How to Formulate Your Framework of Learning (every elite thinker has one)

Alternate title: The best article ever written about optimizing your learning process and becoming smarter than 99% of people.

Framework of learning notes

I was watching the new X-Men movie with some friends recently.

There was a scene early on in that movie where the villain, Apocalypse, touches a TV, and the young mutant Storm asks him, “What are you doing?“.

Apocalypse answers: “I… am…..LEARRNINGG!”

And just like that, Apocalypse had learned everything there was to know about mankind for the last 2000 years (while he was asleep). A few seconds later he formulates a master plan for conquering the world.

When I went home that night, I got curious and read up on some things.

For example… did you know that Marvel (which is behind X-Men) is the biggest and most profitable comic book company?

Or that DC Comics (which owns Batman, among others) is #2?

Or. . . that Disney owns Marvel and many other companies? 1

To Learn Optimally You Need a System, and…

Like Apocalypse, I too, have my secret ways for learning.

–A Framework for Learning.

You need one of these as soon as possible in life.

I realized this when I was around 20.

It was perhaps one of the most important turning points of my life, but there was nothing to indicate it.

It was totally undramatic.

Sometimes making progress is just about keeping your head down.

Why formulate a “Framework of Learning,” and what does it entail?

A Framework of Learning is a systematic way for screening out useless info and memorizing the most useful information.

It’s 100 % achievable by anyone (who’s willing to do the brain-work required).

And the reason you want one ASAP is because it’s one of these things that really SCALE over time. So the earlier in life you formulate your own Framework of Learning, the more you stand to gain from it.

Nothing compounds like knowledge.

–Except perhaps money.

Crafting Your Master Katana

Framework of learning crafting your katana

Everyone has an optimal learning strategy.

. . . but most people don’t take the time to find it.

Japanese katanas are some of the coolest objects made by man.

Katanas are now relatively cheap and easy to come by because they are mass-produced.

The average person cannot tell the difference between a mass-produced katana, and a katana that has been crafted by a swordmaster.

The mass-produced katana will rust and break. And it weighs too much.

The swordsmaster’s katana will never break down or rust. It will move through the air with elegance and cut anything that crosses its path to pieces.

The public education system pops out people that are like these mass-produced katanas. They’re mentally dull.

You want to be like the swordsmaster’s katana; elegant and incisive.


A katana is made by hammering on a piece of metal.

Your Framework of Learning is the hammer and the idea is the metal.

The master swordsman knows how and when to apply just the right amount of force behind his blows.

He knows when to keep hammering and when to follow his inspiration and do something eccentric. He also knows when to stop hammering and put the piece of metal in cold water, allowing for it to harden into shape.

The art of learning is exactly like that.

The experienced learner, with an eye apt for ideas, knows when something is useful and relevant. He also knows exactly how to hammer that idea into his long-term memory, with the help of his Framework of Learning.

The “cool-down period” translates into (a) waiting for the next blow and (b) summoning your subconscious to synthesize the idea into context with information you already know.

This happens most easily during flow-inducing activities such as:

  • Meditation
  • Working out
  • Relaxing
  • Walking, running, swimming

My 7-Step Framework of Learning

It’s not easy to craft a master katana, but once you have it, you can slice through the complexity in life with an ease that causes others to marvel.

Here are the 7 steps I go through to craft the katana:

  1. Taking in the information.
  2. Taking notes.
  3. Reviewing your notes.
  4. Summarizing the key takeaways.
  5. Teaching it to someone else.
  6. Building a rich bank of associations.
  7. Integrating the idea/info with your commonplace.

The first 5 steps are about spaced repetition. Each repetition represents a blow from my hammer.

The last 2 steps are synergistic complements. They represent the cool-down period, which boost synthesis.

The reason my Framework of Learning works is because it’s based on 3 fundamental cognitive processes:

  1. Spaced repetition–to hammer in the idea.
  2. Association–to increase mental serendipity.
  3. Filtering processes–to ensure that we only deal with gold.

I believe tranquillity is nothing but the fine ordering of the mind… He who follows reason in all things is both tranquil and active at the same time, and also cheerful and collected.
Marcus Aurelius 

Step 1: Taking in the Information

My preferred way for taking in information is to read high quality books, exhaustive articles, or summaries of either.

I am not a very fast reader. Perhaps slightly above average. However, and more importantly, my retention is excellent.

