John C. Maxwell’s Filing System

I first became acquainted with John C. Maxwell’s intense filing system while attending a seminar. Have you ever wondered how he knows so much about Leadership? He has used this one filing system his whole life.

John C. Maxwell's Filing System

Have you ever read a John C. Maxwell’s book and noticed all the boxes with very fitting quotations from authoritative personalities? I, incorrectly assumed that there were tons of people working at Thomas Nelson Publishers who took his books and found quotes that fit nicely into the context of each section. I was wrong.

It turns out Mr. Maxwell knows so much about leadership because he is a sponge – absorbing and storing information. His car stereo only plays audio books. He is a speed-reader and finishes a book a week. He often speaks at seminars where he sticks around to catch the presentations of other thought leaders.

All the while, John C. Maxwell is taking extensive notes. I’ve actually seen him pull out his iPhone on stage and take down a quote he just heard from a fellow speaker he was sharing the stage with. The man’s filing system is s source of knowledge and wisdom.

I use Evernote as my external memory.  For months, I had Evernote loaded on all my devices but never really knew how to use it until I read Evernote Essentials.

Equipped with Evernote and the knowledge of how to use it, I began my intense filing system to remember everything.  Here is how you too can create an extensive and vast collection of knowledge and wisdom using my filing system:

Paper – I use Scan Snap, which is just like the one Michael Hyatt uses.  I use this to capture any thought or idea that I find on paper. This is often in a magazine, book, or pamphlet. I use the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i because it connects seamlessly with Evernote.

Web – I scan more than 200 blogs and news sites on the web everyday. When I find something of interest, I use the Evernote web clipper extension in my Google Chrome browser. I can clip the entire article or just the quote I highlight. This is the single fastest method I’ve ever found for capturing and storing information found on the web.

Things I See – The other day I saw a quotation on a hanging sign in a store. I opened Evernote on my iPhone and captured an image of the quote. Forever captured.

Seminars – I try to attend a seminar each quarter. While there I take notes on my iPad or in a Moleskine Plain Notebook Large. See Michael Hyatt’s Lost Art of Note Taking to find out how I take notes and still enjoy the presentations. Whether I’m taking notes on my iPad or Moleskine, I transfer them to Evernote as soon as the seminar ends.

Notebook on Evernote – I have a notebook on Evernote called “filings.” I know, original. I save all my filings and interesting thoughts in this notebook. It helps keep the clutter down since I add at least 5 – 10 things to this notebook daily. This way I can open this single notebook, then begin searching for tags from there.

Tags – What good is a shoebox full of baseball cards when you’re trying to find only the Yankees players? The same is true for your filing system. What happens when you want to seek wisdom on leadership and you’ve got to sift through a few thousand quotes about life, faith, and business? Thank you Evernote Tags. I use the following tags the most often: leadership, business, life, faith, wisdom. Just tag your filings then you can search for that tag when you need it later. Evernote will display only filings with that particular tag applied.

Review – What good is a filing system of knowledge and wisdom if you just write it down and forget it? I prefer to go to the well at least once a week and focus on one particular topic per week. It is also a good idea to find ways to use the thought and ideas. You’ll learn the fastest by actually applying them.

John C. Maxwell is smart, but he’s not that smart. How can one person possibly remember so much information? Store it in your external memory by applying this system and you’ll be surprised how much you actually retain.

What device do you prefer to store your filings?

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