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How I Use Kindle Highlighting to Learn More Effectively

My software ecosystem for staying ahead of the game.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

I use Kindle high­light­ing to learn more effect­iv­ely.

To keep up with everything PR and the ever-chan­ging media land­scape, I’ve devised a soft­ware eco­sys­tem to help me learn and put new insights to use.

I like this sys­tem because I don’t have to com­mit any­thing to memory at those exact moments when I’m stum­bling across some­thing useful. 

Alas, the sys­tem does­n’t help me remem­ber everything I read: it encour­ages me to read more and util­ise everything I want to know and understand.

The secret sauce? Highlight notes.

Maybe this sys­tem could inspire you to stay ahead, too.

The Setup: The Everything PR System

The sys­tem I use to stay on top of everything PR makes good use of a few pop­u­lar ser­vices that are easy to access for every­one. However, it does come with a few sub­scrip­tion fees to get the needed functionality.

Also, it’s worth not­ing that every­one is dif­fer­ent. I learn by tak­ing notes and then using those notes cre­at­ively myself. You might learn differently.

While this sys­tem would work for any know­ledge-intens­ive top­ic and not just PR, it’s also worth con­sid­er­ing that it’s per­haps most use­ful for experts and thought leaders.

Step 1: Reading Everywhere and Always

I try to read every­where and always. Before fall­ing asleep. In cafés. In the metro. On busses and trains. When eat­ing lunch solo. And so on.

Whenever I feel like read­ing, I don’t want to begin search­ing around for some­thing to read. I want some­thing worth read­ing ready to go.

To always have some­thing to read in a con­trolled envir­on­ment, I use a few spe­cif­ic tools:

My E‑Reader: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is my e‑reader of choice. Of course, any e‑reader will do, but I recom­mend a Kindle spe­cific­ally for the sync options (more on this below).

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

So, how do I super­charge my e‑reader?

The key is, of course, to find and read the right books for your needs. I focus on books that are use­ful for PR, along­side some fic­tion and books on my interest and hobbies. 

I’ve chosen the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite as my e‑reader. I enjoy the back­lit screen, and the chan­ging col­our tem­per­at­ure paired with 8GB stor­age is enough for my e‑book needs. There are more expens­ive altern­at­ives with wire­less char­ging, sim-card sup­port, and auto-light­ing, but this ver­sion is good enough for my needs. 1Constantly buy­ing and read­ing new books can become expens­ive, but I’ve always con­sidered good books a worthy invest­ment.

My RSS Reader: Feedly Pro+

I use Feedly Pro+ on my smart­phone to fol­low care­fully cur­ated RSS feeds from sources regard­ing PR, mar­ket­ing, social media, big data, busi­ness etc.


So, how do I super­charge my RSS reader? 

I’m adam­ant about revis­ing my RSS sources at least once every month. My goal is to have my RSS read­er only pull in high-qual­ity art­icles I’m highly inter­ested in reading.

Another way to super­charge your RSS read­er is to cat­egor­ise your feeds by trend. If you want to stay updated on machine learn­ing, cre­ate a tag and find a source that will give you the latest updates weekly. Via this struc­ture, you could keep tabs on 100+ spe­cif­ic trends. 2I’ve con­sidered shar­ing my RSS feeds on Doctor Spin. However, I also use these feeds to keep up with my cli­ents. And their interests aren’t mine to share pub­licly. In my book, all con­fid­en­ti­al­ity … Continue read­ing

You can also get cre­at­ive with RSS feeds by using ser­vices like Google Alerts and oth­er search-based feeds.

The Feedly Pro+ plan will set you back $8 per month, but I’ve opted for this plan for sev­er­al reas­ons, using high­lights being the main one. But this plan also allows me to build my RSS feeds, a fea­ture that I use to apply fil­ters to spe­cif­ic feeds with too much noise.

I also use Feedly Pro+ to fol­low news­let­ters to put less “stress” on my inbox and instead send myself a cur­ated news­let­ter with all the best new con­tent.

My Save-for-Later: Pocket Premium

I use Pocket for sav­ing read-later articles.


So, how do I super­charge my saved-for-later list? 

With so much to read online, and so many art­icles being shared around my social media feeds, I try to only for­ward epic con­tent. To para­phrase Derek Sivers—“it’s either hell yeah or no.”

The Pocket Premium plan costs $4,99 per month. I sub­scribe to this plan to get unlim­ited high­lights and a per­man­ent lib­rary of everything I save.

