An Online Commonplace

Over on Whims That Work, Drew and I had a chance to talk about his latest project Collected Goodness. It’s an intriguing project that I was a bit skeptical about but ultimately decided could leave a positive impact on those reading the words shared.

It’s an online commonplace book. I won’t go into the details of what that is here, but if you’re curious you can check out the wiki.

After we finished recording that episode, I came around to the idea and decided to build one of my own. But I also wanted it to be something that we could encourage others to do as well. So when I built out my version I made it a Jekyll theme that you can use out of the box and get started right away.

So if you’re interested in these projects, you can check out the following links:

Collected Goodness - Drew’s online commonplace

Collected by Joe Buhlig - Joe’s online commonplace

Jekyll Collected Theme - for you to create your own

What I’m reading

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This is the next book for Bookworm. Mihaly has been mentioned in numerous books since we started the podcast so I figured it was about time we read the source. But I also know that this week is going to be extra busy due to a conference I’m heavily involved in at church. So I likely will have this one on the list again next week.


WTW - 18: Is It Even Good to Have Goals?

The morning routines conversation from the last episode prompts a bit of followup. Drew asks a daunting question: Is it good to have goals? Also, Joe asks Drew about his latest online project.

Books added to the list

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

This is the next book up for Bookworm and was Mike’s pick. So naturally, it goes on the list and will be up next after Flow.

Interesting Productivity Guild topics

So Things 3 looks sort of nice… (help!)

This topic was revived recently and has some interesting ideas about a potential GitHub task manager and someone trying out Things over OmniFocus.

Using the OmniFocus Review Perspective as a Tickler for Projects and Single Action Lists

This is the latest installment in Wilson’s productivity deep dive. Even MacSparky jumps in to clarify how he’s doing some review work.

When is software too expensive? App pricing and in-app subscription

I learned of a new pricing model through this topic. It’s a freemium model with paid upgrades. That’s a combination that seems viable but definitely different.

Words That Challenge

A Tactical List of How to Plan Your Days, Weeks, & Projects

I’ve only skimmed this one so far and I need to spend some more time with it. Matt Ragland has an intriguing process of life planning and task management on paper that requires some thought.

Making Trade-offs – Isaac Smith

If you’re going to add something to your life, you’ll likely need to remove something else. It’s a constant and ever-evolving balance you’ll need to make or at least come to grips with.



I’m on my longest streak ever for meditation. But other than that, no news on this front.

Morning Pages

Again, they didn’t happen at all this week. I’ve been trying to catch up on some sleep debt I’ve accrued and this is the first thing to go in the mornings.

Extreme calendaring

Check out the latest Whims for my thoughts on this. Basically, time blocking doesn’t work for me at the week level. I need to go to the daily level.

If you'd like these in your email, you can either subscribe here on the Guild or via my website.

These commonplace sites look awesome. I’d like to apply what you made with Jekyll on my own Wordpress site to create my own online commonplace - just not sure how to. Is there a guide to apply your code here on my own blog?

You should connect with @drewcoffman on the WordPress side. That’s what he’s using for his and I know he’d like to see more of them.

I know I’ll probably be stealing Joe’s Jekyll theme and rolling one myself!

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I’m actually using an excellent Wordpress theme that felt out-of-the-box ready to work with the commonplace book concept. It’s called ‘Huntt’ and you might find that it fits your needs as well.

I have never been one who enjoys dabbling around in the backend of things, so I was very happy with this solution. @joebuhlig and I came about this very different ways, and I think that fits both of our personalities very well :wink:

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Ok - starting my own right here:

A long time ago, I’d had the idea to make a more automated way to capture text for a Digital Notecard System - I think it was after reading the Ryan Holiday article on his Notecard System. I came up with a Workflow that combines Prizmo Go & Drafts. It scans your text with your iPhone, turns it into plain text using OCR, asks you to name it, and then drops it into your Dropbox as a .txt file that includes the date, time, title and location.

As I set up my Online Commonplace book, I think I’ll be using this a whole lot more. I think it was @drewcoffman who said a few WTW episodes ago that he’d made a lot of Workflows that he never used, and this was one of mine. I think I’ll be using it more now.

@joebuhlig - I remember years ago you talking about a tool called TheBrain. It would provide a visualization that the one could use to connect certain things inside of a framework - documents, websites, concepts, etc. I would really love to eventually have a way to visually connect a lot of the concepts I capture in the Online Commonplace Book - I guess not unlike what I saw with TheBrain.

All very cool - @drewcoffman and @joebuhlig - thanks for setting all this up!

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This is actually my end game with the Jekyll theme. I’m working out ways for it to automatically pull together a list of similar posts based on the hyperlinks in the post itself. That’s why I link everything I can and every time. When the aggregation portion is in place it will show a summary of all the posts that contain similar topics.

That’s the plan anyway. :wink:

I started building one myself with WordPress a few months back. I need to finish out some of the technical side of it to show the relation between books and quotes and surface any of the writing I’ve done that go with a quote, but all the data is there on the backend.

Had a site hack/crash a few weeks back so I’m building out a new theme for my site that will start to take all of this into account.

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Definitely keep us posted when it’s complete. :+1:

You said to keep you posted so…the online common place book is up. Still have a bunch of data to get into it, like 50+ books, but it’s useful for people that aren’t me now.

Love any feedback on using it that you have.


@curtismchale - wow. That’s a cool idea. Pulling a major quote to help recall one of the big selling points of the book is a great concept.

But I guess I don’t want people knowing about me being a closet fan of Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars just yet :relaxed:


I am not closet either of those. I came out years ago.

BTW, I believe @joebuhlig is possibly a newly converted Star Wars fan.