In the old days, I read books on paper – you know, the kind that you would keep on a book shelf.
Now, I read books on my Kindle App on my iPad.
When I read the physical books, I would underline passages with a pen (I never much liked highlighters). And I would write in the margins. With words underlined, and stars and explanation points and question marks. (My best examples, alas, are put away in storage. I’ve been reading in Kindle for quite a few years now).
This was my way of taking notes on the books I read. And there is a long-verified finding that taking notes will help you remember.
I could, and would, literally remember passages in books by remembering my markings in the margins.
It made reading an active activity, not a passive one. I would agree with, and argue with, the author. He or she didn’t know it; but I did.
Now, in my current life, I take all of my Kindle highlighted passages, and edit them down into my synopsis handouts for the First Friday Book Synopsis and the Urban Engagement Book Club (and plenty of client presentations). My handouts are 10-12 pages long, usually. They are comprehensive.
But for my presentations, I write in the margins; a lot. I write instructions to myself; points to emphasize. It is, again, a very active process.
I have a strong recommendation for you in 2021. Write things down. On some kind of physical paper.
There are plenty of ways to do this:
Keep a journal
Keep a diary
Keep a list of books you read
Keep a list of presentations you heard
Write short notes in your lists, beside each item. Like:
“I learned to/was reminded to…write personal thank you notes.”
Once a month, or so, glance thorough your list, noting your few but important action items.
Keep a list of new things you learned.
Keep a list of things you already knew, but were reminded of, and should be doing.
WRITE SOMETHING DOWN; ON PAPER; PHYSICALLY; IN A PLACE WHERE YOU KNOW YOU CAN FIND IT; AND RETRIEVE IT; AND REMEMBER IT.
This, by the way, is one of the insights from David Allen in his classic book on time management, Getting Things Done. In other words, writing things down, on paper, is a way to get more done.
So, here’s a simple New Year’s Resolution for 2021; one that is easy to do, and follow. One that might make a bigger difference than you realize.
WRITE STUFF DOWN!
Happy New Year!