I’ve read over a dozen books in WorkFlowy so far. But why? Why in blue blazes would I do that? Simple, really: For the unparalleled flexibility WorkFlowy gives me in being able to turn any scrap of information therein into a #todo, a #reminder or a research #category… and being able to take notes to my heart’s content – so that it all becomes part of my workflow.
If you haven’t yet put a book into WorkFlowy, it’s a crying shame: You’ve been missing out on possibly the most effective way to (1) act upon gems of information being provided and (2) to glean, gather and group research data in the simplest of ways. Hands down, reading and interacting with book content in WorkFlowy is the most intuitive way I’ve found to squeeze every ounce of practical worth out of any book.
Bookmarking – baby steps
So… let’s just say that you already have a book in WorkFlowy and you’re minding your own business and just reading along… and it’s time to wrap things up and call it a day. What you might want to do is give the paragraph you’re reading a @bm (bookmark) tag. That way, when you filter for it with a master tag on, say, your home page, the exact place where you left off “magically” appears. Zoom into its parent list and… voilà – X marks the spot:
The above book I’m currently reading – Launch, by Jeff Walker – is a must-put-into-WorkFlowy book for me. I’m learning about internet marketing – and there is a heck of a lot of actionable information to be had. I rarely read a book twice, so I like to do a thorough job the first time ‘round.
But what about pictures?
Some hands-on books have more than a few images. Here’s a supplementary PDF that Jeff Walker links to in his book. I took the images, saved them in Dropbox and popped an inline image link to them into WorkFlowy. So now I’ve got text and images in what is becoming more of a project outline than a book outline:
Memorable information and note-taking
Last year someone sent me a link to an entire “book” that was posted directly in a blog post. There were many takeaways and ideas I wanted to be able to find at the drop of a hat… so I tagged all tidbits of information that I deemed memorable with an #m tag:
As you will see, I also experimented with taking notes in a separate “My Notes” outline. What I did to cross-reference my notes with the part of the book I was commenting on, was give them both an identical #n- tag with a couple of random alphanumerical characters.
Here’s a shared list to the above book outline if you’d like to get your hands dirty.
Serious Sci-Fi research
As many of my book readers are painfully aware, I use a lot of Sci-Fi references in my writing. Each of my references are carefully researched and double-checked with the original source(s) for accuracy. Below you’ll see an outline of an awesome book I read – Red Planet Blues, by Robert J. Sawyer. In the book they had the technology which allowed them to transfer the human mind into a synthetic body – the person was then called a “Transferee”. I thought this would be a great reference to illustrate the benefits of digitizing your information and/ or doing a brain dump into an external brain, i.e. an app of some sort (WorkFlowy). So I tagged all relevant portions of the book as I read through it with a #transferee tag. Below you will see that instead of taking notes in a separate outline, I wrote them directly into the note of each list in question:
A productivity spin
The book, Red Planet Blues, consisted of 47 chapters. I read one chapter a day for 47 days without breaking the chain, using Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain!” method. I also gave each chapter a time tag, indicating how long it’d taken for me to read each… and with just one click of rawbytz’s WorkFlowy Count bookmarklet, I was able to calculate that I’d spent almost 11 hours reading (and taking notes on) Red Planet Blues.
You get out what you put in
There are 3 things that can be said to be certain in life: death, taxes… and the fact that putting books into WorkFlowy may require an outlay of time and effort. If you’re looking to push a button and have everything magically imported into WorkFlowy in the perfect hierarchy, sorry to have made you read thus far. (Actually, sometimes a plain copy-paste from a PDF may render the perfect outline) It all depends. Let’s just assume that you’ll be copy-pasting in portions and that you’ll have to indent your hierarchies manually. BUT what I am hoping to convey here is that even if it took you a whole hour to get things looking pretty, the benefits of having certain books in WorkFlowy far, far outweigh the effort of inputting them. In fact, you’ll actually save tons of time in the end – that is, if you’re serious about doing the stuff you read about. It shouldn’t take you more than 5-10 minutes once you know what to do. Here are a couple of pointers:
- The best method I’ve found for getting, say, the contents of an ePub file into WorkFlowy is to first convert it to a text (.txt) file online and then paste into WorkFlowy.
- Some PDF’s will paste perfectly into WorkFlowy with the indents you’re after. If not, you’ll want to use Ctrl+F in your web browser to search for and highlight, say, “Chapter” so that you can indent the contents of each chapter – enabling you to collapse them. I’m confident you’ll figure this out for each unique book you’re trying to outline in WorkFlowy.
- Remember that WorkFlowy now has a pasting limit of 2,000 list items at a time… so you may very well have to copy-paste chapter by chapter. Using a text (.txt) file as the middle man is a really decent strategy here: you can cut and paste your text chapter by chapter into WorkFlowy until you end up with an empty text file.
- While on that train of thought, keep in mind that if you’re not a Pro subscriber, you have something like 250 lists per month you can burn through, unless you refer others to WorkFlowy and have them sign up. Suffice to say that putting books into WorkFlowy is an awesome reason to invest in a Pro account.
The Good Book
If you’re looking for a sizable book to test out – and if this is your thing, here’s a shared WorkFlowy list of the King James Version of the Bible. It involved yours truly copy pasting just under 1,200 individual chapters, one by one, into WorkFlowy. Not to worry, this particular translation/ version qualifies as a public domain body of work, given a number of considerations… so feel free to embed it into your account.
Keep in mind that if you ever wanted to edit any shared list and take notes on and/ or tag certain portions thereof, the only way to do this would be to duplicate the list after having embedded it into your account (Alt + Drag on a bullet). Besides having a 2,000-item copy-paste limit in WorkFlowy, there is a 1,000-item duplicate limit. This means you’ll have to duplicate an embedded list in portions. In the case of the Bible, trust me, I did all of the heavy lifting already – so no complaints from anyone!
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