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One of the things that I love to do and that I fundamentally believe is important for your own development is Reading. The thing that I’ve also noticed is that I’m not reading as efficiently as I could, so last month I set out to do some research on how to read more efficiently and actually do something with the information I have gotten from reading something.

(And actually, thinking about it, I’ve worked on general information retention this does NOT just apply to books but also videos I’ve watched etc. but for this particular part I’m focusing on the books side of “reading”).

What’s the struggle right now?

Right now I feel like I could be doing so much better when it comes to choosing what I read, tracking what I learnt from it, and then applying it to my life in one way or another. I also feel like I should open up in the types of things I am reading so that my development isn’t only focused on ONE area of my life.

I have the same kind of feeling of unrest about SO MANY different things, because I am really disorganised with everything that is not “actual work”. I’ve tried using Asana to sort my more personal stuff as well, but I just associate it with work and don’t enjoy the experience for organising personal stuff and writing down thoughts etc.

 In the past I used Evernote but I haven’t been quite loving it for a while. It just seems super inflexible and I don’t LOVE using it every day.

Systems Over Tools

I do know from years of work that the reason why I feel that I am disorganised is NOT however down to the tool that I’m using, but down to the WAY I’m using it – or not. I don’t have a system to choose books, to decide what I’m reading and when. To take notes on what I did read and to decide how this applies to my life.

I watched a few videos and I came across Rowena Tsai talking about setting systems vs. setting goals and I thought that that was just the productivity equivalent of systems over tools – and I realised that my entire life has changed SO MANY times in the last 2 years that I had to throw all systems I used to have out the window, and they never got replaced with useful new ones.

So I decided to focus on building systems for everything that I feel is not working at the moment – just as I do for work.

I decided to give Notion a shot for this, because I want to keep EVERYTHING in ONE app and as I said above, Evernote was not up to the job for me.

Notion is WAY more flexible due to the different types of content that can be added, the ways it can be organised and it forces you to build a system first before you can assemble anything in a useful format. If you haven’t seen Notion yet, check them out here. For some of you Evernote will still be the simpler option and the notebook idea may work just fine for you.

So, what needs to be organised now?

I got very clear on the fact that I needed a better organisational structure for

1. Storing a list of books I may want to read in future (I see SO MANY recommendations and I just forget where I put them, so this is a big one)

2. Deciding what to read and making sure that I vary. I watched one of Ali Abdaals videos and he mentioned that he started to make a point to read books in ALL the areas of his life that he wanted to get better at and that really resonated with me, however I haven’t even gone as far as trying to refocus on what’s important to me. Lol. So I will come back to the “pick what you read”.

3. I am also in a habit of finishing books, because I guess it’s what I was told to do back in the day, but I’ve got a lot of books I read that I regret reading and honestly it’s just stupid, so I’ve made a commitment to stop reading a book if after the first chapter I’m not curious to learn more.

4. I then need a place to take notes while I read and save quotes etc. and ideally I’d also like a better way to save the quotes that doesn’t involve having to type them, but I will come back to the second part. For now I want a database in notion of what I’ve read and key points from it. Maybe then I’ll even get round to sharing my top takeaways over here as well, because I have the notes. Won’t promise anything though.

What are the action steps?

I need to head over into Notion and clear out the “Books” section that came as part of a template I got.

I then need to head into Scribd and make a list of books that I’ve saved in there and transfer them onto my Notion bookshelf.

[BTW I do prefer physical books, but they don’t vibe with the Digital Nomad Lifestyle, so I joined scribd after a friend invited me and if you join with my link here, then you will get 60 days access for free (and I’ll get 30 as a thank you). While they don’t have ALL the books (or sometimes they only have the audiobook) I still get massive value from it.]

Then I should do the same in Goodreads, Amazon Wishlist, Evernote and any other random place I may have stored books.

Then I’d like to adjust the notion template for books notes so that I always have the same structure in the notes.

And then it’s down to setting an amount that I want to read every day/pick a time to read every day.

I will get this done today and then I can move on to the next thing tomorrow.

Edit: I did write a follow up update to hold myself accountable, which you can find here.

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