My one weird trick to get more out of what books I read in print.

I do a fair bit of non-fiction reading and I tend to do most of it in print, via books I’ve borrowed from one or another of the public libraries in my area. One of the biggest complaints I’ve had doing this is the lack of being able to remember most of the stuff I read in any detail and certainly not in a way that I can reuse that stuff I do remember (unless I happen to go grab that book from the library again to check page numbers and proper citations from that material).

One day, a few months ago, I came across a pretty cool blog post that explained how the author read books, took notes and then made the notes he took pop back up in his to-do system 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 1 year, 2 years and 4 years after he finished the book. He took notes via a mind-map app and I have found that this is useful for me too. I like the visual overview of the topics of the books and the ability to extract an nicely done outline of the book from that mind map.

My Mind Map from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear

I’m currently in flux about how I’m doing tasks – I’ve been using Asana with a set of templates that I can create quickly that set up tasks for 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 1 year, 2 years and 4 years in the future (from when I create the task from the template – pretty slick). I then add a link to the Evernote note that holds the mind map image (as shown above) and the PDF of the outlined data so that I can review either one as my mood dictates.

As intimated above, I use a cheap app called SimpleMind on my phone that I then share the image and outline versions of the mind map to Evernote using my phone’s features. This may change as I’ve discovered that I can use the [[in 3 days]] syntax in Roam on the page that I use to store the image and outline of the book and it will pop up on those days for me. I’m in flux, right now I have both set up and they both work fine. The only thing that doesn’t work so well is the sharing of the mind map image with Roam – it’s seamless in Evernote, not so much in Roam…

Anyway, that’s my process for extracting *usable* information from books that I read in print (my process to get the information from books I read on my Kindle is outlined in the PKM tech stack series on this blog).

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