by GGa, 2023-11-26T00:00:00.000+01:00
Capture knowledge assets, following your intuition and curiosity.
When sifting through information online – be it watching videos or scrolling through social media – see yourself as a curator of a personal library. Just as a lawyer maintains a case file or a marketer assembles a swipe book, capture anything you deem noteworthy. Nourish your mind by consciously choosing your “information diet” – that is, being mindful of the content you consume. Plant a “knowledge garden” by collecting valuable “knowledge assets,” including thought-provoking passages from articles or books, quotes from podcasts or audiobooks, links to interesting online content, voice memos, meeting notes, images that grab your attention or inspire you, highlights from conferences and courses you’ve attended, and so on. Collecting these external sources of information may inspire you to create stories, spark epiphanies, and help you recall memories, think deeply and daydream. You should file these thoughts and ideas in your Second Brain, too.
“Just as with the food we put into our bodies, it is our responsibility and right to choose our information diet. It’s up to us to decide what information is good for us, what we want more of and less of, and ultimately, what we do with it. You are what you consume, and that applies just as much to information as to nutrition.”
But how do you decide what information is relevant when you don’t know how, when or if you will use it again? You’ll need to rely on your intuition. Don’t save entire book chapters, articles or interview transcripts, for example. You’ll never reread them in their entirety, and they clutter up your notes. Use your note-taking app’s tools, read-later apps or web clippers to extract the richest, most relevant parts of the information and save them as a pithy note. Jot down the title of the content, the name of the author and the date it was published. Follow your curiosity, paying attention to what resonates with you. To direct your quest for knowledge, consider tackling a specific problem, which could be concrete (for example, “What can I do to make eating healthy easier?”) or more abstract (for instance, “How do I live less in the past, and more in the present?”) The information you capture should fit one or more of the following criteria: It inspires you; it’s useful; it has personal relevance; or it prompts you to see the world differently.
Organize information to support your flow, and make ideas actionable.
Organizing your knowledge assets can help you boost your creativity and productivity. Just as you would keep a neat physical workspace, you should also carefully organize your digital workspace, treating your Second Brain like a “mind cathedral.”
“One of the biggest temptations with organizing is to get too perfectionistic, treating the process of organizing as an end in itself.”
Organize your library into the PARA system ... (dive deeper by using the link and cpme back afterwards!)
Distill information to highlight the most valuable insights and information.
When you first come across a radical new idea, you may think you’ll remember it forever. But after a few weeks, the details start to fade from your memory. However, if you take notes, you preserve that knowledge, carrying it with you to a future time when it becomes relevant. If you had to communicate to a busy CEO, you’d compress your message into pithy take-aways. Imagine your future self as that busy CEO. Distill the information for yourself.
One technique is “progressive summarization”: Save a text to your read-later app. Highlight the most interesting and relevant passages from the article. Your app disregards the remainder but retains a link to the original full text should you want to refer to it in the future. Distill the information further by bolding the main points, buzzwords and key phrases within the note. Finally, highlight important passages in your notes app to illuminate the most important points. The highlighted passages will encapsulate the essence of the original text. If necessary, write a small, bullet-pointed executive summary at the top. When you’re not using a read-later app (for instance, when you jot down notes at a meeting), you can use the progressive summarization approach manually. Simply make note of the most salient points. As you reread them, bold and highlight the most important phrases and sentences.
“When you first capture them, your notes are like unfinished pieces of raw material. They require a bit more refinement to turn them into truly valuable knowledge assets, like a chemist distilling only the purest compound.”
You’re not trying to write down as much information as possible; instead, aim to cultivate the discernment to know what information to keep and what to discard, allowing the best ideas and insights to shine. Avoid three common mistakes: overhighlighting, highlighting indiscriminately without purpose, and overthinking your choices when highlighting. Simply use your intuition to choose what resonates.
Express your ideas, experiment on a small scale and solicit feedback.
Resist the temptation to wait until you know as much as possible before expressing or developing an idea. Getting started is more important than achieving perfection. Begin testing your ideas early and frequently, on a small scale. Solicit feedback from others about what works, as creativity is collaborative, and store this feedback in your Second Brain, using it as the starting point for your next iteration.
“Your Second Brain is the repository of things you are already creating and using anyway. All we are doing is adding a little bit of structure and intentionality to how we use them.”
Creative people break down large projects into numerous rough drafts – prototypes, pilots, betas or demos, depending on the industry – before making a final product. Start storing, organizing and reusing “intermediate packets” – such as distilled notes, outtakes that didn’t make the final cut on a previous project, work-in-process, past deliverables and documents others have created – in your Second Brain, to help you create rough drafts. Collect samples you can emulate. For example, if you were planning a conference, accumulate a folder containing sample agendas, checklists, invitations, and so on. Your knowledge assets function much like LEGO blocks: The more you have, the easier it is to execute your ideas.