Tiago Forte Quotes

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We call someone who is not in control of their mind insane. What do we call someone who is not in control of their attention, which is the gateway to the mind?
Tiago Forte (Design Your Work: Praxis Volume 1)
Everything not saved will be lost. —Nintendo “Quit Screen” message
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The three habits most important to your Second Brain include: Project Checklists: Ensure you start and finish your projects in a consistent way, making use of past work. Weekly and Monthly Reviews: Periodically review your work and life and decide if you want to change anything. Noticing Habits: Notice small opportunities to edit, highlight, or move notes to make them more discoverable for your future self.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Your job as a notetaker is to preserve the notes you’re taking on the things you discover in such a way that they can survive the journey into the future. That way your excitement and enthusiasm for your knowledge builds over time instead of fading away.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Anything you might want to accomplish—executing a project at work, getting a new job, learning a new skill, starting a business—requires finding and putting to use the right information. Your professional success and quality of life depend directly on your ability to manage information effectively. According to the New York Times, the average person’s daily consumption of information now adds up to a remarkable 34 gigabytes.1 A separate study cited by the Times estimates that we consume the equivalent of 174 full newspapers’ worth of content each and every day, five times higher than in 1986.2 Instead of empowering us, this deluge of information often overwhelms us. Information Overload has become Information Exhaustion, taxing our mental resources and leaving us constantly anxious that we’re forgetting something.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
For many people, their understanding of notetaking was formed in school. You were probably first told to write something down because it would be on the test. This implied that the minute the test was over, you would never reference those notes again.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
When you enter the professional world, the demands on your notetaking change completely. The entire approach to notetaking you learned in school is not only obsolete, it’s the exact opposite of what you need. In the professional world: It’s not at all clear what you should be taking notes on. No one tells you when or how your notes will be used. The “test” can come at any time and in any form. You’re allowed to reference your notes at any time, provided you took them in the first place. You are expected to take action on your notes, not just regurgitate them.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
In a 2004 study, Angelo Maravita and Atsushi Iriki discovered that when monkeys and humans consistently use a tool to extend their reach, such as using a rake to reach an object, certain neural networks in the brain change their “map” of the body to include the new tool. This fascinating finding reinforces the idea that external tools can and often do become a natural extension of our minds.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Join the PKM community. On Twitter, LinkedIn, Substack, Medium, or your platform(s) of choice, follow and subscribe to thought leaders and join communities who are creating content related to personal knowledge management (#PKM), #SecondBrain, #BASB, or #toolsforthought. Share your top takeaways from this book or anything else you’ve realized or discovered. There’s nothing more effective for adopting new behaviors than surrounding yourself with people who already have them.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
It is when you begin expressing your ideas and turning your knowledge into action that life really begins to change. You’ll read differently, becoming more focused on the parts most relevant to the argument you’re building. You’ll ask sharper questions, no longer satisfied with vague explanations or leaps in logic. You’ll naturally seek venues to show your work, since the feedback you receive will propel your thinking forward like nothing else. You’ll begin to act more deliberately in your career or business, thinking several steps beyond what you’re consuming to consider its ultimate potential. It’s not necessarily about becoming a professional artist, online influencer, or business mogul: it’s about taking ownership of your work, your ideas, and your potential to contribute in whatever arena you find yourself in. It doesn’t matter how impressive or grand your output is, or how many people see it. It could be just between your family or friends, among your colleagues and team, with your neighbors or schoolmates—what matters is that you are finding your voice and insisting that what you have to say matters. You have to value your ideas enough to share them. You have to believe that the smallest idea has the potential to change people’s lives. If you don’t believe that now, start with the smallest project you can think of to begin to prove to yourself that your ideas can make a difference.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Research from Microsoft shows that the average US employee spends 76 hours per year looking for misplaced notes, items, or files.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Those who learn how to leverage technology and master the flow of information through their lives will be empowered to accomplish anything they set their minds to.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Building a Second Brain
