The Ultimate Commonplace Book

How I use Trello to Capture Everything

Justin Zack


Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

I’m a reader. My wife calls me a hoarder. I’m probably somewhere in-between.

There are two problems I have when it comes to reading books. Storing them and remembering the interesting things I find in them.

I can highlight, annotate and underline like the best of them, but I struggle with taking the gems I find with me. I’ve tried taking notes in the front of the book. I’ve tried summarizing them. I’ve tried reviewing them periodically. If there’s a strategy to taking nuggets out of a book. I’ve probably tried it. None of them have worked for me.

It wasn’t just books. It was anything that I found interesting or noticed.

I carry a notebook with me and capture stories, notes and other oddities, but stuff gets lost in there. I fail at the habit of reviewing and applying all the goodness that “Getting Things Done” has to offer.

Then I stumbled across the notion of a Commonplace Book. It’s been covered extensively on Medium. Ryan Holliday has a couple good posts about how he applies the concept. My oversimplified interpretation of this “Book” is an indexing system for you to use for whatever you’re working on.

After reading Ryan’s post, I almost went off and bought a truckload of index cards to start in on this new found system. Wisdom won in the moment.

Hoard No More

I was never going to write all these quotes and notes on index cards.

First of all, it wouldn’t bode well for me at home with my hoarding reputation. A thousand note cards strewn across the floor and table was not going to fly in my house, so I turned my nose up and told myself, not for me. I will go back to…nothing.

Then in a stroke of genius, I thought about Trello. Trello is a collaboration tool that allows you to organize projects into boards using a card system. I guess it was the idea of a card that triggered the moment of…



Justin Zack

Project leader. Product thinker. Write about human things. Find me at