A Second Brain

Information is in everything we do. We constantly consume, collect and manage it. But we also forget it or have no idea what to do with it.

Building a second brain, as Tiago Forte calls it, or a commonplace book, as it’s been called for centuries, is something we all can use to improve our thinking and our relationship with info.

It’s about striving to build a personal knowledge management system that is your extended mind. And while the author gives a way to do it, we want to point out that we all need to build a second brain that works for us. Choose an app that works for you and steps that work for you.

Technology enables us to find and collect a lot of data. But technology isn’t just a memory tool. We need to see it as a thinking tool and, ultimately, a creation tool. It’s there to help us improve our own thinking and create something new.

When you get in touch with new info/ideas, try to think about this

  • How to store info
  • How to concretize it
  • How to connect this new piece of info with existing ones and notice unusual associations
  • How to shape your own unique perspective from here

Tiago Forte suggests the CODE method to create your second brain, but as we said, taking what works for you, ditching the rest and even coming up with something uniquely yours is key. The first two steps of CODE are about gathering ideas and info. The latter 2 are about developing your own ideas or creating something new from the accumulated knowledge.

  • Capture

Get into the curator mode and capture what resonates. What you capture can be external, like books, articles, podcasts, meeting notes, images or courses. It can also be internal, like your stories, memories, realizations or random “shower thoughts.”

  • Organize

Organize your info with action in mind — how it fits into something you’re working on at the moment or that you want to work on in the future. Thinking in this direction usually leads to categories like projects, areas of your life, resources and archives.

  • Distill

Find the essence of info or an idea. For example, you don’t need to save the whole article, but just 2 core sentences.

  • Express

Your ultimate goal is to give life to new ideas and creations and even to share them with others.