Today will be another installment in the series of posts about things I’m still figuring out. I am a big fan of fiction and would do little besides read novels, given the chance. That being said, I think it is very important to read something daily with the express purpose of learning.

As I’ve discussed before, I picked up the journaling habit accidentally, while trying to capture what I’m learning, and because of that, I decided I should only read these learning books with my notebook near-to-hand. Since I also listen to some podcasts with learning in mind, I applied this new rule to them, too. Pleased with myself I named this rule, “purposeful reading and listening.”

This was working pretty well, but then work got busy, I did some traveling, and went on vacation. When I first ran into trouble, I just set aside the learning in favor of lighter fare. No big deal. But then the next day saw no learning, and so did the one after that. I soon realized I had just a few alternatives: I could figure out new ways to take notes; accept many days would not have active learning; or do my learning without notebook on hand, noting takeaways whenever I got a chance.

Though I greatly prefer taking notes on paper, I have tried using phone apps or dictating notes to Siri. This has felt both slow and disruptive to the learning, and I think I would prefer saving a direct audio recording. I’ve considered writing directly in paper books, and a combination of highlights plus notes in Kindle books, but I still have a mental block about writing in books and often use the library. Notes and highlights in the Kindle is a bag of hurt, and I can’t imagine coming to like this.

If it turns out to be rare, I am more than okay with just skipping the off-days, but I don’t like plans that only work sometimes. Combining this with alternative note-taking after a string of non-learning days may work, but I would be relying on my lazy brain and weak willpower. I would need to create a rule for this middle ground. I like rules.

This leaves the option of just learning how I always used to, without much thought given to notes. I’m doing this now, as a temporary measure, but it may stick long term. I’m currently reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit this way, and I plan to note my takeaways in my notebook when I’m all done. I may also fold in some notes from folks online. This process may actually cement my lessons-learned more firmly, but I’m not sure.

The conventional wisdom is that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”, and this is certainly true here. I have found value in working this through, but I am unstatisfied with where I am now. I’ll report back when I know better what I think.