Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. Such books are essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas.
Commonplaces are used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts. Each one is unique to its creator’s particular interests but they almost always include passages found in other texts, sometimes accompanied by the compiler’s responses.
You already might having one but ask yourself do you have it organised and using it as one it is intended?
Digital Commonplace book
Any notes app (note-taking app, notes management app) can become your tool for managing your commonplace book. I suggest starting with Evernote because you can collect almost 30+ types of content with Evernote. No tool offers Evernote’s versatility in collecting information and digital content.
Evernote is one cool app with better but simple features to organize your digital content with ease. And for casual use, the free version is all you ever need. (premium version is not costly though)
Why you need a commonplace book?
Tracking what you know and find what you should be knowing
In this age of information, We are constantly hoarding more and more information every day. We often lose track of already what we know and what we were learning when things become a little overwhelming. By having a commonplace book and by reviewing it (even on an occasional basis) you will know what you have to know next.
Connecting by mining, creating new ideas by connecting
Someone said connecting different ideas is called innovation. Commonplace book will help you to find those connections on what you already knew. Over the time it will be helpful to know what you have already processed and you can use it then and there instead of starting from the first point.
Progressing & evolving
We take a project finish it and throw it away with all the resources we have invested/used in that project. By throwing it away we are losing a part of references from our experiences. We often lose track of what is evolving out of any process. Instead of looking at every work as a project, look at it as a short duration in a process of gaining your experience. The experience you gain out of every work you do is so much matter than the number of projects we have completed.
Produce deliverable knowledge instantly
By having a commonplace book you don’t have to go anywhere are you don’t have to start from scratch to share a solution you already know. You can’t share what you are thinking as a solution to your team or to others. If you have a non-tangible resource like a written text, quotes, photos, references, proofs all at your disposals, then it is the true knowledge you can use and especially to show others with authority.