When you’re reading–or taking in information of any sort–there are 3 things to keep in mind. And they are in order of importance:

  1. Filtering out the crap to find the gold.
  2. Assigning importance and deciding when to read.
  3. Reading and applying your Framework of Learning.

To filter out the crap and find the gold, you need to learn basic speed-reading.

All You Need to Know About Speed-Reading in 30 Seconds:

framework of learning how to read non-fiction2-kortare

When you’ve done this enough times, you should be able to get a basic understanding of a book in about 1 minute.

The Purpose of Speed-Reading:

Many people misunderstand speed-reading. They think it’s some kind of magic pill. The truth is, speed-reading is only good for filtering purposes. You use it to quickly ascertain the importance of some written material, and then you decide whether or not to continue reading.

You do not use speed-reading for learning purposes.

To give you some sense of perspective, you should spend 5% of your time skimming material and the other 95% on reading and processing it through the necessary steps of your Framework of Learning (depending on how important the material is).

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and a few to be chewed and digested.”
Francis Bacon

Gold books are to be chewed and digested.

How to Rank the 4 Types of Information by Order of Importance/Quality:

  1. Gold books (original books with multiple ideas).
  2. Special purpose books (typically biographies and “how-to” material).
  3. One-idea books (books that take 150+ pages to describe something that could be said in 1 page).
  4. Crap. (99% of all content–especially online).

Think 80/20 and limit your reading to gold books and special-purpose books.

Try to avoid one-idea books and crap. There are some good one-idea books out there, but most are simply not worth the time. Reading a summary of the book, or a blog post about it, is often a better idea.

Framework of learning reading and notes

Step 2: Taking Notes

Most people think taking notes is boring and tiresome. Not me.

When I take notes I think of it as hammering the idea into my brain.

Take notes as often as you can. Having a commonplace is a must for this reason, because then you can organize and access your notes for the rest of your life. It scales nicely over time.

Now for 3 tips on proper note-taking:

1) Always Write 30-Second Summaries:

Do it after reading an article, a book chapter, listening to a podcast, attending a meeting, listening to a lecture, and so on…

This simple little trick might be the most important “learning hack” out there.

Lee Kuan Yew did it all his life. So did Nixon. Both men noted that most other great leaders (over the age of 40) did not have the same mental sharpness as they did, and therefore had to rely on assistants to a higher degree.

Doing 30-second summaries is more important now than ever before. We are deluged with excessive amounts of shallow, useless information. Having a computer with Internet access is a wonderful thing, in theory. . .

. . . unfortunately, most people don’t know how to conduct themselves online.

When I read things on the Internet, I typically just search for some information and make a checklist of what I need (a 30-sec summary). . .

. . . then I’m on my way!

2) Learn Color Coding:

Color coding makes it easier for your brain to process information.

Once you learn to associate a color with a certain category of information, you don’t have to expend precious brain-space for putting that information in its correct context.

Color coding also makes it easier (and faster) to review old notes.

I recommend buying multi-colored pens. These two are the ones I use:

  1. Blue, green, red, black.
  2. Purple, teal, pink, light blue.

A photo posted by LudvigSGM (@ludvigsunstrom) on

Deciphering my color code:

  • Blue/grey for normal text.
  • Light blue for quotes.
  • Red for important things.
  • Green for chapter names/headlines.
  • Purple for key takeaways.
  • Pink for mental models, ideas, or new things.

3) Always Write Down New Words

Either do it as you go along, or list them all together at the last page of the book (if it’s a physical book).

If you have a commonplace, you can keep a section with all new words you learn and go through it once per month.

Step 3: Reviewing Your Notes

You’ve now delivered two blows with the hammer: Reading and writing.

–It is now time for blow #3.

Other than the obvious benefit of spaced repetition,  another benefit of reviewing your notes is that it may give you a new perspective; freed from the initial complexity of having had to learn the material the first time.

On a second review, it may become clear that you were over-weighing some specific information (typically due to being focused on a particular goal at the time of reading).

Reviewing your notes is most useful for gold books.

On a second review, your interpretation of the material may be different. It will be simpler and more concrete, as an effect of having screened away the initial clutter from the first read.

Here’s an example of something I thought was extremely funny when I first read it, but on a second glance I realize it’s completely useless information:

Framework of learning -- Solkungen

The text is in Swedish. Here’s a direct translation:

“Ludvig [king of France] was 58 years old and an old man for his age. He was incredibly fat, but despite this enormous corpulence his appearance was marked by great dignity, rooted in a strong self-esteem and a complete absence of every doubt regarding the righteousness of his demands and the inviolate nature of his position.”

