Reviewing your digital notes

Reading the Jethro’s blog post, I got excited about the notes review. Here is the quoted text:

I think Org-roam has already nailed the part on creating and linking notes, but it could certainly do better in surfacing notes for review

It is kind of a teaser and I am excited about it. I wanted to know from the community, what are you doing for reviewing your notes?

I have been reading about digital garden, which I feel org-roam notes qualify as and I am trying to see how everyone is tending to their digital garden. I can think of something like space-repetition software which is all doable as all the notes are stored in a database.

I’m maintaining a daily habit of running org-roam-node-random and review the text:

  • adding / removing info with new insights
  • adding links that were not possible / apparent at the time of creating the node
  • spell checking

Thanks. How many do you review in a day? And what are the chances of random frequently returning the same node again and again?

I usually review one node (not note) every day. With about 1000 nodes, there’s a quite a chance that you’ll encounter the same node more than once in a year’s time (consider it a Bernoulli trial).

The probability of getting the same node decreases as you add new ones.

However, I don’t consider it to be a bad thing to get the same node once in a while. Oftentimes, a second review is still valuable, to add new insights you gained since the first review.

I find this stochastic approach work better for me. It doesn’t take much time, while slowly but steadily all areas / topics in my roam get reviewed. So there is no bias of topic selection, which would easily be the case when choosing nodes in some non-stochastic fashion.

Thanks for the insight. I will play with org-roam-node-random.

I use the random not feature a lot to help me rediscover old thoughts. From there I snowball through the digital garden.

This method can seem like a distraction as I am more often than not off topic from my current focus, but creativity is about making connections.

To add structure, I use a category link at the start of the node and starting to use file tags more.


I used to have an extremely deliberate and believe it or not spiritual review process. Today I have a fairly cursory but enjoyable one involving git.

My deliberate review process, back when I was trying to understand the meaning of life, the universe and everything, was a combination of meditation, reading and writing. I was using Freeplane at the time, which is far weaker than org-roam but does have the advantage that mandala-like, staring-worthy lists and trees emerge naturally from the UI as you work on an idea. Much of the time was spent trying to elaborate on the union of two ideas, sometimes because it occurred to me naturally, sometimes because the app spurred me to think about it. Much of the time was also spent creating lists – “kinds of historical events”, “my values”, “aspects of interpersonal relationships”, almost anything.

I spend my free time elsewhere now, and my notes are very functional – all about getting stuff done, very little about recording things with low obvious otential. But every Monday I create a backup, and the biggest part of that work is to commit the changes in my knowledge graph to git. This requires me to (1) review all the changes I made over the last week, and (2) edit things appropriately until I think the changes are responsible – things are well-filed, missing information is filled in, etc. It’s not the mystical experience it used to be but it’s very satisfying.

Interesting you mention Freeplane. I still use it to create new articles and books, copying ideas from my notes.

I like the flexibility of creating non-linear trees, so I can see the structure on page.

Do you know if there is an easy way to export Freeplane to Org mode or markdown?

My notes are checked into git. I used to do weekly git check-in, but with org-roam, I am writing more and checking into git more and more.

I do have a habit of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly review time. So I can build something into my workflow to review my notes. I was thinking how to find the notes updates in last month or so and your idea of git is superb. I will find some git commands to find all the notes updates in last month or so and review them.

Thanks for the tip.

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You’re in luck! I wrote some code in Haskell last year to convert freeplane to org.

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Thanks for sharing. I started to write something similar in R (my weapon of choice).

Also playing with the mindmap editor in the Emacs Application Framework, which can export to org: