Kindle centered reading and learning workflow

An excellent reading and learning centered arond Kindle

  1. read a book
  2. highlight sections, sentences as you go
  3. extract highlights to your notetaking app of choice
  4. review highlights, add any additional thoughts and comments
  5. use those in your writing and learning

I picked it up from The Knowledge Project podcast- Shane Parish – Interview with Sanjay Bakshi

34 days

I was catching up on some of my favourite podcasts and that included Mikes on Mics episode 83 where the guys are talking about the intersection of self-improvement and productivity.  

One of the things that caught my attention was the idea of testing things over 34 days. Seems like an odd number but as Mikes explain, it makes sense. 

Trying different ways to stay productive, organised is part of a process of finding what works. However what does not make sense is jumping from place to place without a proper experimentation and time to adjust.  

Weekly time scale isn’t effective for that it’s just too short to see what’s good and bad. On the other end making a commitment to use a method or workflow for 34 days makes it inconvenient enough to see through different scenarios. Getting committed to a process for this number of days gives you much more time and opportunities to test it properly.

You can listen to the details at The Line Between Self-Improvement and Productivity 

My computer rules

Over the last few weeks I’ve been quite busy with evaluating my computer rules. I decided it was about time to define the ways I store information that’s valuable to me and whom do I trust on the web. Sounds serious and I suppose it is after all it’s my data and should take a good care of it so that it’s not lost or corrupted.
What really sparked my interest in this area is the most recent scandal with privacy issues and spying by some governments and in general worry that someone else has control over my information.

It’s very contentious topic and possibly not easy to solve, perhaps even impossible to solve.

Ben Brooks put things into nice perspective for me in a post from couple weeks ago.

As consequence of that I put together a list of couple basic rules that I’ve been implementing to make sure I’m controlling my information as much as possible. This means that certain tasks have become a bit more cumbersome but I’m pretty sure I will be able to navigate around them and find some good solutions. Over time I will try to share them here too.

Use native formats

Keep critical data in formats that been here very long like: txt, html, pdf, jpg. This will ensure that no matter what I can still access my information. These formats are not impacted by applications that gone stale, databases that got corrupted etc. All I need is a program that can read these format.

Export to native format

If using proprietary applications make sure there is easy and clean export into native formats. This not only ensure that I have a good backup of data but I can also move it somewhere else. New programs are coming up everyday so getting stuck isn’t an option anymore.

Proprietary files

If there is a need to use proprietary files make sure it’s for non-critical information and on temporary basis. Certain projects will require some very specific tools that keep data in custom type files. That’s inevitable but the key is that once the project is finished make sure data can be exported into native format.

One exception I’m willing to make is passwords, I need a good password manager and that need to be stored in an encrypted container.

Encrypted backups

Making backup is a first step in ensuring data is safe, the second one is to make sure it’s safe. They contain as much precious and private information as our laptops so making sure they are encrypted and well secured. Perhaps consider having two or three copies stored with family or friends you can trust. Yes, sacrifice convenience for that purpose.

Access to backup

My rule is that I don’t let other application to store my backups in their custom file formats. If I ever lose access the that application (lose registration code etc) I’m stuck but if backup is in the native format I can still access my data. Linux combined with TrueCrypt are easy way to get access to encrypted backups.

Keep an clean image.

Drives do die, systems can’t boot. Having a clean image of hard disk will let easily revert to previous or at least basic configuration and setup. It’s much better to reinstate the image than fully reinstall operating system.
Best to do it as soon as you’ve put a fresh install on your machine as down the road things can get a bit more messy.

Know your software

Make a list of all you primary tools so you know what needs to be installed as priority.

Trusty Providers

Find providers that you can trust whether it’s Google, Apple, Dropbox or your hosting company. Unless you are willing to spend time and energy on building your own stuff you need to trust some one and be happy with it.

Evernote Routines

I’m in the midst of reviewing my workflow and updating applications that I rely the most. I will write about that soon. 

I wanted to share a good example of making the most out of Evernote. Bernie Goldbach an American in Ireland shares his routines and some tips on how to leverage Evernote application for that purpose. 

The Essential Evernote Routines 

 

 

Value vs Volume

Cal Newport over at study hacks shared some of his impresions from watching a documentary about Woddy Allen his life and habits. What really got my attention there was section about value in productivity.

You can easily get an impression that productivity is about improving the volume of tasks that are completed. To a an extent that’s correct, there maybe be a scope for introducting automation, removing unnecessary or old obligations. But there is more beyod that.
The more is in the value of the tasks that we complete. Value is in focusing in high return activities if you are writing a book that should be your priority, if you’re training to a marathon other things should be put to the side.

