I am fascinated by learning and retaining information. Why? Because I sucked at it so much. To jump straight to the results of this post, check out: NOTE TAKING RESULTS: THE ART OF DREAM LINING. Where I share one of my first notes ever taken using the system I explain in the post below. So let’s begin and break down how a dyslexic like me takes notes to organize and remembers everything*

Understanding and decoding the written word was always more challenging to me than my classmates. When I was 8 years old, my mum informed me that I was dyslexic. I cried, as I thought It was some sort of disease at the time. Looking back, it was the best thing that happened to me. It turned me into a little fighter that had to work like hell just to pass in some cases. It made me grateful for what I had achieved, and not compare myself to others. It made me highlight and play to my strengths and understand my weaknesses.

Seychelles, 2012. Showing off my golfing tan lines. Reading "Losing My Virginity" By Sir Richard Branson.

Seychelles, 2012. Showing off my golfing tan lines. Reading “Losing My Virginity” By Sir Richard Branson.

My parents only ever asked one thing of me growing up, and that was; “As long as you give it your best, that is all anyone could ask of.” The philosophy was simple. And of course there some instances when I did not fight like hell. I gave into early. But they were few and far in-between.

Last week I met an old friend of mine, which I had not seen in over 10 years. He is 21 and he had read over a thousand books. I amazed by how much he had matured, and just how knowledgeable he was, about everything. It was a delight to be in his company.

I do my best to read as much as possible. I try for one a week, but it is always more like one a month. I do not find it easy, and I would not say it is particularly enjoyable. Sometimes it feels like a bit of a mental workout to get through. But that this when I am learning the most.

Author Matt Kelly, trying to tell me something!

Author Matt Kelly, trying to tell me something!

So how does someone like me, a dyslexic, churn their way through books? Dissect, deconstruct and retain the information along the way? Let’s take a look.

Step One


I always use a highlighter whenever reading anything. But it does not stop there. Highlighting doesn’t help me retain any information. It is what I do with that information that helps make the learning stick.

I will start off by underlining the section of the page that I thought was valuable in yellow. I will then dive in again to find the real key takeaway from that section in another color. In this case pink.

Step Two


This is where the learning starts to sticks for me. Again, like anything it is finding out what works best for you and running with that.

After highlighting the most important takeaway in the paragraph, I will then summarize this in my own words. So I understand the information or point made in an index at the back of the book. I will make a note of the page number and fold the page corner and place a blue star next to the information that has been added.

Step Three


If the information is not needed or if the author just waffles on because he is trying to fill pages, cross it out. If it does not add value to you, it does not need to be there. This way you can revisit book, and go straight to the meat.

Step Four 

Taking notes is good but it can be overlooked. The reason for taking notes, is not so you can re-learn what you have read. If you have not understood along the way, then you have rushed the process. In this case, take time, go back and get it right first time. The reason why you take notes, is so that you can save time, and you do not have to plough through the whole book again.

With your index notes, copy into Evernote.com 

Quick view of what Evernote's interface looks like.

Quick view of what Evernote’s interface looks like.

More resources on this?

SuperMemo: Improving memory, self-growth, creativity, time-management, and speed-learning software.

Anki: Friendly, intelligent flashcards. Remembering things just became much easier.

Sivers.org: Collection of books and book notes from Derek Sivers.

Brain Pickings: Maria Popova, the world class note taker.

Audible: Get your first story free.

Ryan Holiday: Book email newsletter.

1000 Books: My reading list.

Note taking results: My notes take on setting goals.


As said earlier, I am fascinated by this subject, and would love to know how you go about learning, reading and taking notes? How do you go about remembering everything and organizing your research?

Thanks again for reading and visiting my site.

Berkeley, California.