Evergreen notes are written and organized to evolve, contribute, and accumulate over time, across projects. This is an unusual way to think about writing notes: Most people take only transient notes. That’s because these practices aren’t about writing notes; they’re about effectively developing insight: “Better note-taking” misses the point; what matters is “better thinking”. When done well, these notes can be quite valuable: Evergreen note-writing as fundamental unit of knowledge work.
It’s hard to write notes that are worth developing over time. These principles help:
- Evergreen notes should be atomic
- Evergreen notes should be concept-oriented
- Evergreen notes should be densely linked
- Prefer associative ontologies to hierarchical taxonomies
- Write notes for yourself by default, disregarding audience
This concept evolves in large part from Niklas Luhmann’s Zettelkasten, which he regards as the independent intellectual partner in writing his 70 books. See Similarities and differences between evergreen note-writing and Zettelkasten
Implementing an evergreen note practice
Matuschak, Andy. n.d. “Evergreen Notes.” Andy’s Working Notes. Accessed February 22, 2022. https://notes.andymatuschak.org/Evergreen_notes.