I have now released
The Ultimate Commonplace System

Announcing: The Ultimate Commonplace System

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the ultimate commonplace system2Hey there!

Lots of people have asked me about commonplacing over the last two-something years.

Fair enough. I’m probably the biggest commonplacing master around.

But I haven’t said much–because, what is there to say? You just sort of do it. 1 I didn’t realize it’s a skill.

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The questions have kept coming. Some I’ve replied to, most I’ve brushed aside due to being busy and not wanting to explain something that isn’t easily answered and would take me far more than 5 minutes of my precious time.

Many have asked about my commonplace. I have not answered because:

  1. It’s private.
  2. All success is based on some secret. Why share my hard-won weapon?

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Haha. You know what?

–It makes me think of something Charlie Munger said at Berkshire’s 2015 annual meeting:

Young guy: What do you think is the least talked about or most misunderstood moat around a business ?

Mr. Munger: Everybody would really like to have a misunderstood moat. You’re the greediest fellow that’s spoken.

[laughter]

All you want to know is if I have a moat that you can understand that other people don’t. A modest wish.

[laughter]

You’re going to ask a 91-year-old man how to do it? Reminds me of one of my favorite stories. A young man comes to Mozart and says, “With your help I want to compose symphonies.”

Mozart says, “You’re too young to be composing symphonies.”

He says, “Look, you were doing symphonies when you were 10 years of age. I’m 21.”

Mozart says, “Yes, but I wasn’t running around asking other people how to do it.”

[applause–because Munger is one of the best humans alive]

I’ve put out a lot of stuff for free, but not everything can be given away.

That being said, I really do want as many people as possible to learn how to start commonplacing. As far as I’m concerned, it should be taught in school, so that more people would become independent thinkers and accomplished autodidacts.

Alas, those sort of people–because they can actually think–tend to be hard to control and cajole. And we wouldn’t want that in a democracy, would we now? No sir.

The Ultimate Commonplacing System:

It will teach you how to create your very own system of commonplacing.

I will walk you through the process–step-by-step.

I will even reveal my top commonplacing systems after 4 years of trial-and-error (probably saving you a hell of a lot of time!).

When you learn to commonplace properly, in a way that suits you, it’ll allow you to create systems to scale your natural talents, amplify your learning, improve your creativity, and ascend your personal development.

This product will be the first of its kind.

There is no formal knowledge on how to create a commonplace book, especially not using digital technology (which allows you to scale your accumulation of wisdom to create your own information system–your own library–and retrieve the answer you want at any time).

The Ultimate Commonplacing System is now out!

 

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  1. …or so I thought, because commonplacing came very naturally to me. But it seems like it’s not natural at all for most people, even though they want to learn how. 

The Ultimate Commonplace System

Finally out. . .
Click for more info:

Join the Waiting List for my Upcoming Book:

Comments

  1. Subbed — now, please tell me more about moat(s) and explain the Munger or Berkshire joke. I don’t get it?

    • Moat = competitive advantage for a company. It typically takes a bit of time and mental effort to figure out why/if a company has a moat. It’s basically the equivalent of giving out a stock tip–that WORKS.

    • Jake —

      So here’s basically how it is: When you invest (if you are a long-term investor, not a short-term speculator) you want to make sure that the asset you hold is better than others. Otherwise, why would you buy this asset over another one? Exactly.

      “Moat” is Warren Buffett’s and Charles Munger’s special word for “competitive advantage,” which means that a company has a special something which others – like their competitors – cannot easily replicate or beat (even if they spend a decent amount of money).

      These “moats” are different for every industry. Only the most astute investors and intelligent students of markets can find them (with the exception of a miniscule amount of dumb-lucky people who stumble over them, like getting a winning lottery ticket).

      Tl; dr

      The guy in that quote was pretty much asking for a shortcut to success, like being asked to be given a winning lottery ticket.