There are countless of different things you could do at any given moment but consider this in 44 years Woody Allen created 23 films surely hours on Twitter didn’t help with that.

Woody Allen and the Art of Value Productivity

Tools and systems

Finding right productivity setup can be quite daunting and time consuming task. There are hundreds of places you can check for inspiration solution to you productivity problems.

But looking at other people setups is a shortsighted strategy and in most cases will not give you the solution you seek.

A better way to approach it is to figure out what you have already in place. Check the methodologies, tools, see what works and what doesn’t.

While reviewing my Pocket queue I’ve came across this excellent overview of tools, methods and people that contribute to better productivity and organisation.

Be Organized and Productive

It’s well worth a read especially you’re on a Mac or consider moving to this platform.

Work Mantras

Mantra has religious connotations and it means as word or phrase which aims at creating transformation.

Through the process of repeating they become embedded into you psyche becoming a behavior. 

I’m always on the lookout go for ideas and inspirations for creating a good working practices, personal workflows and getting things done. I find a lot of these on blogs by Nicholas BateLuis Suarez, Mike Vardy and Michael Schechter.

Recently I came across this excellent summary of work martras by Oscar Berg. It’s simple list of 7 key points which includes things like:

  1. Always strive for simplicity
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Work smarter, not harder

The list is accompanied by some graphics which provide great visual representation of these mantras.

It’s great opportunity to ponder on your own work rules

My 7 work mantras by Oscar Berg.

Doing Research with Evernote

Evernote is the primary tool which I use to keep my research materials, scraps of ideas and other notes. This post will discuss a three step process of researching any topic and how Evernote can help it make it more effective.

TOOLS I USE

Evernote Corporation created a number of products/applications which are key elements of my research process and come handy at different stages. It’s a very neat power pack allowing you to gather and process different types of media and information.

Evernote desktop client

WebClipper – browser extension

Clearly – browser extension

Skitch – desktop client

THE PROCESS

The process I follow is very simple but having it clarified made it much easier for focus on the specific stages rather than jump back and forth.

1) Find a topic

2) Collect

3) Process

4) Organise

Find a research topic

Ideas come and go. They are spurred by events, things we see, read etc. Yet what often happens, when we seek something todo all of a sudden there are no ideas available. Whenever an idea strikes, I make the point of capturing it and sending it to Evernote. If for example, I have an idea for a new blog post I put “PostIdea” in the title, if it’s a different type I type “IdeaPad”. Then I rely on saved search to bring up either in a single list of notes which I can review. Once a topic is selected I move to next phase.

Collect the information

Depending on a topic there maybe a multitude of sources of information relevant to what I’m researching. If it’s on the web I use a combination of Google and Duckduckgo to search through it. Anything that looks interesting whether it’s a quote, a whole article, image or PDF document gets saved into Evernote through use of WebClipper. Sometimes I’m not sure if I whole article is worth capturing and in such case I would bookmark it into Pinboard and then during processing decide if it’s worth keeping.

If I have other sources of information like email exchanges I can forward them straight into Evernote using my special email address. To see your individual address check your accounts settings.

For documents and files I rely on very neat feature called Folder Pickup. All I need to do is save files into the predefined location, wait couple seconds and check Evernote client. You can check the details of the folder location and the import settings under Tools>Import within desktop client.

Images are either taken straight from the web or through screenshots of pages that I specifically need. All it takes is to press “Win+PrtScr” and select the area to capture. Skitch comes handy for this too but I use it more for processing information.

Process

Once I’m happy with the volume of the information that I have it’s time to look through it in more detail and what’s worth. This allows me to understand what I have, figure out key concepts, note most important points and potentially discover new areas to look at.

When it comes to reading and extracting useful points the most effective tool for that is Clearly. Not only it removes all the unnecessary webpage elements leaving only the main content. It also overlays the page with plain background making the article easier to read. Clearly allows for highlight text you find interesting and send the whole article and highlight into your Evernote account.

Copy and paste is a handy way to gather the material but to better understand the concepts and retain information for longer it’s good to type your own reading notes. If I’m doing that I have one a note in a separate window and the switch between the material I’m reading and the note’s window. Once I’m done I makes sure I have the link to original content saved in the link field of the note. This way I can always refer to it when necessary or at least know where it was published.

