Using WorkFlowy as a Note-Taking + Study Retention Tool [Video]


April 7, 2016


For all those note-takers and academics out there: Connor Bray-Stone is going to walk us through his kick-butt system for taking and reviewing notes in WorkFlowy, in an easy-to-follow video.

His pièce de résistance is a simple, yet smart way of turning reading notes into Q Cards – with the ability to black out keywords for testing -consequently boosting study retention.

Connor works as an instructor for young children with autism, providing 1-on-1 ABA therapy to teach skill deficits. His educational background is in linguistics (bachelor’s degree), and is currently studying to become a board-certified behavior analyst.

Connor tells me,

“I read a lot of non-fiction and I often come away from reading a book with what I think is a good comprehension of the concepts and principles of value to me in that novel. I’ve always been disappointed, however, in my own ability to retain the information I’ve learned. Six months or a year later, and I’ve lost most of what I learned. Over the last year or so, I have therefore made it an ongoing project to come up with a WorkFlowy-based system for improving my retention of the information I acquire when reading non-fiction books.

My system draws several of its components from the SAFMEDS learning procedure. It’s definitely a work in progress, but I think I’ve arrived at an adaptable system that improves information retention without requiring so much effort as to take the inherent enjoyment out of reading.”

SAFMEDS: Say All Fast a Minute Every Day Shuffled

I’ve broken down Connor’s video into time frames so that you can find and review any of his dynamics easily:

  • [00:00 – 02:20] A basic setup for structuring reading notes.
  • [02:20 – 05:30] Turn your lists into Q Cards by blacking out pre-defined phrases.
  • [05:30 – 07:50] Connor’s star-based dynamic for his SAFMEDS hybrid.
  • [07:50 – 09:20] Filtering for outstanding reviews and notes already mastered.
  • [09:20 – 12:30] Reviewing a range of notes with a random numbers generator.
  • [12:30 – 17:05] Increased levels of difficulty when reviewing your notes.

How do I get those blacked-out phrases?

You’re going to need to use the Stylish extension:

Can I tinker with the same list in the video?

You most certainly can: Click here!

How do I generate random numbers?

Connor’s advice:

“The app that I use for generating random numbers is aptly called “random numbers generator” (for android). There are a lot of apps that generate random numbers, but the big thing is finding one where you can specify a specific range and also where there is a setting so that it never generates the same number within that range more than once.”

How do I get text from a book into WorkFlowy?

This is a tip that extends beyond the use case looked at in this post: There are phenomenal tools out there. One such example might be an app called eHighlighter (iPhone). You take a snapshot of your page as you’re reading… highlight the text parameters you want and give it a page number, etc. You can then export from your phone to a number of destinations – or you can sign into their web interface and copy excerpts directly to WorkFlowy. It it exceptionally accurate. I use it to get excerpts from printed media into copy-pastable, editable text. It works for multiple languages.

Spice it up with Dingbats!

Instead of blacking out your words, you can substitute them for Dingbats. There are some really fun (free) Dingbat fonts on the web. The font in the screenshot is called “Creatures”:

Here’s the “inverted” style:

Here’s a shared WorkFlowy list with the Stylish code and a download link to some free Dingbat fonts I’ve handpicked in one downloadable zip (.rar) file (and further instructions).

EDIT: I might add that the original idea for “hijacking” the Underline emphasis I bummed off Rawbytz on WorkFlowy Hi-Liter.

Get EXCLUSIVE bite-sized  WorkFlowy  updates: tips, tricks & news about FREE online workshops with Frank Degenaar. Sign up here.

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Workflowy replaces your notebooks, stickies and bloated apps with a simple, smooth digital notebook that makes it easy to get organized and be productive.