  2. Nice. About time you put something out lol. I’ve learned a lot from you over the last year so thanks for that and I see what you mean.

    Anyway, I’m also a private person, so I wonder will there be some rewards to joining the list?

  3. I am curious, can you tell me how to do this?

    “create systems to scale your natural talents, amplify your learning, improve your creativity, and ascend your personal development.”

    Why do you think there is no other commonplace product out there?

  4. Good job Ludvig. Hope this things sells big and helps a lot of people. I will be buying it

  5. mr SNAKE says:

    Look forward to this Ludvig!

  6. Great to hear :)

  7. Nice!
    Been a reader a long time, never commented though.

    I think it might help somebody to see different viewpoints on how to do this, since I strongly agree with you on how it’s *extremely* subjective.

    I for one would be interested in how other readers tackle it, so I’m going to write about my own way to do things – maybe somebody can benefit.

    IMO, tt depends on how you think and what you need on your path.

    I’ve been commonplacing since I was in high school (although I called it differently). I tried different systems through the years, but I really hate note taking apps.

    In the end, I settled on a bunch of Markdown documents that get compiled to HTML pages through a script. This allows me to set everything about them and use anything that can go on a webpage. It’s not for non-technical people, of course – but took me 5 minutes to setup.

    Funny thing: I found that I really need it to look good. I find hard to consult my commonplace if it looks like shit (EverNote, for example, made my skin crawl). Now I have bold typography, nice colors, elegant math rendering, and other nice stuff. It’s a pleasure to look at, and that makes easier for me to spend time writing it and reading it.

    The key is to find what works for you and *make it useful*. Stuff you can’t use it’s a waste of time and space. I ask myself: “how will I need to use this information?” and then act accordingly.

    I tend to avoid taking direct notes from books and websites. I find it doesn’t help much. Instead, I use it as a “cookbook” mostly.

    For “soft” skills (mindset, business thinking) I have a series of documents with the practical steps I follow to stay on top of things. For example, I have a Mindset document that synthesizes what works well for me in a set of principles, and I review it and train my mind to apply them. I have a Copywriting process that I follow when I have to write copy, and which condenses the useful info I studied through the years. And so on and so forth.

    I’m in tech, and I deal with pretty hardcore math and science. This is not simple to commonplace: I can’t write *everything*, or I would never get it done. On the other side, I really benefit from having important info readily available. So I have a series of files with practical techniques and when to use them. The use case is this: I have a problem, I know how to categorize the problem – if it’s not trivial, I take out the toolbox and see what I can use to attack it.

    Example: I have a file about graph algorithms. There is no theory – if I need to review that, I’ll just use google or pick up a book. It contains a summary description of each (that’s all I need to be able to code it) and indications about the cases in which it is an optimal solutions.

    If I learn new things about a topic, I add it to the file. If I have personal notes, to the file (this is critical – stuff you get from books is meh, stuff you get from experience *must* be recorded).

    I also weekly review one file and practice everything. For example, when it’s differential calculus, I’ll pick up a book and do exercises throughout the week to keep it fresh. I treat each file of the commonplace as a unit.

    Excellence takes work, and you gotta practice over and over until things are natural as breathing.

    This works very well for me. Helps keeping the focus to kick ass.

    PS: Received the pdf you sent today about BOOH. Can’t wait to see the finished thing.

    • Very cool and impressive you built your own sort of commonplace. I too am into programming and building things myself, which is kind of weird, because most people who do this–I find–have a natural talent for doing so. Not me.

      I didn’t grow up building stuff. I just have a strong passion for self-reliancy and independence, and wanting to learn how to know enough about many different things to be on my own. Like a modern-day equivalent of a lumberjack or smith (the guy who’s always needed in the village but doesn’t need anyone else).

    • Those technological adaptations rock! You are right about the asteics of the system. I switched to Evernote and found that is when things began taking a turn for the worst and I stopped committing. Some people, like you and I, place high value on something that looks good.