Step #4: Writing Book Summaries

This is the 4th–and most powerful–blow with the hammer.

Except for repetition, there are two more benefits to writing a book summary:

  1. It forces you to filter out the fluff and prioritize the useful info.
  2. It remains as high quality material for future reference.

Start keeping a “Book Summary” section inside your commonplace or buy an empty book and fill it up. Maybe do both. You need to do at least one.

If a book is good, it should always be summarized.

framework of learning my book summary books

[Pictured: My book summary books and their TOCs of~200 book summaries.]

If a book is great, then–in addition to being summarized–it should also be re-read at some point in the future.

When you summarize the book, always keep in mind: “Will this information be useful or interesting to me 5-15+ years from now?”

To learn more read: How to Keep a Book Summary Book

Step #5: Teach it to Someone Else

It has been said that if you can’t explain a subject to someone else, then you don’t know the subject well enough.

So write a blog post. Shoot a video. Give a speech. Tell a friend. Make an infographic. . .

. . . or whatever your preferred medium is for sharing the information with someone else.

If you think this wouldn’t work for you, then look no further than at the system we use to teach indoctrinate doctors.

Learn one, do one, teach one.

After this procedure, the information sticks–sometimes a bit too well. 2

That concludes the first 5 steps of my Framework of Learning.

A Brief Note on These First 5 Steps

All these first 5 steps have to do with hammering in the idea until it sticks in your brain. The more important something is, the more steps you put it through. However. . .

Most things don’t qualify for going through more than the first 1-2 steps of my Framework of Learning. (If even that.)

For those times when you come across really powerful ideas, you want to have a structured process for hammering it into your head. Forever.

The more sophisticated your eye for idea becomes, the more you’ll be able to use your Framework of Learning. You should not ever have to read crap.

For the last two steps: They act as synergistic compliments, and everyone should use them to some extent.

Framework of learning association

Step #6: Building a Rich Bank of Associations

Most people believe that most of their thinking is self-willed.

They are wrong.

Most of the thinking we do stems from subconscious factors. The thought process is originally nothing but an advanced coping mechanism for helping the human animal to better maintain homeostasis.

Probably the biggest subconscious trigger behind our thinking (and certainly the easiest one to manipulate) is the associations we have.

Retail stores know this when they place the milk in the back of the store. This forces you to walk past lots of other stuff, which triggers associations in your brain, making you “remember” your need for these products. You go in for some milk and you walk out of there with some broccoli and dark chocolate.

There are many ways to practice associative learning.

In my opinion, the top 3 are:

  1. Studying history.
  2. Being mindful of Dunbar’s Number.
  3. Studying successful people.

By mastering these three principles, you’ll significantly improves the chances of triggering a benevolent thought pattern via association. This increases your serendipity of becoming an elite thinker. 3

1) Studying History:

The similarities you spontaneously notice.

Nothing is new under the sun.

Reading history and biographies has excellent transferability and it will make you more successful in other areas of life also.

The study of history allows you to pick up on similarities and subtle patterns. When other people are easily deceived and misdirected, you go, “Hey, this is like that time in the early industrial revolution when….”

Associative learning is like being out on the sea and casting out a net.

Like I’ve said before:

On a neurological level, what’s happening in your brain is this: You build up a large web of neural pathways. Kind of like a net. Then when you cast that net out into the sea you can more easily catch fish because your net now has hooks in it!
Sea = Information
Catch fish = Learn and remember
Hooks = Associations

The best way to acquire these “hooks” is by reading history and biographies.

In my commonplace, I keep a section specifically for collecting trivia. I have like 500 notes; all of which act as “hooks” to help me memorize some big idea.

(I also have further categories for these trivia, for easy overview, in case I need to use them to explain something or illustrate a point.)

framework of learning 500 trivia notes

2) Being Mindful of Dunbar’s Number

Your peer group (as perceived and imagined).

The human brain is limited to ~150 people4 that it automatically compares itself to, trusts inherently, and thinks about from time to time via association.

In cave man days, these 150 spots were all occupied by our tribesmen.

Today, for most people, these 150 spots are taken up by:

  • Brands.
  • Actors playing pretend roles.
  • Celebrities and other highly publicized personalities.
  • People they vaguely know who post ego pictures on social media.

