I'm a philomath. A philomath is someone who loves learning, which is wonderful, but there is also a downside: there is never enough time for all the learning I want to do. However, I have found tools to streamline and supercharge my personal and professional learning process. Here are eight for you to try today:
Audible is my go-to audiobook provider; I enjoy fiction for wellbeing and relaxation and non-fiction audiobooks for learning.
I listen to audiobooks on the go - it's efficient; however, taking notes is a challenge. For this reason, I often purchase the Kindle version of non-fiction books and the audio version. Through some Amazon magic, the two talk to each other and pick up where the other left off, allowing me to highlight and make notes on key points (via my Kindle) at the end of the day.
A free option is your local library, as most lend audiobooks now.
While Twitter is first and foremost a 'social' space, there are also learning opportunities. Follow thought leaders for their Twitter threads and links to longer-form content. Join Twitter Spaces and Twitter Communities - both are great opportunities to learn from and with peers and experts.
Notion is a workspace for thinking, creating and collaborating; it's also a way to keep track of the various strands of your learning journey. For example, you might create a database of all the books you read and the associated highlights and notes you take (the Notion Readwise integration makes this easy). You might plot the timeline of a long course you are studying to capture critical milestones (I did this for my masters). You might create a reflective learning journal in Notion to reflect on and monitor your development.
After years of testing out various note-taking tools, I am currently using and enjoying Obsidian. Obsidian sits on top of plain text files that live on my computer (backed up, obviously). I like knowing where my data is, and I like that I can move it anywhere I want. Obsidian works with Readwise, so it a perfect fit in my personal knowledge management system.
Obsidian is a free tool, but I pay annually for their syncing service.
When I am reading for non-academic reasons, I usually start on Medium. The user experience is elegant, and the article quality is generally good - it somehow prevents content overwhelm. I love Medium's new read-aloud feature - it is one of the best I have used. While Medium is free to use, you are limited to the number of articles you can consume daily, so I pay for a monthly subscription (which ends up paying for itself as I also publish on Medium as part of their partner programme).
Zotero is a free, open-source reference management tool that has been invaluable for my academic study. Until recently, I only used Zotero to manage papers and references; however, I now use it for highlighting and annotation, thanks to their recent update (and the introduction of an app). This video, from Danny Hatcher, explains the latest Zotero update.
Much like audiobooks, podcasts are a great on-the-go learning resource. Up until recently, I found my podcast consumption habits had decreased due to the audio note-taking issue. Some clever app designers took notice of the problem, and a selection of podcast apps with the ability to take audio snippets have entered the marketplace. My favourite is a free app called Snipd, not least because it integrates with Readwise. My audio snippets land in Obsidian, complete with a link to the original audio and a transcript. Problem solved.
And finally, it's been mentioned several times already, but Readwise is probably the most important tool in my learning 'tech stack'. Readwise brings all of your annotations and highlights from ebooks and articles together in one place and allows you to sync them elsewhere (Obsidian, Notion, Evernote or Roam, for example). It also has a built-in repetition/resurfacing feature that helps you get the most learning from what you read. Readwise is a paid service but worth every penny.
Try it out for free (and get an extra month for free) using my referral link.
Hopefully, some or all of these apps will help you become an efficient philomath. Let me know your thoughts in the comments - I'd love to hear from you.