The Ahrens’ Method

The sociologist Niklas Luhmann devised a system of note-taking that is still held in high regard decades after its genesis. Besides his elaborate system itself, there is much to learn from the way Luhmann treated note-taking. This includes treating note-taking as a process that facilitates new and creative ideas instead of simply being a repository of those we have already thought of. Taking notes demands a standardized workflow that must be followed to maximize productivity. We must also treat our notes as if they are going to be presented to an audience. This encourages us to compile them in a manner that is aesthetically and logically appealing enough to be revisited for future reference. The more notes we make, the better. As long as we have an efficient way to sort them, they are bound to be helpful to our purpose of learning. As we make more and more notes, we must also regularly appraise our progress and rectify any errors that might have previously escaped our notice.

Other useful tips for making effective notes include using abbreviations and shorthand to minimize the amount of space taken by words and denotations. Using different colors to highlight or mark unique sub-topics also aids us in accessing specific concepts within vast, complex subjects. Having said that, keep things as simple as you can. You don’t need an elaborate note-taking system if a minimal one does the trick.

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