When you’re not mindful of your Dunbar’s Number, you’re giving away the most valuable real-estate that exists.

For free.

Andas if it couldn’t get worsenot only are you letting others5 benefit (financially) off of your stupidity, but you’re also limiting your brain’s ability to think properly.

Those 150 spots should be reserved only for family, close friends, and role-models (dead or alive).

Read more: “How to Use Dunbar’s Number to Create Your Own Reality”

3) Studying Successful People

Role models and anti-role models.

Learn from the successes of the best in history and study their failures so that you can avoid making them.

Read : “Why You Should Compare Yourself to the Greatest Men in History”

Step #7: Integrating The Ideas With Your Commonplace

Every valuable piece of information I come across gets filed into my commonplace for life-long access.

framework of learning integrate with your commonplace

[The main interface of my Evernote commonplace (where I do most of my work and studies). Right click “view image” for full screen.]

For the important and useful ideas, I create an appropriate list:

  • A list of best practices (for understanding).
  • A list of examples (for association).
  • A checklist (for application).

If something is REALLY important, I may build an entire system around it.

I’ve done this for all my major projects, as well as for all major cognitive biases and mental models. These systems are to be updated and used for the rest of my life.

That concludes the 7 steps of my Framework of Learning.

How to Use This

Copy what you need to build your own Framework of Learning.

It will scale for the rest of your life.

The first 5 steps (banging the hammer) can be modified, but everyone can and should use the last 2 steps (controlling associations and commonplacing) for their Framework of Learning.

“What if I’m Starting from Scratch?”

It took me well over a year before I was able to put all of these pieces together into a coherent framework and master it.

Here’s how I would do it step-by-step if I were to start over:

  1. Read regularly (at least 30 minutes per day, or the equivalent weekly).
  2. Do 30-second summaries and book summaries.
  3. Start a commonplace.
  4. Learn the basics of speed-reading to not waste time on crap info.
  5. Create a method for note-taking on computer and/or physically.


Do you already have a framework of learning?

If so, please describe it.

The Ultimate Commonplace System:

A system for every important area in your life and a must for knowledge workers and professional creatives. Learn to:
  • Build a commonplace from scratch
  • Work from your phone (if your job deals with info & ideas)
  • Store everything you learn & never lose an idea
  • Create an archive that grows in value over time
  • Stop stuffing your head with trivialities
  • Organize your life & work to save +10 hours per week

* * *

Check out the Top Posts

Subscribe to my Newsletter (I only send emails a few times per year)

* * *

  1. Like Lucasfilm and Pixar… Disney is becoming one heck of a powerful corporation, nearing a monopoly on popular culture through its influence over movie production and such.

  2. (This is why the medical community isn’t exactly known for its open-mindedness.)

  3. Newton may have been “lucky” to have had that proverbial apple fall on his head, (which triggered associations that made him intuit the idea of gravity) but there was nothing lucky about his putting in many years of rigorous brain-work prior to that serendipitous moment. 

  4. or fictive entities perceived as people or personalities. This is a BIG caveat.

  5. *cough* Mark Fuckerberg *cough* 


  1. Hi Ludvig,

    Thank you for sharing this article. Interesting to read with the lighhearted intro mixed in with the insightful thoughts on formulating a framework for learning.

    My takeaway for me is that I will think of my own system of saving information I find valuable enough to apply when I can and need.

    Again, thanks for the read.

  2. Zachery Moy says


    I’m going back to school for technology. I want to thank you for inspiring me to do so through your Future Skills Podcast! Lambda School is an alternative school that has revolutionary ideas like Income-Share Agreements and mastery based learning. It’s kind of ironic because I agree with you that the school system is a failure but here I am going back to school to make even more money!

    I have essentially signed my life away for a hard 9 months! Oh and I haven’t forgotten about your mentorship program. I hope to get accepted into a future slot and crush all expectations!

  3. Great article Ludvig, really filled in the cracks of my own framework.

    Are your summarys in a seperate book from your book notes?

    • Both.
      For physical books I read, I like to write physically (if something is very actionable I’d add it to a checklist inside my commonplace too). For books I read on my computer, I do it in my commonplace. For book summaries I skim on Blinkist, I have it automatically set up to be integrated into my commonplace under a special tag.

      • Thanks for clarifying that Lidvig, I do similar.

