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  • We Were Tired of Forgetting The Books We Read — So We Use This System (TPS245)

Books are an amazing source of learning and leverage. For little or no money, you can quickly learn what someone else has spent years figuring out, and you can avoid the mistakes that they made.

However, there’s a big difference between READING a book and LEARNING from a book, and more importantly IMPLEMENTING what you’ve learned.

In this podcast, we’ll share our best systems and strategies for reading books and implementing what you’ve read.

Thanks to Grammarly for supporting The Productivity Show. Grammarly is offering our listeners 20% off a Grammarly premium account. Go to Grammarly.com/TPS to get 20% off your Grammarly premium account today.

Cheat Sheet:

  • Why Thanh and Brooks developed this system [3:47]
  • What books Brooks has been reading [11:30]
  • The books that Thanh and Brooks have gifted the most [14:15]
  • Why highlighting alone is not good enough to retain more knowledge from your reading [16:33]
  • Why Brooks uses mindmaps to organize his takeaways [21:41]
  • What makes something a “highlight” to Brooks when he’s reading [25:12]
  • How Thanh implements action items from a book into his life [28:36]
  • The review process, and how Thanh and Brooks go over their takeaways [33:25]
  • How his long-term review process helps Brooks “gain interest” on what he got out of his books [38:21]
  • How Thanh and Brooks use thinking time to get the most out of their new information [43:29]
  • The key to making your system work, no matter what system you choose [45:06]
  • What you can do to take action with this system and the books you’re currently reading [45:55]


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Asian Efficiency Team

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  1. Hey all,

    I think about this episode a lot as I’m reading books, finishing them, and then wondering why I don’t get much. I appreciate that you planted this idea in my head that I may be able to improve this about my reading.

    I recently stumbled on a system that is reminiscent of Brooks’s mindmapping technique, but may yield more fruit in making connections with other books or topic that have interested the reader. It’s called Zettelkasten, and (very poorly paraphrased) it is similar to a wiki and a mindmap. You can see more here about it and how it works. (https://writingcooperative.com/zettelkasten-how-one-german-scholar-was-so-freakishly-productive-997e4e0ca125 and https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/NfdHG6oHBJ8Qxc26s/the-zettelkasten-method-1)

    I’m currently reading a book right now and allowing myself to spin my wheels on little nuggets of info that struck me. Similar to mindmapping, I can start to see connections between disparate parts of my life and how they connect to the topic at hand. And as I do this with more books, the connections may get stronger and yield more interesting data points, leading to greater discoveries. Just a hunch, a grand experiment, but thought you guys would be interested in a new framework.

    Take care, and thanks again!

  2. I found this quote by Eugine Peterson to be pertinent and inspiring. The podcast fleshed out some of what he’s saying in is book.

    “Reading is an immense gift, but only if the words are assimilated, taken into the soul-eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight.” from “Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading” by Eugene H. Peterson

  3. I’ve been a listener for years and am currently a Lifetime Member of AE and this has been the best episode for me in a while. Not that others don’t have amazing content, just for me personally being able to take action on the books I have read/am reading. I currently read a book and if I find value in the practices, I re-read and take notes on each section and then try to implement or apply to current/future goals or practices. I put all of my books in a mind map but for some reason never thought of the notes. My notes are hand-written to add the tactile effects but using the mind map to then tie in the books (they all reference each other it seems) is a “no brainer” and I’ll have to re-listen and go through the Mind-Mapping pages again to spark new ideas on how better to implement. And of course, experiment. It’s not fun unless you fail a few times to find that one “perfect” way that syncs with your own brain to allow the flow to occur. Just felt compelled to leave a reply and let you know that I appreciate all that your team does and will continue to listen. I am active duty military so a lot of things can’t be implemented in my work center as easily but we do utilize the SOPs “militarily”. Enjoy your week and hope you are as productive as life can permit.


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