What I would sometimes do is simply to grab a bunch of quotes from a single article and let Evernote create a series of notes which I then merge into one. It’s neat approach if you want to grab a large number of items without worrying about manual processing of them.

If I’ve captured any images or graphics that I want to analyse and review I use Skitch. This app has only a handful of features but they are very well designed and thought out. I can Annotate an image with highlights, text and arrows it’s very easy and effective. Since Skitch and Evernote desktop client are well integrated all it take is a single click of a mouse to move between the two. See a sample below.

Organise

Last but not least is organising stage of notes. Although Evernote has excellent search capabilities I personally still prefer to organise information in some form. Evernote allows for assigning tags to notes or creating specific notebooks which are note containers. From what I’ve seen the decision on the approach is very personal matter as some prefer the flexibility of tags, were others like the silo structure of a notebook. I happen to rely on both and use notebooks to store all the notes related to a particular project and then assign tags as way of indicating their status or specific theme they belong to. Once the project is closed, depending on the number of notes that I’ve created I would simply merge them on to one. Alternatively as I prefer to keep the folder structure light I would assign a specific tag to all notes related to particular project and then move them into a project archive folder.

This is how I manage research using various tools provided by Evernote. Do you have a process for managing your research? Do you have any tips for making it better? Please share in the comments section.

Shawn Blanc’s plain text workflow

A while ago I relied on plain text to serve me as the database of everything. Simple reference notes, blog post ideas, project notes, research and reading notes etc. I was a good setup but it was lacking for me a little in terms of functionality. In the end I’ve settled on Evernote as the center of my reference information because it allows me to store any type and format of information. 

Now if your choice is plain text then I definitely recommend reading Shawn Blanc’s overview of his setup and the corresponding workflow. The post goes into a great depth explaining the role of Simplenote, NVAlt, use of individual files and the sync issues that may occur. Shawn also looks at the various alternatives to Simplenote based workflow and putting reliance on Dropbox to handle all the files.   

It’s definitely very good read with quite a few possible takeaways for yourself.

A Foray Into Simplenote Alternatives

GTD workflow with Remember the Milk

The beauty of Getting Things Done methodology is that it can be used with any tool whether it’s a paper notebook or digital application sitting on your laptop or mobile phone.

In the center of GTD sits a workflow model which helps you deal with incoming information, requests, ideas and task. This model is based on the following five stages:

  1. capture
  2. process
  3. organise
  4. review
  5. do

It’s a very simple process, yet very powerful as it allows you to make decisions about the things that enter your space and whether you are willing to do them and if so when. As I rely on this model on daily basis I thought I would share how my current task manager of choice Remember the Milk helps me apply it on daily basis.

Capture

Capturing ideas, thoughts, tasks, requests etc is the basic element of well functioning GTD implementation. All the things that have your attention should be routed into an Inbox for later review and assessment. David Allen says:”Your mind is for having ideas not for holding them”. Remember the Milk offers a multiple ways of capturing your information

  • use the input panel on the web
  • use bookmarklet to quickly capture ideas in your browser
  • on the go use smartphone app and the new task widget (Android only)
  • send emails to RTM using subject line to define the task
  • send tasks via Twitter using @rtm account.

These options allow me to capture information very quickly and efficiently regardless of where I’m or do and have it in a single place waiting for me to process it.

Processing

Processing is the stage where you need to decide whether the things you’ve captured are still worth pursuing, should you delete them or put it of for later. This is important stage as not everything you captured will be completed. Having ideas does not mean we need to pursue them all. This state allows to weed out things that we don’t want to spend our time on. Processing focuses on determining whether I want to accomplish the task or idea that I’ve captured. If the answer is “NO” I delete the task or move it to someday maybe list for later consideration. If the answer is “YES” it means the task enters my system permanently and at this moment I apply things like tags, due dates, time estimate, list name etc. These elements will define the context of the task like @home, @computer or the location in the static lists that I use. Adding all these elements means that the organising stage is very easy and almost automated.

Organise

There is so much flexibility there that I could spend months discussing different ways you can organise the tasks using Remember the Milk. Best approach is to keep this simple and relevant and build up from there. For me organising tasks very easy and I heavily rely on smart list which effectively act as a self organising mechanism. Let me explain. I use a static list to manage my areas of focus and at this moment use two list. This is the only time I have to manually assign tasks to a specific list.

For my context, project and waiting for lists I rely on smart list. These list are dynamically generated list that display tasks based on the selected criteria. So if at the processing stage I add tag @computer then my context list “@Computer” will display that task too. Simple no dragging and dropping no moving around etc. Relying on smart list reduces a lot of friction and steps necessary to make sure that my list are up to date and include all items. I also have a “no tag” list which shows me items which don’t have a tag, this is little security net so I can pick up on lost items.

