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Index Cards

Ryan Holiday is a big fan of index cards:

I used them myself for a period, mostly for taking quick notes and writing todo lists.

Ryan uses them for:

His books are then written by referring to those stacks of cards.

He talks of the thousand hours or more spent copying passages from books onto cards:

The only record I have are the thousands and thousands of cards, my sometimes aching hand, and possibly carpal tunnel syndrome.

This is my first problem with this system. I read on kindle, and can copy my highlights into a text document instantly. This prevents me getting carpal tunnel, saves hours of time, makes it easy to create backups, makes it easy to go back and edit things, makes it easy to link cards, etc. etc.

The advantages of digital are so huge that I can't believe index cards are better.

One case where I do think they are superior is for outlining a book/film/story. You can place some scenes on the table and move them around (like scrivener). I can imagine that this works better than doing it digitally. There may also be better retention if you copy things manually compared to copy-pasting, but I feel that re-processing cards and breaking the core ideas out into zetls also works well.

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Last modified 2019-08-16 Fri 16:28. Contact