Basically what I'm asking in the title, I don't know how to organize my previous thoughts with my present ones. Let me explain.

I have very bad memory. And I like to philosophize, but I don't study philosophy, so I guess I'm kind of an amateur. Anyway, every day or week or so, I stumble upon a new idea or thought I think is quite remarkable, and I usually write it down. The thing is, after a week has passed I don't develope this particular idea anymore, and don't connect it with the new ones I may be having, so it gets discarded like all the other ones, and I won't think about it again unless my thoughts bring me to it again, time in which I will think "wait, I had already come across this". And, another example, if I for some reason read what I wrote, I usually don't remember how I wrote it and feel like it's from a different person, and if the text doesn't explain the train of thoughts I had, and just states the general idea or the conclusion, I can't remember how I got there.

Apart from it, when I have a new weekly idea it tends to become the center of my thoughts, like I find this particular idea is connected to a lot of questions I may have, and like it is the root of everything else, until I get to a new idea that will take its place.

So, basically, what I'm asking for is, how can I, when I have a new idea, transmit it clearly to what I'm writing, so then when I read it I remember how I got there. And also, after it's written, an important part is obviously to re-read it, so do you know about some kind of habit or system for organizing how old ideas can be brought back and connect them to the present ones? And finally, I often find myself that I might not be able to sit in a table and write for as much as I need, but instead can only write short sentences (I don't know, if I'm in the train or something, for example) so how can you, by writing a little or by memory, later remember what you were thinking and how you got there?

I'm sorry if this might be a little out of topic, since I don't ask about a particular philosophy question, but rather how to make philosophy.

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    As you said, your future self doesn't remember the reasoning of your present self. Therefore you should document all your reasoning as if you are writing for a stranger. Clear documentation of your reasoning also allows you to see where an error in reasoning may have occurred when you review it at a future point in time from a new perspective. If you have just an idea, or conjecture, you should write down how you might develop it further, and make a note to actively return to the idea to test if the conjecture is reasonable or not. – Kenshin Aug 18 '18 at 10:48
  • Well, typically, all my ideas have something central expressed in aphorisms. So, I have a document where I store all my aphorisms. – rus9384 Aug 18 '18 at 11:19
  • I carry around a tiny notebook and pen that I can put in my shirt pocket for such ideas and then rewrite some of them later in Google docs. This helps keep me organized. I also have a phone and could write directly to Google docs from there, but I find the physical pen and paper easier to use. Then I hope for the best. – Frank Hubeny Aug 18 '18 at 14:53
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    It seems that Psychology & Neuroscience would be a better place for this question. – Conifold Aug 18 '18 at 20:39

To be honest, I'm having pretty much the same issue you have. I keep notes (many, many notes) that I write down while reading, while thinking about a certain topic, or even simply a question that popped into my head. From this experience I can try to suggest you some things that'd helped me organize my thoughts, and also ones I want to do myself that I'm sure will help me too.

  1. Most importantly, I found that reading about topics that interest me (and I mean read a lot about them) has helped me a lot with clearing up what I know about the topic, what I want to know, how everything relates to everything else in my thought process, and it generally simply helped me understand my thoughts clearer. I think this is the most important suggestion I may have for you.

  2. Try and organize you thoughts as soon as you can. Whether it's something that you can do immediately, or delay it for another hour or two, try to organize your ideas properly. I'll get into the organization thing in a bit, but the suggestion here is to not delay your thoughts too much, or else you'll simply forget what you were thinking about exactly, which is very important.

  3. And about the organization of your ideas, try to attach to your notes everything that you can that'll help you remember exactly what you were thinking about, whether it's via a quote that led you to thinking that idea, or the time and place you were thinking about it, maybe even describe your surroundings so that you can remember the experience you were having which is a big part of how your memory works.

  4. Try to describe your idea as clearly as you can, don't trust yourself to remember a reference you wrote quickly or some fragments or memory that'll help you later on. Do it in the ELI5 way (Explain Like I'm 5).

  5. Talk with someone else about your ideas, preferably as soon as you're thinking about them. That's another kind of experience you'll have of your ideas which is a great way to force your memory to work how you want it to.

  6. Try to build your idea in a way you'll understand in your head. For example I'm very fond of the argumentation structure of organizing an idea by logical steps, so I can understand it quite easily later on, and even find flaws within my original thinking process.

I hope these will help you for starters. This will definitely improve over time and will not be easy at first, but it's absolutely worth it. After a while you'll come to think of your own techniques that'll help you specifically, so don't worry if you think that I gave you less techniques than you'd like. And again, I honestly think that the first suggestion is the absolute best, it has definitely helped me the most.

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It's generally advisable to write down your ideas as if you were writing them for a stranger. For making connections between ideas, you could tag them with keywords and store them somewhere searchable. Finally, perhaps someone else would be willing to help you keep track.

One possibility that would potentially align well with all of these ideas is to start a blog and put your ideas there.

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  • You need to use a media that can be searched by a computer (simple text files). There are tools which can create binary search trees of seemingly unconnected thoughts allowing you to later categorise and index them. Another thing is you must not be lazy in note writing. Make sure your note explains your thought as if to a stranger. Finally. The chances are you haven't thought of anything new. When you've made your note.. get on Google and find out who most famously had the idea before you. If nothing else it will give you a whole lot of other things to think about. – Richard Aug 21 '18 at 22:25

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