Saturday, June 17, 2023

How Do You Keep Track of What You Read?


Scott D. Parker

On New Year’s Day 2023, I decided to try something new.

I have long kept scattered notes about the things I consume. This includes books, movies, TV shows, music, and various other things. But these lists and such remain, well, scattered.

Over the past couple of years, the writer Ryan Holiday landed on my radar. He is the bookstore owner who writes about the Stoics and their philosophy and how it is still relevant in the 21st Century. In my reading about how Holiday researches and studies his subjects, I learned he keeps an extensive notecard system. His research assistant, Billy Oppenheimer, also keeps an extensive set of notecards. He wrote about his process here.

Being inspired by the two of them, I wondered what it would be like to start and maintain a notecard system of the things I read and watch.

And it’s been a blast.

As you can see from the picture, each card gets a title on top. The lower right corner is the date(s) where I read or watched the thing. Then, in the space of a 4x6 notecard, I write my thoughts. There’s a nice discipline about keeping your handwritten thoughts to a few lines that fit on a notecard. It’s wonderfully tangible to have the notecard you can hold and review.

You’ll also note that I have weekly and monthly assessments. Those I’ve found quite valuable at seeing personal trends, the wins, and the things I need to work on.

Since I’ve decided to read a comic book a day for Summer 2023, I’m also writing at least one notecard a day. Again, the discipline of doing this is proving very rewarding.

Oh, and yeah, I’m just using a binder clip right now. I graduated from the smallest to the middle and now a giant clip. And I just opened my second package of notecards this week. Maybe as a present to myself, when I get a couple hundred notecards, I’ll buy a box. A long-term goal.

How do you keep track of the books you read and the stuff you watch?

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