This is something my friend Patrick Rhone talked about often over at The Cramped (at least, before he went nonline). He linked to this very post in fact. And I love the idea, even if it is one I have not adopted myself.

What is a commonplace book? Holiday explains it this way:

A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.

It’s a popular concept these days as the analog/paper revolution continues to gain momentum. Austin Kleon advocates the practice. Shane Parrish has mentioned the term only a few times, but I believe his posts on becoming a better reader reflect some of the concepts. And Shawn Blanc is currently on the hunt for the best setup for a digital commonplace book.

Personally, I have not yet adopted a paper journal for this purpose. And I may never do so. However, I do a similar sort of practice with a combination of tools and Day One as the hub.

I have not taken the time to really nail down my setup, but it is a hodgepodge of saved items from Pinboard, Instapaper, and my RSS reader (Reeder on iOS, Readkit on macOS). IFTTT pulls highlights and likes from Pinboard and Instapaper (and Medium, before they shut down their IFTTT integration) and auto-generates journal entries. Other times, I use the share iOS extension to add items manually (which is still easier than hand writing).

My one area that needs improvement is reading paper books. I have started highlighting a lot more as I read and making an index in the back of the book. But most of those items of interest are locked away in the book itself. I should take pictures of the passages, or something. Room for improvement.