Review

Once you’re tasks are nicely organised it is time to review the relevant list and pick few things that you really want to put your attention on. I have a special list called MIT (thanks Jason Womack) which I update on almost daily basis. The list will include my critical tasks for a given day or a week. The process of adding items is simple, I scan my list and assign selected task a priority level 1 which mean any item of this type will be added to the MIT list. If all planned items are done I look through my context and pick something from the relevant one.

Do

For the doing phase make sure you have easy access to your Remember the Milk account and pick the first task you planned for today. To make sure I get to seem them I have RTM pinned in my browser and a widget set on my phone to display these. Then all it’s left is to do the work.

RTM is so powerful that you can create a very complex list structures and workflows which will involve a lot of steps. My preference it to keep things simple and as close to GTD model as possible while still retaining some of my personal preferences. From experience I can tell that the more elaborate structure/system the less likely you will be able to sustain it. Keep it as simple as you can it will pay off.

Debunked productivity myths

Internet, books, magazines are full of productivity advice. Very often these media announce THE best productivity methodology, tip or hack. Very often these suggestions contradicts one versus the other making event more difficult to figure out what to do and who to follow and listen to.
Lifehacker debunks seven popular productivity myths and explains why they don’t work.

 

Seven Productivity Myths Debunked

Each or us is different and we respond in different ways to tips, suggestions and methods that we come across. The best productivity system is one that helps you achieve what you are decided to do regardless of its origin, complexity and coherence. Building successful workflow takes time necessary to test things and see what really works for you.

 

 

Evernote for almost everything and workflow update

Note: This is a very long post outlining in detail decision to move to Evernote as primary note taking tool of choice. Plain text still has it’s place as it’s best writing environment that I encoded. Hope it will be useful in your own journey of perfecting workflow.
I went through a little-big internal debate about keeping my notes, capture, reference material etc. I looked at plain text and rich text solutions for storing my data and more specifically whether to continue using ResophNotes or move back to Evernote as primary tool.

The key take away from this post is that the more you use a tool the more you rely on it the more beneficial it is to you. At the same time it becomes more difficult to switch. Read on if you want to know more details and how I approached different things.

Bit of a background

Over the course of last three months I’ve embarked on a plain text journey. It actually started few months ago when I began reading bettermess.com and all the stuff Michael had to say. Many of his posts where about plain text and it’s power. The neat and powerful system that he created was really appealing. At the same time came across other people who heavily relied on plain text David Sparks, Merlin Mann, Shawn Blanc, Patrick Rhone to name just few.

So three months ago I started to look for tools which would help me construct plain text based setup. To my surprise there aren’t that many options available and the end I’ve settled with ResophNotes and WriteMonkey. Why those two? ResophNotes allows me to create, search and browse through all my text files providing fast and convenient way of managing them. WriteMonkey is excellent and powerful plain text editor which I use to write all my stuff. It provides better writing environment than ResophNotes plus it has a lot writing related features that make it super useful. Writing on my Android phone was handled by Epistle app and Dropbox was the gel that bound everything together.

Then two things have happened. I needed to take a screen shot of something I saw on the web, I came across couple interesting tweets that I wanted to save and I was a little bit stuck. The easiest and the most effective way of capturing those things was into Evernote. Few moments after that I realised that I already have a ton of information in Evernote.

What I realised was that I was missing a lot of the information that I’ve accumulated before and that I was not using. It was not just the web clips and other snippets of information that I pick up but also my older notes, book and race notes etc. All this was sitting in Evernote and remained unused. Sure I could always search for it but it would require some additional conscious effort to search two place as opposed to one.

Feature comparison

I took some time to look at Evernote and ResophNote and list all of the available features and functions that each app offered. From the start it was clear that Evernote would win as it’s just more powerful tool. Aside from the sheer number, some features are clearly more valuable that other. Here is the list that I came up with.

Benefits of using Evernote:

  • ubiquitous capture available on each platforms (Windows, Web, Android)
  • ease of getting the data into the application from various sources
  • can be a single place for storing almost all of you data – notes, web clippings, pdfs etc.
  • global hotkeys for capture and search of notes
  • powerful search in notes and uploaded documents like PDF or images (OCR)
  • rich text editing and formating
  • easily captures the source of the information from the websites
  • note links and sharing of notes.
  • easy checklist and table creation
  • Skitch integration

Benefits of using ResophNotes and plain text:

  • no installation required,
  • data synced via Dropbox or can simply be moved to a USB drive
  • fast and easy to create and search notes
  • Markdown support
  • data stored in plain text
  • global hotkeys for note creation and application
  • excellent for focused writing and note creation
  • 99% chances that in post apocalyptic world event the simplest and basic computer will read plain text.

