writing down some of the major events from each year. It's great to reflect over and see what you have done but after a while you get tired of it and want to have a fresh outlook.

I guess taking down notes is good to a point, but since we can only mentally process so much at a time, to keep reveling in the past will get old after a while. The key is to have a working knowledge of what you have learned so you can be fluid, instead of needing to constantly go back to this second brain every time you interact with the world. There is something to be said for being able to perform on your feet in many of life's situations.

Luke Luke
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by Luke Luke » Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:20 am

Thanks everyone for your views, tips and suggestions.

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Dragline
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by Dragline » Mon Sep 08, 2014 8:36 am

jennypenny wrote:But don't you worry that by keeping and re-reading journals that you're giving too much weight to past experiences and perceptions? Or that the simple act of writing something down in your journal gives it more gravitas than it might deserve? I guess I wonder if it's better not to voice some feelings. I also worry that I might feel married to a concept or idea because I once expressed how good it was in my journal. I don't want a journal to make me feel bound to my past.

Maybe this is just my issue given some of my quirks. :(


To the OP: I do keep a trading diary and have an entry for each day I trade that lists trades, conditions, sentiment, etc. It has helped me pinpoint under which conditions I'm most successful.
No, because I'm not constantly re-reading them -- I only do that every few months or when I think I remember something, which then leads to a word search. Most of my daily entries are only a paragraph or two.

Like active note-taking of a book or outlining in school, its the act of recording itself that increases the ability to remember it later. And honestly, I have a great natural memory for facts, figures and ideas, but a terrible memory for events. I'm the kind of person who has to ask another person who was there what they remember to help trigger my own memory. So I need all the help I can get!

I am a believer that much of what we possess at the end of the day is simply the memories of our lives. So I do often ask myself when choosing a future course action that's likely to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money whether its likely to create a positive memory or a negative one. But since I tend to like new experiences, its usually weighted towards trying it out once.

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Chad
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by Chad » Mon Sep 08, 2014 9:03 am

My preferred method is Evernote. I put everything in here now. I'm almost paperless now. Old documents, list of books I have read/should read, notes from books/websites/thoughts/etc.

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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by jacob » Mon Sep 08, 2014 9:39 am

I don't take notes, because I find that when I re-read them, they don't make much sense to me without the context. For example, I might have an idea which causes me to write down a few sentences. However, later on (say two months from now), those sentences seem trite and useless because they do not capture the full idea.

I do, however, write entire books, articles, and blog posts about the things I learn. These do/should contain the entire context. I do not always publish those but the unpublished versions still have substantial material, e.g. typically 1/3 of a full work.

I'm also fond of mind maps as a short cut to capture this structure. I find that knowing/figuring the structure/presentation [of an idea] is 9/10 of the challenge.

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GandK
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by GandK » Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:10 am

No, but I believe this thread has inspired me to start!

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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by jacob » Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:45 am

I should probably also add that I don't/extremely rarely re-read these writings. As knowledge accumulates, maintenance becomes increasingly costly. Up until my early/mid-twenties, I noticed that I retained whatever I learned. However, eventually, old and unushed knowledge began to give way for new knowledge. I began to forget things I didn't use. Since I have practically kept up the learning intensity since I ended formal learning, I would now be maintaining the equivalent of several college degrees. Just imagine the vast collection of flash cards filled with such trivia. This would be almost impossible, so I forget things.

However, the beauty of forgetting is that it's much easier to regain something than to gain it in the first place. Just like muscle mass. What I don't forget [as easily] is that I once knew something.

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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by anomie » Mon Sep 08, 2014 4:18 pm

Recipes - Google Drive
DW and I save them from Web in a shared Google Drive folder as pdf's (Print > pdf basically). Google indexes the contents of documents including pdf, and a quick search of drive gives the recipe. We bring it up on the Nexus 7 in the kitchen come dinner time.

Work notes
Text documents in plentitude, multiple per day ; semi-organized by folder.
Can search the root directory or a specific directly with a

Code: Select all

grep -nri 'searchWord or Phrase Here' --include="*.txt" .
Blog posts
Factual information bits that Googling does not turn up or turn up easily.

I find that as the Google AI gets smarter and smarter, I just rely on it for information.

This thread has made me consider (at least briefly) writing down more introspective types of information. :)

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GandK
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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by GandK » Mon Sep 08, 2014 5:45 pm

anomie wrote:This thread has made me consider (at least briefly) writing down more introspective types of information. :)
Yeah, I clip things all the time. I use Evernote for articles I come across online and want to make sure I can find later, and Google Keep for random things I jot down to remember later. But I don't think that counts as learning. More like tripping over ideas on my daily virtual walks and deciding to pick them up and put them in my cloud pocket.

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Re: Do you document what you learn?

Post by wolf » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:17 am

Luke Luke wrote:
Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:32 am
I was just wondering, does any of you document what you learn, like in a personal journal or something like that. It can be anything from personal philosophy, Thinking models, Technical knowledge, etc? If yes, how do you do that? Do you do it online somewhere or offline in a personal note book?
Yes!

I document what I learn and experience throughout the day in my 'offline' journal (note book). I write almost everyday a half DinA4 page. I have been writing with my right hand for almost three years now, although I'm left-handed. I believe writing with my right hand, which is 'unnatural' to me, stimulates my left brain. Well, I hope there are some good side-effects. Well, back to the original topic. :)

In addition to my journal I document what I learn digitally via textfiles, pictures, spreadsheets, mind maps, folders, etc.

If I think about learning techniques, I also think about repetition. (First I thought about creating a new thread, but I try to use this one because it is almost the same topic)

Everyday I review one highlight from my journal entry one month ago. It is quite interesting to read what I thought one month ago. It is surprising and shocking the same time :shock:

But I like to dig deeper in some topics and focus on these, too. So I thought about a repetition system for focus topics. I read about so many new things, topics, issues every week. The issue is to find time to learn and repeat, (because I work fulltime during the week). I solved it by using my spare time on the weekends. Therefore I started a new system called WZW ('wöchentliche Zykluswiederholung', translated weekly cyclical repetition, based on the Forgetting Curve). I learn more deeper about a specific topic on a weekend. And in the following weeks I repeat them. Well, I can tell you if it works in a few months. ;)

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