      If a product is offering me something unique, which I cannot get elsewhere, then I can forgive less stellar design. I cannot forgive those same design problems if a product isn’t unique, and Evernote is not that unique. I enjoyed the experience of Onenote more.

      I think it comes down to the user experience. Extremely subjective.

    • Abgrund’s commonplace = 1 ea. 2″ x 4″ unlined notebook + 1 ea. ballpoint pen + 3 ea. whiteboards asst. sizes.

      I like your idea of periodically reviewing things even if you’re not using them.

      • Deliberate practice it’s the only way to achieve mastery – the state in which you don’t really need to *think*, you just *do*. If you don’t master the fundamentals, you are going to have a real hard time understanding harder stuff.

        I strongly believe this is the reason why people hit ceilings and can’t break through them.

        Typical example: college graduate in science and technology fields that can’t seem to achieve top performance in their fields. Usually, if you actually take a look, you notice they never mastered what they do. Hence they suck. They studied their coursework, got a passing grade, and think they “know it”. But they don’t, and it shows when they need those skills to progress.

        It’s really the same thing all the way down. If you are almost illiterate and have to make an effort to decode when you read, you can’t possibly assimilate a non-trivial text. You need to be able to read without thinking first.

        In tech the concept is commonly called “to grok”. From the Jargon File:
        “1. To understand. Connotes intimate and exhaustive knowledge. When you claim to ‘grok’ some knowledge or technique, you are asserting that you have not merely learned it in a detached instrumental way but that it has become part of you, part of your identity.”

        Grok things and you are top 0.001% in anything.

      • Amen to college grads that don’t know shit. For some, I don’t think it has ever occurred to them that knowledge requires more than putting in the time and money to get a degree. A little arrogance goes a long way to help keep them dumb, too.

        Occasionally I’m called on to review technical papers or teaching materials, and I have seen some really awful stuff presented by PhDs, mistakes that a 19 year old wouldn’t make if they thought things through. And I’ve seen an even more egregious error published by the U.S. government and endorsed by numerous “experts” in the field. They wouldn’t retract it until I sent them a six-page proof of what was essentially a fourth-grade math problem.

        Doctors are ten times worse, though.

      • 100 % agree with you Frank. Good elaboration on how to reach “unconscious competence”.

    • Hi Frank,

      Thank you for the very thoughtful comment. It seems like you know what you’re doing. Given the fact that you’ve been at it for years, how long would you say that it took you to distil your commonplacing practices/methods down to what you currently do?

      “I take out the toolbox and see what I can use to attack it.”

      –This is a major part of what I use my commonplace for too.

      “Excellence takes work, and you gotta practice over and over until things are natural as breathing.”

      –I agree. Again it takes experience…

      The problem, I think, is that many people quit early and do not have the patience to get the experience. They’re hesitant to commit to something that takes time, even if it can scale massively over time. Not good.

      • “how long would you say that it took you to distil your commonplacing practices/methods down to what you currently do?”
        A lot. It has been a pretty long cycle of failure/quitting/starting. I recognized pretty early the power that having a personal knowledge base could have, but had a hard time sticking to it because I didn’t have good practices.
        My first attempts where on notebooks, then ring binders, then evernote, then gdocs.
        As for the format, that took time as well. Knowing what is useful and what’s not it’s a matter of experience, I feel.

        “The problem, I think, is that many people quit early and do not have the patience to get the experience. They’re hesitant to commit to something that takes time, even if it can scale massively over time. Not good.”
        Yeah, it’s the classic “this takes too much, I can’t be bothered, I will waste the time instead”. Time goes anyway, might as well plant seeds that bear fruit.

  8. Hey Ludvig,

    Wonderful hearing that you’ll release this product. I have having trouble with commonplacing since I learned about it from you. You couldn’t be more right about making the system your own and adjusting to your specific needs, like Mikael Syding says: “Know Thyself.” Many of your audience, including myself, likely suffer from attempting to copy your exact structure which leads to struggling with commonplacing.

