Did you know journaling less might teach you more?

I have the recurring suspicion that we spend a lot of time doing what is essentially cargo cult work. It looks like work, but because we don’t understand how the work connects with a result, we’re actually play-acting. Going through the motions. What this last week taught me is that I was apparently play-acting note taking…


I use Readwise and Tana to collect highlights from things I consume. Notes from meetings, journaling for personal growth, everything that I might learn from goes in there.

The thoughts I collect are what end up on this blog, and in my newsletter. I didn’t make many notes this week, in fact on one day there’s just a single note. But in my weekly review, it turns out that I have learned about the same number of things as usual.


What I think is going on is that I’ve believed that more notes should mean more learning. But since our mind can only do one thing at a time, what is actually happening is that I’m spending a lot of time writing notes I will never use.

A stressful week resulted in me only taking down the things that are really important. Which is what I always want.

On the other hand, when I’m not writing notes all day long, it’s reasonable to assume that I’m not reflecting on my thoughts and might be spending the week thinking the same thing over and over again. Journaling is a very good method for avoiding this trap, which is why I believe journaling is so helpful for personal growth.

But again, I haven’t stopped journaling. I just journal less.

I’m about to leave on a two week trip to the US, and I think I will continue to journal daily, but not try to take a lot of notes. In note taking less really is more.