Flow-based note-taking is one of the best ways to consume content meant for learning. The approach followed by Flow notes is pretty straightforward - create notes as you understand it and not how the narrators narrate them.
The primary difference between Flow Notes and other note-taking methods is that you tend to take notes first and learn later, whereas, with flow notes, you learn while you take notes.
Below is an example of how Flow Notes would look in practice.
Advantages of Flow Notes
With this method, you'll be more efficient with time since you learn and take notes simultaneously. Why would you want to take notes for hours and spend more time learning those same notes later?
Also, the Flow method encourages active learning, which most of us don't practice enough. When you try to learn things actively and make connections between the information shared, you are much more likely to remember that information.
Using the Flow Note-Taking method
You can start on an empty page where you write the core idea of the session at the center. The next step would be to take down ideas you think are essential, in your own words, in the empty spaces.
When you find connections between something earlier to what is being said now, use arrows or lines to connect them. Remember to leave ample space at the beginning while writing down the main ideas.
I glance at the topic for the session and take down the sub-headings on the sheet with ample space between them to help me manage space, but you are free to improvise your way. This practice is not for structure but to ensure that I don't run out of writing space for any particular topic.
Finally, once I'm done with the notes, I will take the latest information and connect it back to the core idea. Back connecting helps me zoom out a bit and put my learnings into a story format, which helps make it more memorable.
Things to remember
You need to remember three core ideas with Flow notes: to make your notes simple, visual, and inter-connected. The goal is not transcribing but rather understanding what is being taught.
If you are new to Flow Notes and find it hard to implement, consider easing it into your existing system. You can do this by taking notes in your usual style but after the session, create a quick flow diagram with essential ideas and connections.
As with most note-taking systems, Flow Notes do come with their disadvantages, and the most important one is not being able to capture the session comprehensively. We can tackle this by identifying gaps and filling it in from the source or the closest things to it; notes from a peer, textbooks, lesson digests, etc.
Finally, you can use spaced repetitions to make your notes memorable for the long term. You can also use it in conjunction with another system like the Cornell Method.
All said and done; Flow Notes can be a valuable tool if you are interested in active learning. If you liked this blog post, consider following us on LinkedIn & Twitter, we post similar content there as well.