        For articles and books I have physical summary books which includes a 30 second summary. For Podcasts I take notes on paper then transfer to my commonplace.

        After this I then transfer the notes again into my Commonplace (in a shorter form). By doing this I realised I took too much notes in the first place(15+ pages on average) and have since cut down the amount of notes I take.

        As you suggested using a multi-colured pen helps my note-taking. Black- insights/quotes; Blue – text; Red – Titles/Chapters and Green – things to CSS.

      • The notes you write down on paper, do you keep them or throw them away after summarising? How about your associations and quotes?

      • I keep them, I have a bunch of notebooks from over the last 5 years. But I don’t return to them often at all.

        For associations and quotes, they are like training wheels. I use them in checklists and commonplace systems to jump-start my thinking. It’s just a way to boost memory recall.

  4. Here’s something cool I aim to experiment with in the future; Make an audio recording of you asking yourself key questions to retain information better.

    Time riding a bike, on the bus, walking & in the car is mostly wasted whilst it can be used for recollecting essential information (or otherwise podcasts).

    • While riding a bike or driving a car, really? The latter can get
      somebody killed, and in the former case somebody will be you.

      It’s a good idea to use deadtime productively, though. I sometimes
      meditate during meetings. No doubt other people sometimes meditate
      during /my/ meetings.

    • That’s really thnkinig out of the box. Thanks!

  5. Great post, and really looking forward to The Ultimate Commonplace System.

    When reading I also take notes of any interesting thoughts that come up, in a different colour. This is to ‘save’ them but it’s also a form of metacognition when you look back months later.

    One of the thoughts I colour code are comparisons to other things I’ve read or experienced – similarities, but also contradictions between different sources. By bridging different kinds of books it also strengthens my associations.

  6. This is phenomenal. I have wide-reaching interests and naturally form associations between many different things – however it often feels as if my mental models & thought processes would benefit from a lot more structure.

    Hence, being very excited about TUCS.

    I have a question: do you have any specific recommendations on logic/mental models/critical thinking in order to improve accuracy of thought?

    I feel as though I have the ability to collect and synthesise vast amounts of information down pat, just need to sharpen the logic sword in order to use this more effectively.


    • Re accurate thinking:

      1) Master all logical fallacies. (Takes only a few days, they are easy).
      2) Master all cognitive biases. (Takes MUCH longer, but is infinitely more valuable).

      • Dude. No.

        What do you mean by master? Kahneman said in his book Thinking Fast and Slow that even after his accumulation of experience he is still prone to cognitive biases. Unless he deliberately slows down and thinks, he makes the same mistakes we do.

        Please be more specific Ludvig. Also, if you have found a valid workaround, please make a post on it. This is a very important topic, and your readers will surely benefit.


      • Hey Marcus,

        You are right. “Master” is not an appropriate word. What I really meant was: *study it very hardcore until you feel that you understand it by heart and can recognize it in yourself and others on a frequent basis*. And Kahneman is correct that it’s impossible to practice away fully (but it suuure goes a long way in improving your ability to think straight).

        That being said, I stand by what I said re: logical fallacies. They are many, many times simpler than cognitive biases. It did not take me more than a few days to learn. But perhaps the reason for my fast learning curve there was because I already had practiced the cognitive biases so much (and they’re pretty much the same).

        And, yes, I do have specific workaround(s) for this–mainly a practical system of checklists–but I don’t plan to write about that or share it anytime soon. It might be a future product or business idea, but it’s too long and difficult to put in one article.

        I’ll tell you this though: The majority of the checklists have the following structure, in case you want to build some of your own:
        1) Descriptio
        2) Examples/spontaneous associations
        3) Protect against
        4) Use
        5) Implications
        6) Tends to work in combination with.

      • Ludvig,

        Thanks for at least sharing that (the structure of your checklist) – I believe the information is too valuable to you for you to share wholly.
        I agree with you about the logical fallacies part.
        How do you use these checklist things to prevent the influence of cognitive biases (please give me a specific example)?
        Do you apply them whenever you are making important decisions?
        And do certain cues (stimuli) cue (trigger) you to the fact that you may be under the influence of certain cognitive biases?
        How do you know whether your progress in recognising cognitive biases is not just an example of confirmation bias – where a few examples of success in recognising biases in you or others convince you to believe you have in essence ‘mastered’ the art of recognising the cues, but you just don’t remember the times when you didn’t recognise the cue, which could still be quite a lot – meaning your ROI is very low on the effort you put in for getting to the point that you can spontaneously recognise the cues that show that you are under the influence of cognitive biases?
        Of course the ROI is dependent on the gravity of the situation, and thinking slower during important decisions would increase the ROI of your effort.

