If you’ve somehow managed to find the time to sit down and read a book, you’re likely looking to make the most of that time spent. Making the decision to invest in research and learning is a great step in the right direction, but it is vital to set yourself up for success in implementing what you have learned. 

Perhaps sticky notes, highlighters and notes in the margin permanently damaging the pages of your favourite book makes you cringe. I’m with you. Even the thought of bending the corner of the page turns my stomach. There are many more effective (and less scarring) ways to keep notes.  

Some avid readers keep notebooks at the ready to jot down key passages they want to remember. For those that learn through reading/writing, this can reinforce the concepts you are absorbing. They’re also a great resource to refer to if you need a refresher on the subject matter and condenses the information to sift through down to the most relevant or pertinent details.  

The downside is that notebooks are bulky. They take up space, are only truly good for collecting data and notes in chronological order as you move through the book or article. Storing them for future reference may be a challenge and they can be cumbersome when taking your reading on the go. 

Months ago, a friend shared that she had her own unique way of keeping notes when reading. When she starts a new book, she slides a small stack of recipe cards into the pages and when she finds something noteworthy, she jots it down on the card. She’ll collect profound ideas or quotes she would like to use in the future and then stores them in a series of highly organized containers. It’s perfect for giving speeches or participating in webinars and panels. Having a pool of inspiration and knowledge to dip into whenever I need it could be a real lifesaver.  

I will admit that this path for note-taking isn’t for everyone. I can appreciate that. To some, this is an overly manicured collection of notes. To me, it’s helped me make the most of my time. No matter how great your memory is you’re simply not going to remember every minute detail of the books you read. Extracting pieces that inspire me or messages that resonate with me and capturing that information is maximizing my time and efforts. I no longer have to sort through books I’ve already read looking for key pieces of information. I have them sorted into categories based on what works for me, and I have everything I need at my fingertips.  

While this style of information storage may not work for you, I encourage you to take some time to figure out what does work. Making the effort to retain the information you absorb means that the time you spend reading is an investment in yourself and the work you do. You deserve to work on yourself, so let’s make sure we’re making the most of the time we’ve got.  

If you’re interested in the recipe card method here are some great inexpensive storage ideas: