How to Make the Most of a Book or Course & Actually Apply it to Your Life.

When you're committed to your own growth and personal development (or building a business, learning a craft, or anything else for that matter) it's easy to turn into an information junkie. You devour anything you can read, watch, listen to, or participate in on the subject. But at a certain point it all starts to sound a bit samey. You might start saying "Well yeah, I already know that!" even though you haven't actually applied it to your life. And yet you still pick up another book or sign up for a new course. I know I do, anyway. But over the years I've been honing a strategy for fully absorbing the things that I learn and starting to practice it in my own life. Here's what it looks like.

Ask Excellent Questions

An excellent question is any question that helps you gain a deeper understanding of the material or figure out how to apply it to your own life. I love that The Blogcademy ladies made it clear that they were completely at our disposal throughout the two-day workshop. This was our one chance to get our questions answered, so I tried to make the most of it. But you can even ask questions when you're reading a book. Talk about the things you're reading about with a friend. Create a reading group. Reach out to the author through social media. Find a forum where the material is being discussed. Ask yourself how the lessons being taught apply to your own life. Force yourself to go deeper, rather than just passively consuming information.

Take Thorough Notes

Taking notes allows you to pull out the most important information so that you can come back to it again and again. It also allows you to make the content your own. You can scribble down anything you want to look up or write in ideas of how to apply the information . When I'm reading I love to underline passages and scribble in the margins, but I've also made a habit of writing my biggest takeaways into a favourite notebook. This way I've got a mini bible of the lessons I'm working on integrating into my day-to-day-life.


Click below to download the Punk Rock Note Taking worksheet, which will lead you through taking effective notes in style.

Schedule Your Action Steps

Information is useless unless you start applying it and integrating it into your own life. You won't be able to do it all at once, so instead make a list of action steps of the things that are most relevant to you right now and actually schedule them into your calendar. It's a simple thing to do and you're a lot more likely to complete them that way.

Review, Review, Review

This is the one tidbit I gleaned onto recently and it's having a massive impact for me. I feel like I harp on and on about the need to create rituals for yourself, but they really do make all the difference in designing a life you love. I've mentioned before that I have a monthly ritual of reviewing my goals, taking stock of my progress over the past month, and setting targets for the month to come. I'm now incorporating into that process a review of my notes from the key courses and books I'm working on applying. Often there's too much information to use it all in one go and as you make progress, you start seeing things in a new way. So by sitting down with my notes once a month I can pull out new action steps and figure out where they fit into my plan for the month. Plus regularly reading the information means that I absorb it more fully. Perhaps this isn't revolutionary to anyone else, but such a simple idea is leading to a lot of progress for me.

So there it is, my four-step process for making the most out of a book or course, and actually applying it to my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm still constantly devouring personal development and business books. But when I am drawn in by a shiny new course, I'm able to ask myself: have I fully integrated the information I already have? Do I even have time to start applying this stuff? Which can offer some great perspective when the information junkie in me just wants more, more, more.

What about you, do you have any tips for taking the information you consume from theory to practice? I'd love to hear!


Click below to download the Punk Rock Note Taking worksheet, which will lead you through taking effective notes in style.