        I hope what I wrote makes sense to you – the last part looks like a mishmash to me, even though I get what I mean.


  7. Thanks for the advice. The Ultimate Commonplace System looks cool also, can’t wait to hear more.

  8. I’ve never given much thought to my framework of learning, but I do have some established patterns that I think are useful:

    1. Like Peter, I try to get different perspectives on things. This goes beyond just different opinions. There are vastly different ways of looking at things – for instance, do you approach economics via mathematical models, or as one aspect of a sociological structure? Is religion a belief set, or an institution?

    2. Writing about a topic is a way of clarifying my understanding (or, sometimes, of discovering the lack of said understanding). Unless you’re a journalist, it’s hard to put incoherent nonsense in writing without forcing yourself to think about it. I have learned to organize my thoughts about subjects in coherent narrative form, /as if/ I was writing about them, usually without ever typing anything out. Writing takes the mind out of neutral and puts it in gear.

    P.S. I’ve learned a fair amount about how I learn, just in the process of writing this long-winded comment.

    3. Teaching is a very effective way to solidify and retain understanding – /after/ the subject has been well learned. I find it useful to imagine trying to explain something, before actually (if ever) trying to teach it. What relatively few opportunities there are for real life teaching are likely to end in embarrasment if your understanding is not already perfect. At uni, I participated in every “study” and “homework” group to which I was invited. This forced me to master the material well enough to help the other students with the most difficult problems.

    4. I try to look at everything I encounter impartially. This means not just avoiding biases toward confirmation or self interest, but biases toward agreeing with others (or toward disagreeing with them; it can be painful to have to agree with an asshole), or accepting whatever is the easiest (like taking “authorities” on their own word).

    5. I don’t screen the things I read nearly as finely as Ludvig does, though I do generally ignore anything related to contemporary popular culture or anything that is plainly mere marketing. I read a great variety of things, even sometimes including palpable rubbish (William Hudson, Ayn Rand, Karl Marx, Buckminster Fuller) and a lot of things I have no possible use for (like most of Wikipedia). There is a certain breadth of education that you can’t get by reading only intelligent authors or (worse) only authors that you already agree with about things that you are already interested in from perspectives that you already grasp. Quantity reading, combined with variety, may be inefficient for some purposes but it does offer some advantage over excessive selectivity.

    6. I do cherry pick, though. I have read parts of far more books than I have read entire. I look through tables of contents, skim, read sections, look at tables and diagrams, and if I find myself interested enough to work backwards from wherever I started, /then/ I might start at the beginning.

    7. I don’t generally take notes. I do stop to contemplate things as I read them, if they are interesting; I like to consider how the information could be used or abused, how it integrates with (or contradicts) other things, etc. Also I usually read a lot more details then I will ever remember. I find that spending time delving into a subject helps with remembering the important points, even if most of the information is utter trivia and soon forgotten.

    8. Most importantly, I analyze everything and leave no stone unturned to uncover any fault in fact or reasoning. If it’s a technical concept, I don’t give up until I understand it. I hate to leave a problem unsolved; I’m the kind of guy who takes things apart just to learn how to put them back together – intellectual constructs as well as physical objects.

  9. You were right. That is a lot of detailed info. I think I’ll return to this many more times.

  10. Never heard of this before.

  11. Some of the best of SGM so far. Like a purely actionable compilation of many of your other ideas which may otherwise be misinterpreted as philisophical/theoretical.

  12. Hammers in my head by miracle of sound; a great hook to help strengthen the katana analogy ;)

  13. Hi Ludwig,

    great post, really appreciate it. Two suggestions that may help you.

    1. I saw the picture of your desk. Reminded me of mine with one key exception. A badass high definition monitor. I can strongly recommend setting up a permanent large screen wherever you sit to work regularly. There is lots of evidence that your reading capacity (how much you can take in) and acuity (how accurately you absorb information) is increased with larger (up to 28″). The difference in productivity for writing is remarkable (or at least, I found it to be).
    2. You may be interested in this, which is an implementation of the GTD framework for Evernote. It helps integrate daily and weekly task planning with your Commonplace (for example, for logging and cross referencing emails that you have sent regarding a project to the research notes you keep for the same purpose). I implemented it a couple of months ago and find it invaluable for reducing the attentional load involved in managing multiple projects at the same time.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hey Kelvin,
      Thanks for the tips. I might get one of those monitors sooner or later (although I don’t like to own more gadgets than I can easily pack).

