2 Tips to Make Reading Books Actionable

Everyone has different tips when it comes to how to make the most out of the books that they read. I’ve written 4 books now (WOW – How did that happen?!?!?!?) and read tons of books.

Once of the challenges with reading books, as with training is how to take all of the interesting things that you learned and translate them into ACTION. At the end of the day, if reading a book doesn’t inspire you to do something differently, it isn’t generating a result for you.

There are 2 strategies that I use when reading books to really drive myself into ACTION.

1) Post it Notes

I use Post It Notes to write down the KEY THINGS THAT I WANT TO DRILL INTO MY HEAD. For example, I was reading a book with tips about speaking. They key takeaways that I wanted to build into my social media presentations in the future are on Post It notes infront of my desk. I look at them every day in the morning and before I leave to get them into my head. As I notice that I am implementing them, I remove the notes.

I reserve postit notes for action items. Not every interesting point warrants a postit – only content related to behaviors I want to change or create, or new mindsets that I want to adopt. The frequency of seeing them makes it easier for me to remember and build habits.


2) Single Sheet for future reference

I also create a one-pager for future reference. Some of the tips in a book are things that I’ll want to refer back to at a specific point in time. For example, the book The Tipping Point talks about the motivations that drive people to share. When I’m in content creation mode I sometimes refer to this to determine if my content is sharable, or if it is reaching the motivations around why people share.  Taking key notes on a one-sheeter allows me to easily access the key points when I need them.

I sometimes create page references (if relevant) for concepts that can’t easily be translated into a bullet point. That being said, my goal in reading and absorbing the book is to really take-it-in. If I can’t summarize it simply, I may not have yet internalized the idea.

For me, highlighting a book is useless because it requires me to go back through the book to find the information. This makes it more time consuming and less actionable.

How do you make the most out of the books you read?


  1. In making the most out of what I read, I usually compile all my main points or takeaways in an app called ColorNote, which is basically a portable post-it that doesn’t have a space limit. I’ve found that explaining my findings through every day conversations if suggestible also really helps me retain them too. Sometimes I post things like quotes, affirmations or points like suggested and it has allowed me to retain them verbatim – probably going to start doing that again after reading your article though.

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