While there is no ideal method of reviewing your work, I find that I like to experiment with different processes. In the past, I talked about using Google Forms to maintain a commonplace book. Another option for doing this is to use a combination of Kindle (whether for a particular piece of hardware or the web version), Bookcision, and Day One to create a Commonplace Book that, due to Day One’s ability to recall when you uploaded notes, regularly appears for review.
With Evernote slowly sliding into obsolescence, I began looking for an alternative that could handle note-taking. I had already been using Day One for journaling, and reasoned that it could actually work as a primary notebook solution that did not require an astronomically-priced subscription service (at the time of this writing, Evernote costs $69.99 per year. I purchased Day One before it became a subscription service, so I do not need to pay for multiple notebooks (although I prefer to use tagging to separate my notes). I question whether I would recommend this method to those who have to pay the subscription price, but I suppose that’s a personal choice.
For me, one of the most significant challenges to assimilating knowledge from books is remembering to use that data regularly. Repeatedly reviewing material has a definite value when it comes to gaining knowledge. The benefits of repeated review are part of the reason why I considered this process concerning learning from books.
The process works under the following conditions:
- books are read on Kindle;
- Bookcision is used to obtain my notes and highlights;
- My notes and highlights are copied into Day One;
- Notes and highlights are categorized based on the four primary categories I use for all data, along with relevant sub-categories; and,
- I use the “On this Day” function in Day One to review past journal entries, including books.
My Kindle notebook
When reading in the Kindle ecosystem (i.e., on the web, in an app, or on an actual Kindle device), all notes and highlights are stored in the Kindle Notebook. When I finish a book, I go to the Kindle Notebook page and use Bookcision (instructions for installing the Bookcision bookmarklet can be found here ) to download truncated versions of all notes and highlights from the book, which I then copy and paste into Day One.
Note: This is not a perfect system. Amazon only allows truncated downloads from the Kindle Notebook page, but I do not need an exact copy of everything I highlight. What I need is a reference to my ideas so that I can go back and review things. The ideas are cues or starting points.
Once the material is copied into Day One, I categorize with tags as follows:
- Author Name
- Book Title
- Categorical Tag, i.e.,
- Sub-Category (this is more specific to the book’s topic, and could really fit within any category used by, say, the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress Catalogue)
An example of a Day One Book Entry
Additionally, if someone wanted to keep track of all things read, say, in a particular year or month, they could add chronological tags.
Each day, as part of my writing routine, I review past notes using Day One’s On this Day feature. As works I have read in the past are dated, they eventually come up once per year, so that I have an opportunity to review things I learned in the past, and the knowledge is less likely to degrade completely.