Waste a Few Hours, so You Don't Waste Years - Darius Foroux

Alessio Frateily

Alessio Frateily

Feb 06, 20244 min read


Waste a Few Hours, so You Don't Waste Years - Darius Foroux

In the world of investing, there are individuals who have mastered the art of managing their emotions and sticking to their plans. One such person is Mohnish Pabrai, the founder of Pabrai Funds and author of The Dhando Investor. Pabrai is known for his stoic tendencies and his ability to make investment decisions without being swayed by market fluctuations. He follows the advice of Warren Buffett, who once said that investing is a no-called-strike game. This means that you don't have to swing at every opportunity that comes your way, but rather wait for the perfect pitch.

But what does this have to do with our daily lives? It's all about being aware of how we spend our time and energy. Successful individuals understand that personal energy is limited, and it's important to only spend it on things that truly matter. This brings us to the concept of "killing time with intention." Rather than mindlessly wasting time, we can choose to waste it deliberately and with intent, in order to enjoy our lives.

On the other hand, in the realm of knowledge management, there are different approaches to organizing and structuring information. One popular method is the P.A.R.A. system, which stands for Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archives. This system categorizes notes based on their actionability and provides a framework for resurfacing them when needed.

However, there is a more fundamental question to consider: how do we structure our notes in a way that makes them easily discoverable and usable in the future? This is where the concept of note-first knowledge management comes into play. Instead of relying on tags or notebooks, the focus is on designing individual notes in a way that maximizes their value.

There are two primary schools of thought when it comes to organizing notes: tagging-first and notebook-first. Tagging-first approaches argue that there should be no explicit hierarchy of notes, notebooks, and stacks. Notes are seen as interconnected ideas that can be discovered through multiple pathways. However, relying solely on tagging can be overwhelming and requires constant maintenance.

On the other hand, notebook-first approaches organize notes into discrete containers, much like the physical world. This approach is simpler and stays out of the way, but it may suppress serendipity and creativity.

A note-first approach offers a way to break the impasse. By focusing on the design of individual notes, we can create valuable, easily discoverable packets of knowledge. This approach has several advantages, including compatibility with other organizational systems, increased engagement with note content, and improved legibility for collaboration and sharing.

Designing discoverable notes requires striking a balance between compression and context. On one hand, we want to make our notes small, simple, and easy to digest. This involves using compression techniques to create condensed summaries. On the other hand, we also want to include enough context to make the notes understandable and valuable. Finding the right balance is crucial, as compressing a note too much can render it meaningless, while including too much context can make it overwhelming and less discoverable.

The goal of note-first knowledge management is to create a system that forwards valuable knowledge to the future, where it can be applied to real-world challenges. By focusing on the design of individual notes, we can ensure that they are easily reviewed, utilized, and deleted when necessary. This external, integrated digital repository acts as a second brain, storing and retrieving knowledge as needed.

Before concluding, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace deliberate time wasting: Take the time to relax and enjoy life without guilt. By intentionally wasting time, you can recharge and refocus, ultimately leading to greater productivity and happiness.
  • 2. Adopt a note-first approach to knowledge management: Instead of relying on tags or notebooks, focus on designing individual notes that are easily discoverable and valuable. This will make your note-taking system more efficient and effective.
  • 3. Balance compression and context in your notes: Strive to create condensed summaries that are easy to digest, while also including enough context to make them understandable and valuable. Finding the right balance will enhance the discoverability and usefulness of your notes.

In conclusion, wasting time can actually be a productive and fulfilling endeavor if done with intention. Similarly, organizing and structuring our knowledge in a note-first approach can enhance its discoverability and value. By incorporating these principles into our lives and work, we can make the most of our time and energy, ultimately leading to greater success and satisfaction.


  1. "Waste a Few Hours, so You Don't Waste Years - Darius Foroux", https://dariusforoux.com/waste-years/ (Glasp)
  2. "Progressive Summarization: A Practical Technique for Designing Discoverable Notes - Forte Labs", https://fortelabs.com/blog/progressive-summarization-a-practical-technique-for-designing-discoverable-notes/ (Glasp)

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