Chart Your Life with a Commonplace Book

A commonplace book is a great way to take down reading notes, quotes, knowledge, questions that arise from your studies and many other things; it’s shaped by you. It is a great idea, and I recommend that you try making one for yourself!

A commonplace book is a collection of quotes to reading notes. It reflects your personality, and your interests. For students, it can help you keep track of your educational journey. After you use it for a while, it will give you a record of what you’ve done and how you have changed.

Basically, a commonplace book is a compilation of information that the person writing it thinks is relevant. Commonplace books were used a lot in the 15th century, by writers including John Milton, Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain among others.

My commonplace notebook is in a green Moleskine which is large size. I put a Moleskine tool belt on it to keep my pens, pencils and rulers in. I will write how I use my commonplace book in next week’s post!

Setting up your commonplace book

There are many ways that you can make a commonplace book. Some prefer to use analog ways such as notebooks or flash cards, whilst others prefer digital methods such as Evernote or Onenote. Personally, I prefer using an analog method. I do this because when I write down the quote or the reading note, I think it through. It also stays in my mind a bit more. However, when I finish a spread of pages in my commonplace book, I do scan it into my .Timeline notebook in Evernote, which allows me to search it.

Once you have chosen the medium you want to use, whether analog or digital, start collecting! The things found in most commonplace books are: quotes, knowledge, reading notes such as quotes, reactions of specific bits in the book and to the whole book in general, and book summaries in your own words.

Write in quotes you find from reading, or have a ‘discussion’ with the book. If you find something in the book you want to comment on, write it in your commonplace book!

This is your own book, so it is defined by you. You can put in anything you want to – recipes, quotes from movies, goals such as yearly goals and life goals, important photos, clippings from newspapers and anything else you can think of.

Once you have chosen what you want to put in it, you probably want to choose how you will organise it. You may want separate sections for each topic, such as reading and quotes. Or, you may prefer to have all your information in one place. You can see how I organise my commonplace book in next week’s post.

Once you have started your commonplace book, make sure you keep adding to it regularly!

Thanks for reading, and make sure you read next weeks post on how I use my commonplace book.

Feel free to comment below!