Your notes are not my notes

Mickey Mellen
2 min readDec 7, 2023

While sharing notes with other people can be helpful, it’s often troublesome because the notes that you take are generally far more valuable to you than anyone else. In his book “ Outsmart Your Brain “, author Daniel Willingham shares more:

The notes you get from someone else will not be the same as those you take yourself. Notes are cues that will jog your memory back to the understanding you had during class, and you’ve seen how particular those cues can be; grocery-deficit coffee is different from neighbor-gift coffee.

Good notes should speak for themselves, but there is always a bit more in our brain that gets triggered by the note that others won’t be able to see.

I’ve noticed this with our team; if one of us goes to a conference and comes back to share their notes, it’s just not nearly as effective as having been there ourselves. I’ve found that having more of us at the event leads to far greater understanding than one person trying to share some pieces of what they learned.

This is challenging, because the effort and cost for one person to attend an event and take notes is far less than for a group. At what scale does it pay off?

Over the years, this has somewhat limited to the events I’ve gone too when Ali is unable to attend with me. I know that going alone offers value, but it seems that going together offers 10x value (though it’s at least 10x the effort as well).

The best solution I can find is to take better, more comprehensive notes. I can still only share a fraction of the value, but I can do it in a fraction of the time. If someone misses a three-day event and I give them a 15 minute recap, that’s less than 1% of the time investment for them but hopefully a bit more than 1% of the value.

What do you do with your notes to make them more beneficial for others to read?

Originally published at https://www.mickmel.com on December 7, 2023.

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Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.