Techniques/workflows for repeated information review?

I don’t think it controversial to state that we better retain information if we repeatedly review it. This is particularly true for me: information only tends to stick in my brain if I consciously make an effort to repeatedly refresh it in my mind, in the days, weeks and months after I first encounter it. But I have this issue - I find it hard after initial study to return to and refresh myself about information I have encountered. What I find is that I easily discover and initially review information and then store such information for aspirational repeated or more in-depth study. But I’m very bad at going back to the information to look at it again. I’m storing information in various places (eg DEVONthink, MindNode, Day One, OmniFocus, Safari reading lists, notes in Amazon Kindle books, in GoodNotes and no doubt in many other places) but I rarely revisit it for further study.

Now I think I just need to knuckle down and develop a review strategy to revisit such stored information. The point of this post is to ask you all whether any of you have developed any strategies to do this, including any software based solutions. I guess what I would love is a cross-app system analogous to OmniFocus’s review function which would prompt one to revisit certain tagged information at regular future intervals. Does something like this exist? Or maybe one could create something like this with OmniFocus - i.e. create an action in that app with a link to the relevant information source with a prompt to re-review it at various points in the future? There’s probably not an easier fix? But I’m fascinated to hear what techniques or workflows any of you might have developed in this regard.


Sound like a job for Anki, which implements the proven spaced-repetition model for creating lasting memories. This technique helps with memorization. To put those memorized factoids to use, to actually learn the material, I recommend The Feynman Technique. This helps you link new information to things you know, manipulate the concepts to gain understanding, and to assess what you really know about something. This is difficult because our brain misleads us into thinking we know things, when in actuality there are pieces missing.

I use MindNode, Day One, Reminders, Due, and Pocket, but not for anything that needs review.

What I review on a multiple-times-a-day basis are my calendar (I use Google Calendar, accessed on my iOS devices with Readdle Calendars 5, and on my Mac usually with CalendarPro, and my lists, which I primarily keep in Google Keep. (I access Keep with Google’s iOS app, and on the Mac with Sergii Gerasimenko’s KeepNotes app.) What I like most about Google Keep is how all the Post-It style notes are open and visible all at once.

When I’m working on a project, I might gather my thoughts and notes in some combination of outliner (OmniOutliner), shoebox app (EagleFiler) kanban (Trello), and writing app (Ulysses or Scrivener or BBEdit, for the most part). Sometimes MindNode too. aBut I don’t need to review those the way I do my daily and upcoming tasks, which I mainly just have as Google Keep lists and reminders (in Due & Apple Reminders).

Just by looking at my lists I can make the needed decisions about what to prioritize. I tried a couple of task managers (Notion, Todoist) and they didn’t stick. For me at least, a simpler workflow using lists that I look at a lot and make decisions about works better than software that needs to tinkered with assistance from due dates, stars, priority levels etc

No solutions here but wanted to chime in to say I feel you.

I often feel like “review,” as a broader productivity category, is the missing link between who I am and who I want to become.

I am convinced the solution has to do with habit creation and/or modification but I haven’t been able to crack that nut just yet.

Thanks for posing this question, I’ll be following this thread with interest.


First off I limit the number of places I put notes and things like this. I use DEVONThink and regular files. I never put notes in the Kindle app, if I save notes from books they go into DEVONThink. I also don
t use the Safari reading lists, I have an Inbox folder in safari that is where my bookmarks go and I process it like any other inbox regularly, usualyl about once a month or so. If I want tokeep the items and review them later I move them into a DEVONThink Note.

Then in Omnifocus, I have a quarterly recurring project that is a big review in which I look at all my various lists and since in DT I put notes I want to review in logical groups I can easily review them. I have actions in the OF project that point to the main SW packages where notes and info are, basically DEVONThink and the main file system.

Seems to work well, especially when I do a yearly review of all paper and electronic folders and see things. My file naming scheme is pretty good at letting me knwo what is there so it’s easy to see things I think I should review and then add them as specific actions within a single read/review project in OF.

Thank you for the responses to my question. I think I will proceed as follows:

  • Ensure all my information is stored in either DEVONthink or Day One and no where else.

  • To the extent I want to revisit/review information added to these apps, extract a DEVONthink or Day One item link (as the case may be) from relevant item into OmniFocus and set up the task with (i) an appropriate defer date (1 week in the future) and (ii) a subsequent repetition a month following the first review date. Thus providing at least two (or possibly more) review reminders in the future. To the extent the link export to OF can be automated, that would be a bonus.

  • OmniFocus will then prompt me on the relevant defer dates to revisit and review the relevant information, directly accessible from OF via the link into DEVONthink or Day One.

Key to the success of this scheme will be to only use it sparingly - avoid overloading myself with items to review at future dates. That may be the greatest challenge of all!

1 Like