The OutlineEdit Way of Outlining
There are many ways of taking structured notes. This is the OutlineEdit method.
1. Collect Top Level Items
- Collect only top level items in your domain.
- Try to keep each shorter than a full sentence.
- Then bring top level items into an order that fits the task at hand – ordering is a first critical step in identifying an overall structure.
2. Add Detail, Keep Brief
- Add only the most important detail to each top level item, by adding indented subitems.
- Feel free to use short but complete sentences on this level for each item. Avoid multiple sentences in an item if possible.
- If there is logical structure in the detail, indent lower level items to a third level.
- Avoid more than two detail levels.
3. Everything Else goes into Notes and Attachments
- All longer form and rich content goes into item notes and image attachments.
- In contrast to subitems, notes and images are not hidden by collapsing the outline structure. Therefore think about the right place to add notes and images.
- Usually they should either go into the deepest level of the outline or add essential context to a higher level item.
- Avoid more than two attachments (note, images) per item.
4. Connect Related Things with Categories
- Create a named categories for each important concept that can appear in mutliple disconnected locations.
- Assign items to categories either by going sequentially through the outline or by iterating categories.
- If you ever want to assign multiple categories to an item, this is a sign to break it down into more subitems first.
5. Browse and Refactor
- Browse through your outline by folding its structure, hoisting item groups and filtering by categories.
- Balance out parts of the outline that have too many indentation levels by creating higher level detail items.
- If necessary, also introduce additional top level items. Make sure that this cannot be achieved by adding detail items first.
- If the association of items is stronger by category than by outline structure, consider making the category a top level item instead.
6. Track Progress
- Continuously reassign item categroies, if they are part of a progress tracking system.
- Use checkboxes to mark items as done.
- Break out open item groups into a new outline and begin again, if there is a significant imbalance of finished to open items.
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