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The layers of Progressive Summarization give you multiple ways of interacting with your notes depending on the needs of the moment.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I’ve often noticed that many of the notes people take are of ideas they already know, already agree with, or could have guessed. We have a natural bias as humans to seek evidence that conrms what we already believe, a well-studied phenomenon known as “conrmation bias.” That isn’t what a Second Brain is for. The renowned information theorist Claude Shannon, whose discoveries paved the way for modern technology, had a simple denition for “information”: that which surprises you. If you’re not surprised, then you already knew it at some level, so why take note of it? Surprise is an excellent barometer for information that doesn’t t neatly into our existing understanding, which means it has the potential to change how we think.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Your Second Brain shouldn’t be just another way of conrming what you already know. We are already surrounded by algorithms that feed us only what we already believe and social networks that continually reinforce what we already think. Our ability to capture ideas from anywhere takes us in a dierent direction: By saving ideas that may contradict each other and don’t necessarily support what we already believe, we can train ourselves to take in information from dierent sources instead of immediately jumping to conclusions. By playing with ideas—bending and stretching and remixing them—we become less attached to the way they were originally presented and can borrow certain aspects or elements to use in our own work. If what you’re capturing doesn’t change your mind, then what’s the point?
Tiago Forte
If you can’t locate a piece of information quickly, in a format that’s convenient and ready to be put to use, then you might as well not have it at all. Our most scarce resource is time, which means we need to prioritize our ability to quickly rediscover the ideas that we already have in our Second Brain.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
There are certain notes in your Second Brain that are disproportionately valuable, that you will nd yourself returning to again and again. These are the cornerstones of your work on which everything else is built, but you can’t usually know which notes are cornerstones up front. You discover them by sharing your ideas with others, and seeing which ones resonate with them. It is by sharing our ideas with other people that we discover which ones represent our most valuable expertise.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
the inclination to amass information can become an end in itself. It is all too easy to default to collecting more and more content without regard to whether it is useful or beneficial to us. This is indiscriminate consumption of information, treating every meme and random post on social media as if it was just as important as the most profound piece of wisdom. It is driven by fear—the fear of missing out on some crucial fact, idea, or story that everyone is talking about. The paradox of hoarding is that no matter how much we collect and accumulate, it’s never enough. The lens of scarcity also tells us that the information we already have must not be very valuable, compelling us to keep searching externally for what’s missing inside.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I’ll show you how this simple habit is the first step in a system I’ve developed called Building a Second Brain, which draws on recent advancements in the field of PKM—or personal knowledge management.I In the same way that personal computers revolutionized our relationship with technology, personal finance changed how we manage our money, and personal productivity reshaped how we work, personal knowledge management helps us harness the full potential of what we know. While innovations in technology and a new generation of powerful apps have created new opportunities for our times, the lessons you will find within these pages are built on timeless and unchanging principles.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Move Quickly, Touch Lightly
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We extend beyond our limits, not by revving our brains like a machine or bulking them up like a muscle—but by strewing our world with rich materials, and by weaving them into our thoughts. —Annie Murphy Paul, author of The Extended Mind
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Every bit of energy we spend straining to recall things is energy not spent doing the thinking that only humans can do: inventing new things, crafting stories, recognizing patterns, following our intuition, collaborating with others, investigating new subjects, making plans, testing theories.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
It was jobs that required the ability to convey “not just information but a particular interpretation of information.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
This is why it’s so important to separate capture and organize into two distinct steps: “keeping what resonates” in the moment is a separate decision from deciding to save something for the long term.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Once you’ve captured a batch of notes and it’s time to organize them, PARA comes into play. The four main categories are ordered by actionability to make the decision of where to put notes as easy as possible: Projects are most actionable because you’re working on them right now and with a concrete deadline in mind. Areas have a longer time horizon and are less immediately actionable. Resources may become actionable depending on the situation. Archives remain inactive unless they are needed.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
In which project will this be most useful? If none: In which area will this be most useful? If none: Which resource does this belong to? If none: Place in archives.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
