When writing down notes, reminders, and tasks, one thing matters most: speed. If it takes too long to write these things down, we're more likely to try to remember tasks or ideas. That's bad, because our brains aren't as good at reliably storing information as external media.
It doesn't matter if you use an analog or digital system to quickly write down information. Either system is primarily about speed.
Why You Need Quick Notes
There are countless situations every day when we need to write something down quickly. Either we don't have time to create a detailed note right now, or we need to get a reminder out of our head to focus on something else. Especially in conversations, this feature is useful to avoid giving the other person the feeling that you are not paying attention to them while taking notes.
Also, the speed of quick notes decreases the resistance to writing something down. When quick notes can be created easily and quickly, we no longer try to remember a piece of information instead of writing it down. External systems are much better at reliably storing things than our brains. Therefore, we should create a workflow to store memories quickly and free brain capacity for other things.
Such a system can be analog, for example, classic with a notepad and pen, or digital, for example, with a keyboard shortcut.
How to Speed Up Writing Things Down
There are a few tricks you can use to speed up writing things down, but they apply mostly to digital systems. With an analog approach, it's important to keep a pad and pen with you at all times so you can write down information quickly.
With digital systems, here's what you should keep in mind:
- There should be a keyboard shortcut or gesture that instantly creates a quick note.
- The title of the note should not be prompted, but set automatically. The title should contain the current date with time and the term “quick note,” so that one can find the notes faster later when processing the information.
- The location of the note should also be set automatically. New notes should be stored in the inbox of the note or file system by default.
- The note does not need a fancy layout. It is enough to insert paragraphs and indents to create multi-line lists. Quick notes are primarily intended for writing down short pieces of information so as not to interrupt the current activity for too long. Formatting and processing notes takes place later in the notes program.
My Shortcut for Quick Notes
I work on my Mac and iPhone with a digital shortcut to create quick notes. I use a modified version of Thomas Mathoi's shortcut, which is in German.
This shortcut works with any note program that can access the local file system (so for example Obsidian). In addition, the shortcut also works on iPhones.
The advantage is that it allows me to set a globally valid keyboard shortcut or gesture on the iPhone, so I can create notes from anywhere without having to switch programs.