Step 2: The Highlighting Habit

I high­light the rel­ev­ant pas­sages as soon as I find any­thing worth know­ing and remem­ber­ing. Kindle, Feedly Pro, and Pocket all have in-app func­tion­al­ity for mak­ing such highlights.

Highlighting is a reward­ing habit. It’s like stum­bling across valu­able gems and pick­ing them up. A help­ful book or art­icle provides me with many not­able highlights.

My Highlight Aggregator: Readwise

Enter the magic: Readwise.


I use Readwise to auto­mat­ic­ally pull all high­lights from Kindle, Feedly Pro, and Pocket. I aver­aged 5,6 high­lights per day dur­ing 2021 — which equals 2,000+ high­lights per year! But that’s not the end of it.

Readwise will then do two more things for me. Once every day, it sends me an email with a ran­dom selec­tion of high­lights to my inbox for review. This is the best news­let­ter in my inbox by far.

The second thing Readwise does is push all my high­lights into my “second brain” — Notion. 

Readwise is a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice that costs $7,99 per month.

Step 3: Putting the Knowledge To Use

My Content Management System: Notion

Notion is a note-tak­ing tool with stream­lined data­base func­tions and much user free­dom. 3To make the most out of using Notion, I recom­mend Ali Abdaal’s YouTube chan­nel on per­son­al pro­ductiv­ity.


Since Notion is my everything-online tool, I spend much of my work­ing hours in Notion. I use it for plan­ning, remem­ber­ing, review­ing, cre­at­ing etc. So, access­ing a wealth of care­fully cur­ated high­lights of pure know­ledge with­in my online work­space is fantastic.

I use the high­lights in Notion to “super­charge” blog art­icles, online courses, and social media con­tent. I also love to cas­u­ally review these high­lights and tag them to use them for build­ing new habits, set­ting goals, and mak­ing changes to my life in general.

Despite being the most potent tool in this sys­tem, Notion is free for single users.

Total Cost: The Everything PR System

The total monthly cost for this soft­ware eco­sys­tem is $20,98 (not includ­ing the price of new books, an e‑reader, and a smartphone). 

It adds up using vari­ous sub­scrip­tion stream­ing ser­vices, premi­um online mar­ket­ing, and web­site tools.

But I find this sys­tem to be a worthy invest­ment. I work as an expert con­sult­ant, speak­er, con­tent cre­at­or, and edu­cat­or in a fast-paced envir­on­ment. I need to keep my PR know­ledge updated and fresh. And I find learn­ing to be one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Pavlov’s Inbox

Pavlovs Inbox - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Good boy. (Photo: @jerrysilfwer)

Pavlov’s Inbox

Pavlov’s Inbox is an email sys­tem built around the idea that your inbox prob­lems can­not be solved by more effi­ciently pro­cessing email (e.g. Inbox Zero and sim­il­ar sys­tems). Such sys­tems will only reward unfa­vour­able sender behaviours.

Pavlov’s Inbox sys­tem assumes that you can influ­ence the beha­viours of those send­ing you emails — through conditioning.

  • Reward email senders you favour by reply­ing swiftly and doing as much work as possible.
  • Punish email senders you loathe by politely push­ing work back to where it came from.

Pavlov’s Inbox sys­tem is based on psy­cho­lo­gic­al ideas on how to reward and pun­ish email beha­viours in a socially viable man­ner (being rude as “pun­ish­ment” might only be det­ri­ment­al to your pro­fes­sion­al repu­ta­tion).

The oper­at­ing prin­ciple of Pavlov’s Inbox is to a) reward favour­able types of emails by min­im­ising the amount of work required by the sender and b) pun­ish unfa­vour­able emails by max­im­ising the amount of work required by the sender.

Learn more: Pavlov’s Inbox: The Psychological Way to Tame Your Email

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

1 Constantly buy­ing and read­ing new books can become expens­ive, but I’ve always con­sidered good books a worthy investment.
2 I’ve con­sidered shar­ing my RSS feeds on Doctor Spin. However, I also use these feeds to keep up with my cli­ents. And their interests aren’t mine to share pub­licly. In my book, all con­fid­en­ti­al­ity agree­ments between PR con­sult­ants and their cli­ents are sacred.
3 To make the most out of using Notion, I recom­mend Ali Abdaal’s YouTube chan­nel on per­son­al productivity.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo has nothing to do with public relations, of course. I share for no other reason that I happen to enjoy photography. Call it an “ornamental distraction”—and a subtle reminder to appreciate nature.

The cover photo has


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