One of the things I’m always looking to improve is note-taking. Taking notes, by itself, improves retention and understanding of what you read. The real benefit, however, is that in the long-term, you have a repository of notes that you can query for information when you need it.
Although not the same, people call this a commonplace book, notecard system, a slip-box, a second brain. Luhman’s Zettelkasten has also received increased attention in the last few years.
In my workflow, every time I start reading a book I open a new file. All notes about the book go into that file. In my notes, I usually follow the structure of the book. Many times my notes are literary quotes, other ideas that summarize the main points of each chapter of the book.
After finishing the book, ideally, I go through the file and create other independent notes with individual ideas, writing them down in my own words and connecting them with other notes already in my notecard system. This is where the real value is added because it allows you to later develop topics bottom-up from within your system.
This is also where many times I’m failing. I finish a book and start the next one. I don’t prioritize extracting these permanent notes. This needs to change. One thing I’ve begin doing is extracting permanent notes after finishing each chapter, without waiting until I finish the book.