Use phones to collect and triage, not (usually) to read

Because it’s important to Write about what you read to internalize texts deeply, we should be wary of reading on our phones: we’re usually not in a position or mindset to write!

This can be dangerous because reading articles on the phone can feel like it’s doing work, but Knowledge work should accrete, and this kind of reading mostly doesn’t. It’s mostly just for entertainment.

In a pinch, I can use my Pocket memo pad to capture into writing inbox while out to take notes while reading on my phone, but it requires a stable, flat surface: otherwise I’d need one hand for the phone, one hand for the memo pad, and one hand for the pen.

When I feel tempted to read something thoroughly on my phone, I should instead Close open loops by using A reading inbox to capture possibly-useful references. I can just add that thing to my queue and move on.


Reading a whole article on the iPhone is a welcome pastime, but it’s not an efficient way to expand my knowledge. Thus I ask myself: do I want to read something just to “ ” myself, or do I need to work with it later? edu-tain The answer to this question determines whether I will read the article or just skim and file it.

On my phone, I prepare stuff – that’s web pages and news feed items – to become an actual thing in terms of my knowledge management system. That’s what a reading list is for. Although I can’t write notes for my archive in a reasonable way, I can still decide which articles I want to take note of. In this respect is my iPhone a device to filter the web and my feeds.

Last updated 2023-07-13.