In other words, you are always trying to place a note or file not only where it will be useful, but where it will be useful the soonest.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
When it comes to our personal knowledge, there is no such assigned spot. We are organizing for actionability, and “what’s actionable” is always changing. Sometimes we can receive one text message or email and the entire landscape of our day changes. Because our priorities can change at a moment’s notice, we have to minimize the time we spend filing, labeling, tagging, and maintaining our digital notes. We can’t run the risk of all that effort going to waste.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Instead of organizing ideas according to where they come from, I recommend organizing them according to where they are going—specifically, the outcomes that they can help you realize.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
PARA isn’t a filing system; it’s a production system. It’s no use trying to find the “perfect place” where a note or file belongs. There isn’t one. The whole system is constantly shifting and changing in sync with your constantly changing life.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Where Do I Put This?—How to Decide Where to Save Individual Notes Setting up folders is relatively easy. The harder question that strikes fear into the heart of every organizer is “Where do I put this?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
These four categories—Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archives—make up the four categories of PARA. We’ll explore each of them soon.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
in any piece of content, the value is not evenly distributed.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
In the professional world: It’s not at all clear what you should be taking notes on. No one tells you when or how your notes will be used. The “test” can come at any time and in any form. You’re allowed to reference your notes at any time, provided you took them in the first place. You are expected to take action on your notes, not just regurgitate them.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capture Criteria #2: Is It Useful? Carpenters are known for keeping odds and ends in a corner of their workshop—a variety of nails and washers, scraps of lumber cut off from larger planks, and random bits of metal and wood. It costs nothing to keep these “offcuts” around, and surprisingly often they end up being the crucial missing piece in a future project.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capture Criteria #3: Is It Personal? One of the most valuable kinds of information to keep is personal information—your own thoughts, reflections, memories, and mementos. Like the age-old practice of journaling or keeping a diary, we can use notetaking to document our lives and better understand how we became who we are.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Surprise is an excellent barometer for information that doesn’t fit neatly into our existing understanding, which means it has the potential to change how we think.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Feynman revealed his strategy in an interview4: You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, “How did he do it? He must be a genius!
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
This is why it’s so important to take on a Curator’s Perspective—that we are the judges, editors, and interpreters of the information we choose to let into our lives.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capture Criteria #1: Does It Inspire Me? Inspiration is one of the most rare and precious experiences in life. It is the essential fuel for doing your best work, yet it’s impossible to call up inspiration on demand. You can Google the answer to a question, but you can’t Google a feeling.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capture Criteria #4: Is It Surprising? I’ve often noticed that many of the notes people take are of ideas they already know, already agree with, or could have guessed. We have a natural bias as humans to seek evidence that confirms what we already believe, a well-studied phenomenon known as “confirmation bias.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Think of yourself not just as a taker of notes, but as a giver of notes—you are giving your future self the gift of knowledge that is easy to find and understand.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The most common options include: Ebook apps, which often allow you to export your highlights or annotations all at once. Read later apps that allow you to bookmark content you find online for later reading (or in the case of podcasts or videos, listening or watching). Basic notes apps that often come preinstalled on mobile devices and are designed for easily capturing short snippets of text. Social media apps, which usually allow you to “favorite” content and export it to a notes app. Web clippers, which allow you to save parts of web pages (often included as a built-in feature of notes apps). Audio/voice transcription apps that create text transcripts from spoken words. Other third-party services, integrations, and plug-ins that automate the process of exporting content from one app to another.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Beyond Your Notetaking App: Choosing Capture Tools Now that you know what kinds of material to save in your Second Brain, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty: How does capturing work exactly?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The solution is to keep only what resonates in a trusted place that you control, and to leave the rest aside.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The best way to organize your notes is to organize for action, according to the active projects you are working on right now. Consider new information in terms of its utility, asking, “How is this going to help me move forward one of my current projects?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Every time you take a note, ask yourself, “How can I make this as useful as possible for my future self?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
