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Referencing 'nuggets' of info from books

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  • Referencing 'nuggets' of info from books

    Been using GTD for a few weeks and as an huge reader of biz books and literature I was wondering....... what if anything anyone uses as a database for collecting categorising and retrieving those golden nuggets of infomation we all read about. The types of things are marketing strategies, business ideas, quotes and the like.

    Is there a nice software - database tool I can use to capture these snippets of genius without having to re-write lists in paper form when I find one - something software and instant ?

    Any thoughts would be welcome


  • #2

    I would be interested in a tool for this as well. I currently create checklists of key points for books to refer back to - mine are kept in bonsai.


    • #3
      I use OneNote for this

      I've tried doing this a number of ways over the years. Here's my current solution.

      I always keep a small Post-It flag dispenser handy (one on my desk and night stand, in my briefcase, etc.). When I encounter something in a book or magazine, I mark it with the Post-It flag and jot a quick reference in my NoteTaker wallet. When I get to my Inbox, I drop the note in for processing and generally enter the text into OneNote (where I have a "Books" section) on the next Inbox processing run.

      I can usually get these inputs done under my 2-minute rule threshold so they don't tend to stack up too often or too badly.


      • #4
        Yeah ! thats quite nice - I may try that as I use OneNote also. Its the speed of getting these nuggets down without having to stop the reading flow too much.


        • #5
          You got it!

          Originally posted by jezza
          Yeah ! thats quite nice - I may try that as I use OneNote also. Its the speed of getting these nuggets down without having to stop the reading flow too much.
          Exactly right! I hate breaking my flow when I'm immersed in reading. At one time, I used to put the book down, grab the Palm and actually scribbled the text in. By the time I'd done that, I'd lost my groove. This technique provides minimum interruption and I never lose a great thought I've encountered.


          • #6
            Alternative Outliner to OneNote: NoteMap

            There is another excellent outliner on the market that doesn't get much press outside legal circles. It's called NoteMap and is available at

            NoteMap is a very stable product and the company offers great tech support. I am an attorney and use it for both legal specific and general knowledge management. Relative to GTD, I have an outline of my manila file folders, which is in reality a printable index. For example, I practice exclusively in family (divorce) law. If I am drafting a decree and need to see how I addressed something previously, I simply pull up my NoteMap file, choose the letter "D" - for "Decrees" and then I have each separate decree listed there alphabetically by client name, along with a short explanation of the reason I kept that particular document. It's hard to explain but it looks something like this:

            "D" Tab
            -- Smith - 2001 - good example of post-secondary expense sharing
            -- Thompson - 1998 - unusual parenting plans
            -- Wilson - 2004 - pension distribution formulas

            etc. etc....

            NoteMap lets me easily and quickly search by words and phrases. I'm now adding my electronic (Word and PDF) files to this outline as NoteMap has a feature that links files to individual outline nodes.

            NoteMap has a good "getting started" FAQ that is actually a NoteMap outline itself. Very intuitive. I have no affiliation with the company other than being a satisified user.

            Just another outliner. And no, there's no Palm app for it. Windows desktop only.


            • #7

              First, you might consider reading the book a project and state what the outcome would be to be successful. Your method may flow from that ("as a result of reading 100 ways to improve my writing I will have 6 new things to try--therefore I will need a cue card at my desk"). Some books, you may just want a few quotes from, some you may want to mindmap as you read, others you may want to outline, some you may want to mark portions with post-its. Second, just as a starting point in elevating your use and management of the literature you are consuming, try puting a few sheets of larger sized post-it paper (4 x5 or larger ) inside the cover and a few smaller ones as well. Use the small ones to mark pages that hit you as important and the large ones to summarize in as few words as possible why the material is important to you and its potential relevance or whatever you want to "make yours". You can also use larger paper folded to store in book that would be more suitable for diagrams and mindmaps. While I am really intrigued with the NoteMap software described above (and may explore it) it may be something you only need for selected reading projects. Another idea-keep an index card file or regular file of inspirational or motivation quotes.


              • #8
                re: tool available?

                I've used outliners to organize my notes by tabs. What I would find neat would be a way to add little snippets of notes to files listed in Windows Explorer that could be quickly viewable either by highlighting your mouse over the file or by clicking once on the file.

                I have different pdf and other files downloaded, and if I could see a sidewindow notepad popup say if I clicked on the file once, that would be great. Going even further, have functionality built-in where I could right click in the scratchpad area and it come up with a view of my tabs that are within my outliner and let me add to my outliner with one click. The closest I've seen to this is EverNote (where it is accessible via right clicking, to add text directly to a new note). Wish that more outliners had this functionality and seamless control. Just don't like the way EverNote organizes things so I use TreePad. Anyone have GTD templates for TreePad?

                Seamless integration. That is the mantra that I'm looking for.


                • #9
                  I haven't found a definitive solution to this either. My current approach depends on whether I'm reading the material in connection with a particular project, or as general continuing education.

                  If I'm reading for a particular project, I either take notes (if I don't own the book) or annotate (if I do) as I read. Later, I'll do a mindmap for the project which contains brief summaries of the key points in my notes. After the project is over, the mindmap serves as a summary of the information and an index of primary sources.

                  For general reading, I take brief notes summarizing things that strike me as important, identifying possible action items, etc. These go into my Inbox and thence into my GTD system. Non-actionable items like snippets of information go into a personal wiki (WikidPad, to be precise) . I experimented with doing mindmaps of general reading -- which Buzan recommends in his book -- but decided it was too much work for not enough benefit. If/when I do want to recover the information, the snippets I saved will give me enough information to go back to the primary source if desired.

                  Long term projects -- learning a language, book-length writing -- tend to accumulate many more materials and require much more organization. For those, I tend to do much more organizing as I go, for instance by constructing intermediate mindmaps, keeping dedicated notebooks, and so forth.

                  I use paper for almost all my serious reading and primary notetaking. When I read the source document electronically, it's very tempting to just cut and paste entire sections without actually reading and digesting them. Though I could scan my notes and capture them electronically--and do for drawings--typing them in encourages me to be more selective and, again, to actually think about the material first.



                  • #10
                    I think there may be numerous solutions to this, and whatever works for one person may not be suitable for another.

                    I read many many books any more on my Palm, so there might be a number of ways to capture favorite quotes/passages on your Palm -- from a simple copy/paste command and the MemoPad with the "Book Quotes" category to using a database program such as FileMaker Mobile or a number of others available for Palm OS (SmartList to Go comes to mind or Mobile DB -- many of these also sync with your PC/Mac).

                    For "paper" books -- I still read those too -- Post-It notes is a good idea -- you can then process all of your Post-its during your Weekly Review for instance.