How to Use Active Reading to Improve Your Business

If a business leader wants to remain relevant in today’s dynamic marketplace they must always be learning.  One of the best ways to learn and increase your knowledge is by reading.

Active reading, where you highlight important information and take notes on what is being read, is even one step better! Putting the highlighted passages and notes into a format that can be shared with others or reviewed at another time kicks learning up to a whole new level!

I have always been a voracious reader but I lacked the discipline required to go back to the books and pull out the highlights and notes. Because of that lack of discipline, I often spent many unnecessary hours searching through volumes of books for something I had read that I needed for my business.

Then Amazon changed everything . . . the Kindle was released in November of 2007!

I was an Amazon Kindle early adopter! I bought the early version of the Kindle and was hooked from day one. It was so much easier and faster to purchase an eBook (and in many cases cheaper) and have it delivered wirelessly to my Kindle than it was to order a paper copy and lug it around everywhere. It was also really easy to make highlights in the books and to take notes.

Next came iPads (and other “smart” devices) and the Kindle app which made the learning experience even more powerful. Now you could read, highlight, take notes in the eBooks on the Kindle app, and you could verify, validate and do extra research on the topics being studied via the internet on the smart device!

“Kindle Cloud” – The “Reading” Game Changer

Then, a few years ago, Amazon released the “Your_Highlights” option. This option records all the highlights and notes from your eBooks into your private “Kindle cloud.” You can then download these cloud based notes into whatever format you chose and onto whatever platform you desire.

Why Do You Want to Download Your Highlights and Notes?

So, what is the big deal about highlights and notes and why do you want to download them? Here are four compelling reasons to download your highlights and notes:

  1. Reviewing your highlights and notes helps to “cement” what you have learned
  2. Reviewing your highlights and notes points out knowledge gaps that you may not have noticed when you were reading. Identifying these gaps will lead you to do additional learning or research so that you have a firm grasp of what was being taught.
  3. It is much more efficient to review relevant highlights and notes than to reread an entire book
  4. There may be concepts that you want to share with your staff or peers. A downloaded version of your highlights and notes is easy to share.

Ways to Store Your Notes:

There are probably an infinite number of ways to store your notes once you download them. Here are some ideas:

  1. MS Word files
  2. Evernote
  3. MS OneNote
  4. iOS Notes app
  5. Google Documents

What I Do

Personally, I download all my notes from the Kindle Cloud into MS Word documents that I store in my Dropbox account. I do this because:

  1. The notes are now backed up and secure
  2. They are available from any smart device
  3. I can do a simple search of my Dropbox folder for any topic that I might be interested in and all the notes from the books that I have read that pertain to that topic pop up. I can then open up those files and pull out the data that I am looking for.
  4. The Dropbox folder or specific Word documents can be shared with anyone using the Dropbox sharing features
  5. I can click the Kindle references in my downloaded notes and it opens up the eBook in the Kindle app on my computer and takes me directly to the highlight or note so I can get more context if required.

How Do You Download Your Highlights and Notes?

What follows is a ten step method to download your highlights and notes from the “Kindle Cloud.”

  1. Create an account on Amazon
  2. Buy a Kindle formatted eBook from Amazon
  3. Start reading the book on your Kindle or using the Kindle app on a smart device
  4. Make highlights and notes in the eBook as you are reading
  5. When you are completed the book, go to
  6. The highlights and notes that you made in the eBook will show up on this page
  7. Highlight the notes and highlights and copy them
  8. Open up MS Word, OneNote, EverNote or whatever tool you want to use to record your notes
  9. Paste the highlights and notes into the tool
  10. Format them as you desire

Whether you read traditional books or eBooks, start capturing your highlights and notes for each book you read and recording these into a format that you can review, search or share. You will find that your learning becomes much more effective and powerful. Your ever increasing knowledge will give you and your business an edge in the marketplace!


Leave a comment on your e-reading experiences below.

Download a free copy of my new Ebook: 12 Steps to Business Transformation. If you are interested in a business assessment to help kick off your business transformation, contact me at or at 587-227-5179.

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