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Sometimes even if I am interested in a topic and in need of sorting through it, I am still unable to get myself "into it" and engaged (especially for technical articles) unless it is printed out and I am writing notes, or questions or highlighting.

My question is, I don't want to have to print everything out and waste paper, when I'm not feeling 100%. Is there an alternative for online content to take notes? Or is there any technique that you use to keep focused?

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4 Answers

I use Diigo for annotating my reading online. There are alternatives, too.

If I'm reading a digital book, and feeling particularly stagnant, I'll open up a text file and start freewriting my thoughts until I figure out what, exactly, I am doing. A variation of morning pages, you can call it.

Self-talk is good for the soul :) Writing can't ever be neglected for long.

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This is basically the answer I was looking for! Thanks and I will give Diigo a try! –  Dina Oct 1 '12 at 14:36
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I don't think there's any real technique for this. You just have to get comfortable. I found that my productivity soared simply by replacing the lights, changing my computer chair and placing my monitor at a comfortable angle. There was also this very large widescreen monitor in my university labs, which you could turn to portrait view, and it made reading on the monitor even easier than reading on paper.

You can't really learn highly technical things without jotting down notes. There's only so much you can keep on your mind, and small notes are necessary to keep yourself from juggling a lot of small details.

Academic papers are formatted to be read comfortably on paper. Tablets like iPad and Kindle actually do a good job of imitating paper and you should look into them.

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Specifically was talking about web pages, where sticky notes are not possible. Thanks though! –  Dina Oct 1 '12 at 14:37
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My approach to this is to use a screen-reader at the same time - reading in time with the speech synthesis (sometimes skipping ahead or going back) keeps me much more focus than I might otherwise be...

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You may try using an e-ink display for reading, possibly with note-taking functionality (see Sony models of ebook readers).

Other solutions could involve different visualizations for web pages: you could try using Pocket, Evernote Clearly or similar services.

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+1 on using an e-ink device like Kindle, Sony or others. That'd be as close to paper without printing. Up next you have tablets like the iPad and Samsung Galaxy, which work well too. –  Vic Goldfeld Sep 28 '12 at 19:06
    
+1 for Evernote Clearly. –  Muz Sep 29 '12 at 11:56
    
Evernote Clearly doesn't let me highlight and take notes, though. Am I wrong? –  Dina Oct 1 '12 at 16:09
    
You can highlight, but you can't take notes... for now... –  auino Oct 1 '12 at 17:55
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