      “The difference in productivity for writing is remarkable (or at least, I found it to be).”

      –That’s very compelling.

      As for “The Ultimate Weapon”, I checked it out while first learning about Evernote and putting together my best practice document. However, I am not interested in GTD systems, especially not for commonplacing. I want that to be focused purely on creativity and ideation (to think up effective solutions) not about efficiency and to-dos.

  14. An excellent initiative (albeit one that I suspect may go lost on many of the less serious readers of your site).

    I don’t have any Framework of Learning of my own.

    Do you have more methods or advanced frameworks like this one for other areas of life?

  15. Lol you have given quite a bit of thought to this. If I am like you (I think so) do you think I should just copy your whole Framework outright?

    Also appreciate the heads up for the bonuses.

  16. This is very helpful, I do not have a Framework of Learning, but will practice this now. Thanks for sharing.

  17. For me, I have found out that if you want to learn about a certain concept, you need to read about it from different sources. This way you get exposed to that concept from different perspectives and solidify it in your brain. Also if you then use that concept in an example that you thought up yourself (or explain it to someone else at least), then you start understanding it a lot better.

    The key for me when learning about something is to try to find some very good (but different) source materials that you can use. It’s amazing how at first you might not understand what the concept is about, but when you read it about it several times, things start clicking in your head, as if by magic. :)

    • I totally agree, Peter. Never take it from just one source. I often do this too.

      • It helps to be able to sustain interest in one or a few subjects for some time. Another important thing along these lines is–a mistake most people make–is to stop and lose interest the moment they find confirmatory evidence (on their first Google).

    • I find this great. It’s sort of using your desire for novelty in a good way. During my high school I usually read the lecture only once (and take simple notes), twice if it’s complicated. New repetitions just for the sake of remembering are better when reading from another source because it is easier to concentrate and make new connections. It worked particularly well for history.

      But it could also be a waste of time – meaning reading to much on things you probably don’t need and feeling good about it (I think you have article on this). E.g. if I’m going to read something about productivity I can assume that Cal Newport read everything before him and just read his book. I can learn about Kahneman’s work maybe better by reading a good summary and taking notes from it. I like to call it ‘trust the expert’ heuristics.

      • Yeah especially history is good for this type of thing. There are always little nuances and things that happened and when you read about it from different sources, you start getting a better idea of the various contexts and that helps you learn about the event.

        As for things such as productivity and whether you should read about it from different sources. I think it helps and will let you pick a system which is more suited for your needs. Most works, even if they are really excellent, suffer from things such as selectivity biases and confirmation biases.

        For Kahneman’s work, I have found it helpful to read about it from different sources and through different examples. Also, the same concepts are sometimes used in other works, but under different names and if you connect these two together, then you get a much better perspective on the actual applications in real life of these different concepts. :)

        I guess it also depends on priorities as well. We only have limited time and need to make priorities and sometimes you might not have time to read about a subject several times and so you need to make a choice whether to do that or concentrate on something else.

      • Yes, I was talking mostly about prioritizing.

  18. You have in place clearly one of the most powerful frameworks I have ever encountered. Well done. By the way, one more useful learning method is the Feynman technique. It goes something like this: Step 1. Understand the concept concretely (similarly to the method you suggest) Step 2. Explain it like I’m five years old (Pinpoint knowledge gaps, use analogies, and simplify the concept as much as possible)

    • Thanks, Andrian.

      I heard about the “Feynman technique” somewhere, but forget where. Interesting. He’s also famous for saying, “If I can’t build it, I don’t understand it”, so I figured it was about that.

  19. Awesome, been waiting on you to write a new essay. This is some mind-blowingly useful tips and they come at a nice time for me.

    Some months ago I read a book about learning methods to prepare myself for university and the big thing I learned from it was similar to the doctor example you give with different sorts of spaced repetition. But now I understand how to “put it all together”. So thanks for that.

    Speaking of university, are you gonna write another post like the last one, but about elite schools and such? And what you’d do if you were to start studying again, with recommendations and such?

    Since I’m already on the waiting list so that means I’ll get the bonuses right?

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