You’ve heard of speed-reading.  Here is how to enable speed recall with Crusoe so that you can always remember what you read.

I have saved thousands of online articles, book highlights, PDFs, etc. into Evernote since its 2008 release. Every time I saved one of those articles into Evernote I was saying to myself “I want to remember this.” But today, I bet I couldn’t recall more than 1% of all that stuff. When I DO stumble across one of my old forgotten notes, I open them to see a lot of text I don’t remember and which I have neither the time nor the reason to read it again. I’ve saved them, but they are forgotten and as good as gone.  I have hundreds or thousands of hours tied up in reading all this material and it’s as if I never read a word of it, which is a pretty depressing thought!

Crusoe does two things to end this despressing state of affairs: (1) It can “remind” you of things you have read at just the right moment by serving up your own, past trains-of-thought, and (2) You can use Crusoe to re-read long articles in two minutes or less.  Here is how you do #2:

1. Save the entire article into Evernote. I love Evernote’s Web Clipper for that, but there are other methods that are just as good.

2. Begin the title of your with “Article1.” For instance, last night I read an article by Joseph Epstein. I used Evernote’s webclipper to save the article and I titled it: “Article1 The Cultured Life | Joseph Epstein | The Weekly Standard.” The Article1 naming convention tells me it’s an article I’ve linked up in Crusoe and so when I see a note beginning with Article1, I know I can read it again very quickly.

3. Start reading the article.

4. When you see an interesting sentence or paragraph(s), clip it into a separate note. The title of that note should sum up the highlight in your own words (Unlike Evernote, Crusoe shows you your full titles). Begin the title of your first note with 01.

For instance, my first highlight/note from the Joseph Epstein article is: “01. The various meanings of the word culture.” The actual highlight says there are 164 definitions of “culture” and he provides some examples.

The second highlight I made from the article is: “02. Matthew Arnold’s definition of high culture” and the note contains a few paragraphs leading up to Arnold’s definition of high culture. My third highlight is titled: “04. High culture is a YEARNING to something higher. Joe Epstein had none of it growing up but he found at the Univ. of Chicago.”  That’s a clear enough description of that part of the article that I don’t even need to open the note to read it.

Crusoe linked notesHow you title your notes is important.  First, it’s always a good exercise to try and sum things up in your own words.  It helps you both understand and retain the material.  These descriptive note titles also help me navigate the article in Crusoe, allowing me to skip the parts I don’t want to re-read and home in on what matters to me at a given moment.

5. Connect all your highlights to the original note: “Article1 The Cultured Life | Joseph Epstein | The Weekly Standard

And that’s it.  Now when I want to read the article, I just tap on the Article1 note and out come all my highlights in Crusoe’s LinkView.  Once I’m looking at all the notes in Crusoe’s LinkView, I sort those highlights in Crusoe by title. Now they are all arranged in the order they appear in the article. That’s why I numbered each note 01, 02, etc. in the title.sort-2

It took me about a half-hour to read the 5,500-word article and to save and link all my highlights in Crusoe.  That’s about 10 minutes longer than it would have taken me to read and not save anything.  That extra 10-minutes is the difference between having real access to the article forever and never seeing it again.  Remember, on average we forget about 90% of everything we read after about 30 days.

A year from now I will likely remember little or nothing of that article, but all I have to do is to tap on the first note (“Article1 The Cultured Life | Joseph Epstein | The Weekly Standard”) and out pop all my highlights.

These short titles give me a quick gist of everything I wanted to remember about the article, often without opening a single note!  The summations also explain why I highlighted particular sections, and they allow me to navigate quickly in Crusoe.

And inevitably, one or two of those highlights will bring to mind something else I’ve read.  Rather than link the whole articles together, it makes a lot more sense just to link the parts that speak to each other.  Now if I’m looking at one of these articles a year from now, I’ll come to this highlight and voila!  Another forgotten highlight will appear in front of me at the very moment it I want to see it again.

Here is what it all looks like when you’re done: