Although the flow method is a non-standard way of taking notes, it tends to be very effective. Note-taking with the flow method helps take in information and supports the memorisation process. You can use it when working with a text or listening to short speeches.

Let’s go back to school for a moment. As per the established habit, everyone in the classroom (okay, maybe except those at the last desk ;)) was writing down what the teacher was saying or dictating. Our notebooks were thus filled with a perfect representation of what we’d heard and how. Consequently, our notes from class resembled stories: they had introductions, main bodies, endings, and potential conclusions. What were we doing when the teacher was giving key information? We were writing, of course – automatically and without any deeper comprehension.

The flow method stands in contrast to that kind of linear note-taking. What is it about? The idea behind the flow method is to first get to know the information and process it in your head before writing it down. Most importantly – you write down only the things that you were able to process and understand.

According to the flow method principles, you should first read or listen to the entire text, and then figure out what to write down and how. It requires concentration and taking a moment to think, but the benefits can be surprising.

The biggest advantage of this method is that it forces you to be active – to listen and read with intent. This kind of commitment translates into a better understanding of information and boosts memorisation. We “process” and “filter” the content, and only then write it down – over the entire page, and not line by line like at school. We assign the data to different spots, just as we’ve remembered it.

How should you try this method in practice? You need the correct space on your sheet of paper, it’s worth starting around the centre of the page. Write down pieces of information at some distance from each other. Mark the meaning and cohesion of elements intuitively, e.g. with arrows. Leave extra space for comments or questions.

Of course, the flow method has its limits. It’s hard to use when there’s a lot of data and you can’t get back to it. Remembering its basic principles is worth it, though: active listening means more effective notes and rarer repetitions.