Take notes to forget, not remember

Kara Monroe
2 min readMay 8, 2021
Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

In his article, The Case against Metadata Tagging in Roam, David Crandall discusses how he stopped trying to identify what metadata tags might describe a piece of information in his Roam graph; making the case for why he now relies on contextual tags. The article gave me an insight that the purpose of taking notes is not to remember — it is actually to forget. But to forget with intention.

I have notes strewn across notebooks, Evernote, Roam, and Notion. I also have countless digital files in Google Drive and some in OneDrive. There are a couple of Dropbox accounts hanging out with even more things in them. I even have an old 5 Terabyte hard drive here at the house that probably still has some things in it that hasn’t been replicated in one of these other locations.

This is in no way a well constructed second brain, but it is my second brain such as it is at the present time. It’s the external memory bank I’ve created for myself so that I don’t have to be burdened by remembering every task, recipe, memory, or important moment of insight or inspiration. It holds countless writing ideas, family and personal anecdotes, and more meeting notes than any one person should ever have to attend to. And the point of it is that it is there for me to not have to remember — but rather I can come back to it when inspiration strikes and I think about the project we did three years ago when we changed learning management systems at work or the vacation I took to the Med and some of the places I’d like to go back to again.

As I use this second brain more, and try to refine it a bit to make it easier for my first brain to figure out how to use it, I realize that putting the context for why I took a note with the note is increasingly important. Sometimes that context won’t matter at all but other times it helps me place the piece in the timeline of ideas and thoughts that makes up my life.

So, as you take notes in meetings, journal about your life, and capture all the little moments remember that the purpose of taking those notes is to give your brain the freedom to forget and create new ideas and make new connections.

Kara Monroe

I am a world traveler, part-time road warrior, and home body all wrapped up in one gadget-loving package. Writer, photographer, chef, and aspiring artist.