Second Brain

So, “second brain” itself is a term used very widely by loads of people because it’s an intuitive way of describing a simple concept: recording a large volume of stuff that you want to be able to remember (or at least refer to) far into the future. It’s a “second brain” because it’s like a supplementary or backup brain to your real brain.

However, I started this page with what Tiago Forte came up with in this Building a Second Brain course. Drilled down to the essentials, this is what he said(external link) a Second Brain process should involve:

  1. Remember
    When you come across new information, you should make a note of it in a centralised location so you’ll be able to find it again.
    1. “Think like a curator”: make strategic decisions about what you will and won’t read about and keep records of
    2. “Organise your topic by project”: it’s mentally taxing to classify stuff by say, “web design” or “psychology” so instead, classify it by what project you’re relating it to. In this way it’ll also be easier to find it again – you’ll see it when going through your notes for that project.
    3. “Keep only what resonates”: basically, use your intuition to decide what to record, not some kind of analytical algorithm. This will make it less tiring to save stuff, too.
  2. Connect
    1. “Design notes for your future self”: explain acronyms, leave links to reference material, etc.
    2. “Summarize progressively, at different levels of detail”: Too much detail = too much reading later on, before you even know if it’s useful to later-you. Take multiple passes over recorded material, condensing it into ever-more laserpoint focused summaries.
    3. “Organize opportunistically, a little bit at a time”: It’s really inefficient to try perfectly organising your notes when you first record them, before you even know in what future contexts they’ll be useful again. Better is to do a little bit of reorganisation every time you go back to a note: add subtitles, links or highlight important points then, for example.
  3. Create
    This whole section is not really about the Second Brain itself, but what you should be using it for (organising project notes for projects).
    1. “Don’t just consume information passively – put it to use”
    2. “Create smaller, reusable units of work”
    3. “Share your work with the world”