    I forgot who said this but you shouldn’t focus on copying the entirety of someone. You should pick and choose those features, skills, virtues and habits that easily apply to you. I believe Arnold mentioned something about this too.

    I have no doubt that your recent travelling has contributed to your intense focus of late. This summer I begin an annual tradition that involves intense solitude for 7 days, where I will remain alone deep in the woods with nothing but my thoughts. My family owns these wonderful woods where I doubt even the government would have the resources to locate me, and there is a wonderful lake for fishing!

    Would you say your recent solitude has manifested conditions which promote intense focus upon self and your work?

    – Shawn Michael Hartwell

    Would you say the solitude has given your mind the break from modernity that contributes to information overload? This would be my goal with starting this tradition.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here, here!!

      ” Many of your audience, including myself, likely suffer from attempting to copy your exact structure which leads to struggling with commonplacing.

      I forgot who said this but you shouldn’t focus on copying the entirety of someone. You should pick and choose those features, skills, virtues and habits that easily apply to you. “

    • Yeah, it makes no sense to outright copy the way I commonplace unless you have a similar sort of brain (and similar goals/interests). That being said there are still some pretty useful methods I think everyone should start out by trying/experimenting with, as far as things like:

      *Learning
      *Creativity
      *Self-reflection
      *Information systems

      “Would you say your recent solitude has manifested conditions which promote intense focus upon self and your work?”

      –Yes, and no.
      No:
      Most of my recent travels have not been alone. But exploring new things and meeting new people and learning new skills have probably made me more creative. Meeting people much more successful than I has probably made me more motivated too.
      Yes:
      I tend to go into “hermit mode” from time to time, and I stay away from social media, other people, email, and things like that. It’s not a deliberate strategy, I just do it naturally from time to time when I feel like it.

      “Would you say the solitude has given your mind the break from modernity that contributes to information overload? ”

      –Not exactly…But then again I don’t really have that problem to begin with. My commonplacing ensures that I organize (filter, categorize, and use) most of the informaton I take in. My “hermit mode” makes sure I ponder, digest, and synthesize the information into practical knowledge which I then either use or adapt to my framework of learning.

  9. A refreshing initiative as I am one of those who have asked you about how to commonplace but not received an answer :)

    I suppose I could learn to do it on my own, but time is money as they say, and then there’s the motivational aspect too. It has felt like too big an undertaking to do on a late night, I guess, that’s really my excuse now that I write it out and ponder it.

  10. Thanks Ludvig for putting out your commonplace system (or parts of it)! I think Munger told the young guy the moat with the last sentence:

    “Yes, but I wasn’t running around asking other people how to do it.”

    Execution. Isn’t that the “secret, yet not-so secret” moat? The moat to moat them all?

    • Hehe

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Florian.

      Re Munger & moats:
      –Yeah, it’s a matter of execution. But it’s a very abstract form of execution, and most people don’t have the intellectual rigor / proper study habits to find a real moat.

      • I can see that. In that way, my own secret moat to productivity is probably: “always make your bed”. It’s like magic. I make my bed and my bedroom is never untidy. Same with my desk for my living room, sink and stove for my kitchen.

        You keep the ONE central item in check, and the rest follows easily.

  11. I have my own rudimentary system of taking notes and keeping them stored in different places, now mostly as word files. However might be interesting to see how other people do it…

  12. Thomas Quinn says:

    A re-write of BOOH AND a commonplacing product?

    You’re a machine, Ludvig. I aspire to be of your calibre one day.

    – Thomas Quinn

  13. Wow that’s great news!

    I just signad up now and look forward to see what you have coming up :)

    I read your BOOH pdf the other day and am excited for the finished book. I hope you got my email with feedback.

    And I like what you did with the Site with a portrait on top, it makes it more personal and friendly.

  14. Sergio says:

    Any update about when this will be available? Looking forward to it!

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