How to Take Smart Notes – Summary, Quotes, Notes

How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens is a game-changer when it comes to note-taking and personal development. The book provides practical strategies and techniques that can revolutionize the way we approach learning and creativity.

The author’s insights and real-life examples make the concepts easy to grasp and apply. After reading this book, I felt inspired and motivated to implement these strategies in my own life.

Top 3 Ideas

  • Taking smart notes is a powerful way to improve writing, reading, and learning skills.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of three types of notes: fleeting notes, literature notes, and permanent notes.
  • By implementing the principles of the slip-box method and breaking overwhelming tasks into smaller chunks, readers can boost their productivity and creativity.

Who Should Read It?

Anyone who wants to improve their writing, learning, and memory skills should read How to Take Smart Notes. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or someone who simply wants to enhance their knowledge retention, this book offers valuable insights and actionable tips. It is particularly beneficial for those who struggle with overwhelming tasks or writer’s block. By implementing the techniques outlined in the book, readers can unlock their full potential and achieve greater success in their academic and professional endeavors.

After reading How to Take Smart Notes, I realized the immense power of effective note-taking. The book has transformed the way I approach learning and writing. I now understand the importance of capturing fleeting thoughts and ideas, organizing them into literature notes, and developing them into permanent notes. This process has not only enhanced my understanding and retention of information but has also sparked new insights and connections. By implementing the slip-box method, I have created a valuable resource that I can refer to whenever I need inspiration or ideas. Overall, this book has empowered me to become a more efficient and effective learner and writer.

  • “Writing is not the result of our work, research, and learning – it is the medium through which it takes place.”
  • “Success does not come from having ‘Willpower’ or ‘grit’ – it comes from working in an environment with very little resistance, where you have learned how to deflect and remove it.”
  • “An idea kept private is as good as one you never had.”

Summary + Notes (Chapter by Chapter)


The introduction of How to Take Smart Notes highlights the importance of writing as a medium for all work, not just the end result. The author emphasizes that writing, note-taking, and drafting are vital components of the learning and creative process. The book aims to fill the gap between writing style and structure, providing practical strategies to efficiently turn thoughts and discoveries into convincing written pieces. It introduces the concept of the slip-box method and its role in organizing and developing notes for future use.

Part 1: The Three Types of Notes

Chapter 1: Fleeting Notes

Fleeting notes are the initial thoughts and ideas that occur to us while reading, watching, or listening. These notes capture the essence of our thoughts and serve as a starting point for further exploration. It is important to jot down these fleeting notes as they can lead to valuable insights and connections. While fleeting notes don’t go into the slip-box, they serve as a catalyst for developing more structured notes.

Chapter 2: Literature Notes

Literature notes are the distilled version of the content we consume. When reading a book or article, it is essential to highlight key points, write down summaries in our own words, and record references for future use. Literature notes provide a concise summary of the information we encounter and serve as a bridge between fleeting notes and permanent notes. These notes should be taken in a way that allows us to understand and connect with the material on a deeper level.

Chapter 3: Permanent Notes

Permanent notes are the cornerstone of the slip-box method. These notes are created by synthesizing and developing ideas from our literature and fleeting notes. Each permanent note should represent a single idea and be written as if explaining it to someone else. By organizing and linking these permanent notes, we create a network of interconnected ideas that can be accessed and developed over time. Permanent notes should be relevant to the topics we are working on and should be filed and linked to related notes for easy retrieval.

Part 2: The Slip-Box

Chapter 4: The Slip-Box as a Thinking Tool

The slip-box acts as an external thinking tool that compensates for the limitations of our brains. It provides a reliable and simple structure to organize and store our notes, ensuring they can be easily accessed and retrieved. The slip-box allows us to think beyond the text by making connections between different ideas and concepts. By storing and organizing our notes in the slip-box, we create a valuable resource that can spark creativity and provide inspiration when faced with writer’s block or information overload.

Chapter 5: The Slip-Box as a Writing Tool

The slip-box is not just a storage tool but also a powerful writing tool. By having a collection of well-developed permanent notes, we can structure and build our writing around these ideas. The slip-box serves as a repository of arguments, quotes, and insights that can be incorporated into our writing, making the writing process more efficient and effective. It allows us to dive into writing with a wealth of ideas and references at our fingertips, eliminating the fear of a blank page.

Part 3: Productivity and Creativity

Chapter 6: Breaking the Task into Small Steps

Tasks often feel overwhelming when viewed as a whole. To overcome this, it is essential to break tasks into smaller, manageable steps. By setting specific and achievable goals, we can make progress and build momentum. The author suggests committing to writing a certain number of pages per day or completing a specific portion of a project. By focusing on these smaller steps, we can overcome procrastination and increase productivity.

Chapter 7: The Importance of Structure

Structure plays a crucial role in productivity and creativity. By organizing our thoughts and ideas in a clear and logical manner, we can achieve flow and focus. Good structures allow complex content to be communicated effectively and enable us to concentrate on the task at hand. The slip-box provides a structure for organizing our notes, while also allowing flexibility for new connections and ideas to emerge. By having a clear structure in place, we can eliminate distractions and focus on the important elements of our work.

Chapter 8: Sharing Ideas

Ideas are meant to be shared. Keeping ideas private limits their potential impact and growth. By sharing our ideas with others, we invite feedback, collaboration, and the opportunity for further development. The slip-box serves as a tool for organizing and refining our ideas before sharing them with the world. Sharing ideas not only benefits others but also enhances our own understanding and perspective. It is through the exchange of ideas that true growth and creativity can occur.


How to Take Smart Notes offers a comprehensive guide to improving writing, learning, and creativity through effective note-taking strategies.

By implementing the principles of the slip-box method and breaking tasks into smaller steps, readers can enhance their productivity and unlock their full potential. The book emphasizes the importance of capturing fleeting thoughts, organizing literature notes, and developing permanent notes to create a valuable resource for future use. With practical tips and real-life examples, How to Take Smart Notes provides a roadmap for personal and professional growth. So, grab a pen and notebook, and start taking smart notes today!

About Author

I'm Shehraj Singh, I started the eReader.blog to help people learn more about eReader specifically Amazon Kindle, and help them fix any issues they may have.

I have a lot of experience with Kindle, and I want to share my knowledge with you so that you can make the most out of your device.

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