Data worries

When I was reading about benefits of plain text one of the many arguments was that it’s future proof meaning there will be always tools to read and display plain text files. If you use other applications you need to rely on a proprietary file format which makes you depended on the company that created it. In the long run, will you be able to access and review your notes?

I’ve spend some time thinking about this and came to conclusion that being locked into Evernote format is not really a concern for me provided I’m able to do couple things to liberate my data and take it away in a fairly basic format.

As Evernote want us to store more data, they brand themselves as a 100 year company, highlighting the fact that they are there for the long run and that they don’t think about the next quarter. This is refreshing and reassuring approach considering the company is just few years old. Yet they don’t stop just there, you can always export you data and documents and take them away.

Data Export

Data nerds will object but being able to export data from Evernote to HTML would be sufficient enough for most people. Most people would not event think of exporting data or making sure you can access it ten years from now. HTML export is definitely enough for me. At this moment I can see two scenarios where I would move somewhere else – a new better app is build or Evernote goes bust and no longer provides it’s services. Evernote is immensely popular solution with millions of users so should anyone design a better application and want to compete with them will create an import tool to move your notes. If the company would go bankrupt all you lose is the cloud backup the rest stays where it was (i.e. your laptop) and you can decide what to do next. I’m also pretty sure some hackers would come up with clever ways of extracting the data and putting it into a different format.

Back to exporting your notes. I’ve played around with the different options available which includes Evenote’s own xml file or creation of single or multiple HTML files with attachments stored separately. From what I’ve learned individual HTML export it the most effective. Then, should I really need to move elsewhere I can export all my notes and rely on system search to find relevant information. Windows Search or Finder are more than capable of indexing the information in side those files. Because of the way I name my notes and structure them in Evernote I can easily identify those that are particularly important like various reference notes or list and then I can put some effort in creating scripts or batch files which will convert notes into plain text files. Since attachments like pdfs or images get exported too I can resort to picture manager like Picasa and easily scan and this information.

Storing data with other company

One more aspect worth mentioning is that when you use Evernote you store your data with another company and rely on them to keep it secure and intact. Although it’s a valid concern if you keep your files in plain text, in a Dropbox folder you’re really in the same situation. First of all if you want to keep things secure and private don’t put them onto internet or computer at all. This approach is not very practical and even governments store and transmit data using internet. It would seem that there aren’t that many secrets that would be worth the hassle. Obviously everything is a matter of personal choice and perception so it’s good to develop habit of assessing how critical and private the information is and apply appropriate measures. Read EFFs self defense guide if you want to know more.

Back to Evernote and storing your data. When you use the service you have a copy in the cloud and on your computer or tablet if you use paid account, so even if Evernote goes offline you still have the data on your computer to review and decide what to do with it.

Extra layer

As a precaution I make a backup of my database folder on daily basis so should anything happen I have a copy to recover from and I can always export it into different formats. I also keep a recent version of the installer on my laptop so I have double security. All this is backed up to external drive and encrypted storage online.

Lessons Learned

As with any experiment I’ve learned couple interesting lessons that I would like to share hopefully to everyone’s benefit.

The more information you put into a given application the more chances it has to provide you with better results or information that you may have forgotten about. If you keep your notes, snippets of data scattered around it’s first of all inconvenience to search couple locations and secondly you introduce a complexity and choice of where do I put this info. Sticking with one tool that covers all bases removes some of it.

A good naming convention goes a long way

When I was using plain text setup all of my files were in one folder which meant that to keep them organised in some sort of fashion I had to come up with good names. The way I approached it was to put a keyword in front of the name of the note and then add its title. Although this approach is not necessary in Evernote as I can set up notebooks to divide the notes it’s nonetheless very useful way of naming notes. This way I can keep a smaller amount of folders/notebooks and I can easily browse the notes and clearly see what they relate to.

