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Effortless Note Taking

Master a system of connected notes and tools that generate research ideas on auto-pilot. Stay organized in big projects and access everything you ever read in seconds.

Discounts for students available upon request.

What you’ll get out of this course

The most important part of research is creativity, understanding and memory, the subject-matter comes second.

Not learning these skills is like driving a car, but never learning traffic rules or studying a map. You might get into trouble or just take much longer than necessary. That is why participants of this course say they can do in 4 months what takes others 2 years.

► Become more creative by using connected notes.
► Generate new ideas for your research with tag graphs.
► Step-by-step system from academic notes to publication.
► Learn faster through “Linked Concepts”.
► Master Obsidian, to build a “second brain” for your research.
► Learn to use and connect Zotero from Mushtaq Bilal, PhD.
► Get more citations on your papers with Prof. Lennart Nacke.

Vidya Muthulakshmi M Doctoral Researcher

IIT-Madras India

I instantly related to the workflow Ilya Shabanov has adopted. The workshop is an end to all my search and extensive researching on notetaking for academia.

The philosophy of Ilya was too good. He made it a point to keep nailing the fact that he just introduces the tools but we are to experiment and make it personal. That is absolutely true.

The seven rules of notetaking he details is something that made me feel – “It all makes sense now” after almost 3 years of trying to understand note-taking through Obsidian. I am thankful for the two wonderful courses with crystal clear explanations helping everyone become an effortless academic. Thank you once again, Ilya.

Step-by-Step guidance and Templates

This course is designed to take you from beginner to advanced at a decent pace. You don’t need any familiarity with the tools.

► ~8 hours of curated, annotated recording with clear instructions
► ~20.000 words of in-depth notes on topics and tools.
► Based on webinar with 200 academics and their challenges
► Zero-to-Hero interactive tutorial to learn necessary software
► Receive a “starter kit”, to learn by example and go deeper
► Access to a private discord chat, to ask me anything afterwards
► Download the Full Table of Contents.

The starter kit is another gem of this course: It is an Obsidian template you can start using right away. See the system we are learning in real-life examples.

Obsidian video on how to preview notes holding cmd or ctrl keys.


I would like to highly recommend The Effortless Note Taking and Literature Course to anyone who is new to Obsidian and wants to improve their note-taking and bibliographic research skills.

Meeting Ilya Shabanov was a real discovery for me. His didactic and communicative skills and his availability to answer any question are extraordinary. Soon I will start his course on ChatGPT and I’m pretty sure that it will not be my last course with Ilya. I think it is worth investing in this type of training as it reduces the time of self-learning exponentially.

Dr. Mushtaq Bilal Teaches You Zotero

Dr Mushtaq Bilal is one of the foremost experts on using AI in academia and the use of Zotero. His workshops and tweets reach millions. We met for an hour to discuss a few topics and show you:

► How to use Zotero properly
► How to write with the help of Zotero
► Start writing with the Zero Drafting Strategy
► How AI can improve your writing in the future

Mushtaq Bilal, PhD

AI influencer, Post Doctoral Researcher

Syddansk Universitet


The Effortless Academic’s Manual by Ilya Shabanov is one of the most comprehensive workflows for academic writing.

I can say this because I took one of Ilya’s workshops.

Prof Lennart Nacke Teaches You To Get More Citations

Professor Lennart Nacke speaks about his strategy that got his papers 28.000 citations. In this hour long interview you will learn:

► How to pick a journal
► How to increase chances of acceptance in high impact journals.
► Writing strategies for students.
► How to increase your employability as an academic.
► How the academic systems works from within.

Siouxsie Wiles, PhD

Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine and Pathology

University of Auckland

New Zealand

Doing Ilya’s note-taking course and learning about Obsidian have been absolute game-changers for me. Ilya is an excellent teacher and his courses are really well-paced. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get more organised!

Find Everything You Ever Read

If you have been taking notes loosely as Word Documents, Paper, PDF Annotations or Emails you have probably experienced the frustration of just trying to find your notes.In this course we will learn to use Obsidian. A single software to gather notes, references, lab diaries and tasks. The result is bigger than the sum of its parts:

► Globally search through ALL notes in milliseconds.
► Link notes together and jump topics quickly.
► Embed your PDFs, to see them instantly along the notes.
► Think visually by creating mind maps from your notes.
► Connect tools like Zotero or even integrate ChatGPT.

While it might sound complicated, it really isn’t. After trying out a numerous tools I found Obsidian to be mature enough and simple enough. You won’t miss any features, but you won’t be overwhelmed either.

Obsidians main features relevant for academics

Suzette Flantua, PhD

Project Leader PPF-Alpine

University of Bergen


Ilya’s workshops are an absolute MUST-DO! If you are a researcher having to plow through endless publications and you need a system to keep track of all your notes and thoughts…then Ilya’s work and tips are a complete gamechanger!!

We have adapted it as a team and are absolutely in love with it. Super highly recommended, it’s worth every cent and second.

Create Ideas on Autopilot with a System

Reading & highlighting will get you only as far as talent goes. But talent isn’t enough, we need a recipe for new ideas. A new idea is often a new connection. “Let’s use this technique with this problem”. Creativity is connection.This system uses tagging to create connections and Obsidian’s graph feature to discover them. The results will surprise you.

Your brain is not a database – it’s a network, that’s why it works.The best analogy is that of doing math on paper. If nobody told you how to do math on paper, you would struggle to add big numbers together. e.g. 294772 + 1837462 = ? But on paper the problem gets reduced to small steps: 2+2, 7+6 … You use your mind in a much more productive way. The tagging and graphs system is a similar strategy but for IDEAS not math.

John D. Hopsley


Ilya Shabanov has designed and delivered an outstanding course that is accurately reflected in its title. This course is comprehensive in scope and crafted with careful attention to detail. The summary materials provided at the conclusion of the course exceeded my expectations. I would encourage aspiring researchers and writers to review the Effortless Academic website and take this course. One can only benefit from Ilya’s treasure trove of practical knowledge and thoughtful guidance.

The Power of Thinking Visually

Memory artists use spatial cues to memorise large amounts of information.We are going to apply this technique using Obsidian to never forget literature anymore. Curious how it looks? Play the video on the right.

The best thing about it? We can do all of that with the same software, Obsidian.Your notes, references, mind maps and much more – blend into an academic operating system.Yet it’s as minimalist as it gets and you will learn it effortlessly and quickly.

Thomas Goletz

Excellent content, clear and straight presentation. All content is offline and available for download – wonderful. This webinar is worth every cent and every second. I learnt a lot, many tips. Very helpful for many daily work. Thank you.

Meet your Instructor

Not your average scientist. I spent 12 years in industry, co-founded a brain training startup NeuroNation, ran a web design firm and only at 36 decided to do a PhD in biology. At this point I didn’t know much about biology – yet 6 months later I had a paper in peer review and a glowing recommendation from my supervisor:

My secret to learning very fast is not talent. It’s “Knowledge Management”, something I did routinely as a CEO.

You and I play chess with the same pieces, right? But who wins? The person with a better strategy – continuously & predictably. Research is not different. But has anyone ever taught you a strategy on how to “do science”? If you’re lucky your supervisor can show you a thing or two. More likely, they won’t even have the time.

I decided to change that and in December 2022 launched a Twitter account that is now one of the biggest accounts when it comes literature review and note taking strategies for academics. I consistently keep updating my own strategies as I pursue my career as an (effortless) academic at Victoria University in New Zealand.