should
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I’ll show you how this simple habit is the first step in a system I’ve developed called Building a Second Brain, which draws on recent advancements in the field of PKM—or personal knowledge management.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The Building a Second Brain system will teach you how to: Find anything you’ve learned, touched, or thought about in the past within seconds. Organize your knowledge and use it to move your projects and goals forward more consistently. Save your best thinking so you don’t have to do it again. Connect ideas and notice patterns across different areas of your life so you know how to live better. Adopt a reliable system that helps you share your work more confidently and with more ease. Turn work “off” and relax, knowing you have a trusted system keeping track of all the details. Spend less time looking for things, and more time doing the best, most creative work you are capable of.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I’ve come to believe that personal knowledge management is one of the most fundamental challenges—as well as one of the most incredible opportunities—in the world today.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them. —David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We spend countless hours reading, listening to, and watching other people’s opinions about what we should do, how we should think, and how we should live, but make comparatively little effort applying that knowledge and making it our own. So much of the time we are “information hoarders,” stockpiling endless amounts of well-intentioned content that only ends up increasing our anxiety. This book is dedicated to changing that. You see, all the content you consume online and through all the different kinds of media you have at your disposal isn’t useless. It’s incredibly important and valuable. The only problem is that you’re often consuming it at the wrong time.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
From Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, and Apple Notes to Notion and Evernote, digital notes apps have four powerful characteristics that make them ideal for building a Second Brain. They are: Multimedia: Just like a paper notebook might contain drawings and sketches, quotes and ideas, and even a pasted photo or Post-it, a notes app can store a wide variety of different kinds of content in one place, so you never need to wonder where to put something. Informal: Notes are inherently messy, so there’s no need for perfect spelling or polished presentation. This makes it as easy and frictionless as possible to jot things down as soon as they occur to you, which is essential to allow nascent ideas to grow. Open-ended: Taking notes is a continuous process that never really ends, and you don’t always know where it might lead. Unlike more specialized kinds of software that are designed to produce a specific kind of output (such as slide decks, spreadsheets, graphics, or videos), notes are ideal for free-form exploration before you have a goal in mind. Action-oriented: Unlike a library or research database, personal notes don’t need to be comprehensive or precise. They are designed to help you quickly capture stray thoughts so you can remain focused on the task at hand.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
This digital commonplace book is what I call a Second Brain. Think of it as the combination of a study notebook, a personal journal, and a sketchbook for new ideas. It is a multipurpose tool that can adapt to your changing needs over time.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
More than half the workforce today can be considered “knowledge workers”—professionals for whom knowledge is their most valuable asset, and who spend a majority of their time managing large amounts of information
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
On Amazon Kindle, you can simply drag your finger across a sentence or paragraph you like to add a highlight. Then use the share menu to export all your highlights from the entire book all at once straight to your digital notes. You can also add comments right alongside the text as you read, which will help you remember what you found interesting about a passage.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The moment you first encounter an idea is the worst time to decide what it means. You need to set it aside and gain some objectivity.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capturing excerpts from online articles or web pages:
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capturing quotes from podcasts:
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capturing voice memos:
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capturing excerpts from emails:
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capturing content from other apps:
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capturing passages from ebooks:
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capturing parts of YouTube videos:
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
What if your future self was just as important as these VIPs? How could you communicate with them through time in the most efficient, concise way?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
This tendency is known as recency bias.4 We tend to favor the ideas, solutions, and influences that occurred to us most recently, regardless of whether they are the best ones.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day. —Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Information becomes knowledge—personal, embodied, verified—only when we put it to use.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