As I mentioned above Evernote can export data into HTML format which is easily searchable by built-in search on Windows making it relatively easy to move away from the application and transfer somewhere else. The export process is very easy and my suggestion would be to export into individual text files.

file duplication and sync issues

When creating new notes with ResophNotes quite often I ended up with duplicated notes or notes with incomplete names. This seemed to be caused by the speed at which a note was synced with Dropbox effectively creating a different notes as I typed the title. This wasn’t a major issue but it was quite annoying when the wrong name was saved. It’s also possible to duplicate note within ResophNotes which would mean that when the duplicate was deleted also the original file would be removed from Dropbox folder. Although it can always be recovered from Drobpox it’s inconvenient and odd annoyance. I haven’t had any issues like that with Evernote.

Final version for now

Evernote now serves me as a single place for notes, ideas, web clippings, images, screeshots etc. Because of it’s unparalled search, capture and ubiquity it serves me as primary tool for archiving of stuff. The fact that I can store so much and so varied content in Evernote makes it even more compelling as it allows me to find not only a specific note that I might remember but also other that contain the same keywords. The more information I will gather in Evernote the more useful it will become in serving me the data I may need. Lastly if I was to recommend anyone a note taking tool I would go for Evernote simply because of the ease of use and capture of different types of information.

So where is plain text you may ask. Writing content. Evernote is excellent archiving/reference tool but for me it’s not good for writing. It has all the bells and whistles but it’s precisely what I don’t want for writing. This where plain text hits the nail the on the head. It provides focused and unobtrusive writing environment. As consequence plain text will be the place where I write everything from blog posts to other material. For this purpose I will continue to use ResophNotes for keeping tabs on all my files, WriteMonkey to do majority of my writing and text editing and Markdown to make it easy to publish on the web.

I realise that nailing down a good workflow and interaction of tools is a process that takes time and evolution where you move from one tool to another or supplement the existing ones with some thing new and the figure out how they work.

Lastly since I’ve effectively moved to Evernote I will be actively exploring how can I make better use of it and I intend to share links and my own thoughts in upcoming posts.

Hope you enjoyed this post and found some useful elements in it. I would be grateful if you could share your own thoughts and thinking process behind your tool and workflow selection.

Reading Workflow

Staying informed and making the best use of the information available is not an easy task if you consider the wealth of information available online. Over the last couple of months I’ve build a workflow which helps me deal with my reading. There are four elements in my little reading system: Discovery, Consumption, Retention, Action.
The primary tool which let’s my make the most of reading and helps me support this process is Instapaper. It’s fantastic web application that connects all the dots in my system. Although it’s geared toward iOS users (there are great apps for iPhone and iPad) I’m getting a ton of use on my laptop, Android phone and Kindle. If you look for an application to manage your reading I would give it a serious thought.

Discovery

There are two primary ways of discovering new and interesting content. First is Google Reader which let’s me subscribe to RSS feeds of favorite blogs and sites. My second way of finding content is Twitter and with good mix of similar minded people I can always find best content. Google+ is worth mentioning here as well although for me it’s primary discussion forum I suspect that over time it will become a information source.

Once I come across an interesting post or article I clip it into Instapaper or if I’m using my phone I add it to an app called Everpaper.

Consumption

My primary ways for consuming content are my laptop, smartphone and Kindle. Again Instapaper proves to be invaluable tool to make this possible. Ability to access my items on laptop and smartphone is very convenient but what’s more important is that I can send daily digest of 10 most recent articles into my Kindle. Additionally if I have a large number of articles to go through I can generate a file with all of them and then email it to my Kindle. Support for Kindle is one of the primary reasons I’m using Instapaper.

Retention

When I come across a particularly interesting article or blog post which I would like to keep I save it into my Pinboard account. This is my primary bookmarking service which lets me store my favorites online and have them tagged in every way I want. Ability to jot some note about bookmark and generate public RSS for tags makes it very versatile service. The app may not provide most eye candy but it definitely does get job done in quick and effective way. It’s worth to mention that Instapaper allows me to send any article to Pinboard. So each time I favorite an item it gets send to my bookmarking service for future reference. Then on weekly basis I review my recent items and add additional tags and notes if necessary.

Action

The point of increasing your knowledge is to make use out of it. For me there are three primary forms in which I interact with the content I found useful. First one is to share the content on Twitter, Tumbler or Google+. Second way is to use saved articles as inspiration for my own writing. For that I use a combination of WriteMonkey and text files to put down my thoughts and ideas and then publish on this site. A third option is to implements some of the ideas. This can be a tricky thing as it’s easy to collect dozens of ideas and not test any. In order to counter that I try to add only one to two things into my task manager and see how things work. Other ideas end up on my productivity mind map where I collect handy tips and tricks for later experimentation.