What is Progressive Summarization
Progressive Summarization is a note-taking technique that focuses on extracting, summarizing and distilling information to the core ideas.
You can achieve this by re-reading the text and the most important pieces several times, each time narrowing down to only the paragraphs or sentences that contain the key messages. For each note, you have several layers:
- Layer 1: Capture Notes
- You start by highlighting or extracting the paragraphs that resonate with you the most.
- Layer 2: Bolded passages
- Next you read only the highlights, and you bold the specific sentences or paragraphs that contain the key message.
- Layer 3: Highlighted sentences
- Thirdly you read only the bolded paragraphs and sentences and highlight the most important elements
- Layer 4: Executive Summary
- You finish by writing in your own words a high level summary.
Moving from one layer to another is done at different interval of times and not all the steps at once. For example, level 2 can be done in the same day or the next one from the time of reading the content. Level 3 pass can be done after one week and level 4, several days later.
Tiago Forte is the the creator of this technique, and you can find more resources on his blog and youtube channel.
What are the key benefits
When revisiting a processed note, it is way faster and easier to recall the content of the note compared with re-reading the original content. Since the information is summarized to the key ideas, if more details are needed, you just need to follow the sequence in reverse, from the executive summary to the captured highlights.
What are critiques of this method
- To better remember the content and generate new ideas, it is better to write the note in your own words, instead of copying and highlighting the author's words.