This is why I recommend you shift as much of your time and effort as possible from consuming to creating.V We all naturally have a desire to create—to bring to life something good, true, or beautiful.9 It’s a part of our essential nature. Creating new things is not only one of the most
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Other synonyms for expression include publish, speak, present, perform, produce, write, draw, interpret, critique, or translate.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
CODE”—Capture; Organize; Distill; Express.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The best way to organize your notes is to organize for action, according to the active projects you are working on right now. Consider new information in terms of its utility, asking, “How is this going to help me move forward one of my current projects?” Surprisingly, when you focus on taking action, the vast amount of information out there gets radically streamlined and simplified. There are relatively few things that are actionable and relevant at any given time, which means you have a clear filter for ignoring everything else. Organizing for action gives you a sense of tremendous clarity, because you know that everything you’re keeping actually has a purpose. You know that it aligns with your goals and priorities. Instead of organizing being an obstacle to your productivity, it becomes a contributor to it.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
How can I make this as useful as possible for my future self?” That question will lead you to annotate the words and phrases that explain why you saved a note, what you were thinking, and what exactly caught your attention.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
A common challenge for people who are curious and love to learn is that we can fall into the habit of continuously force-feeding ourselves more and more information, but never actually take the next step and apply it. We compile tons of research, but never put forward our own proposal.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
shift as much of your time and effort as possible from consuming to creating.V We all naturally have a desire to create—to bring to life something good, true, or beautiful.9 It’s a part of our essential nature. Creating new things is not only one of the most deeply fulfilling things we can do, it can also have a positive impact on others—by inspiring, entertaining, or educating them.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Like a scientist capturing only the rarest butterflies to take back to the lab, our goal should be to “capture” only the ideas and insights we think are truly noteworthy.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The solution is to keep only what resonates in a trusted place that you control, and to leave the rest aside. When something resonates, it moves you on an intuitive level. Often, the ideas that resonate are the ones that are most unusual, counterintuitive, interesting, or potentially useful. Don’t make it an analytical decision, and don’t worry about why exactly it resonates—just look inside for a feeling of pleasure, curiosity, wonder, or excitement, and let that be your signal for when it’s time to capture a passage, an image, a quote, or a fact.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The moment you first encounter an idea is the worst time to decide what it means. You need to set it aside and gain some objectivity. With a Second Brain as a shield against the media storm, we no longer have to react to each idea immediately, or risk losing it forever. We can set things aside and get to them later when we are calmer and more grounded. We can take our time slowly absorbing new information and integrating it into our thinking, free of the pressing demands of the moment. I’m always amazed that when I revisit the items I’ve previously saved to read later, many of them that seemed so important at the time are clearly trivial and unneeded. Notetaking is the easiest and simplest way of externalizing our thinking. It requires no special skill, is private by default, and can be performed anytime and anywhere. Once our thoughts are outside our head, we can examine them, play with them, and make them better. It’s like a shortcut to realizing the full potential of the thoughts flowing through our minds.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I want to give you an open question that will help guide you as you embark on this journey: What would capturing ideas look like if it was easy? Think about what you would want to capture more of (or less of). How would that feel? What kinds of content are already familiar enough that it would be easy to begin saving them now? What would capturing look like today or this week? On average I capture just two notes per day—what are two ideas, insights, observations, perspectives, or lessons you’ve encountered today that you could write down right now?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Even a project as open-ended as this one started the same way as all the others, with her goals: “I believe in starting each project with a stated goal. Sometimes the goal is nothing more than a personal mantra such as ‘keep it simple’ or ‘something perfect’ or ‘economy’ to remind me of what I was thinking at the beginning if and when I lose my way. I write it down on a slip of paper and it’s the first thing that goes into the box.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
After that, every bit of research and every idea potentially relevant to the project went into Tharp’s box. Recordings of Billy Joel’s music videos, live performances, lectures, photographs, news clippings, song lists, and notes about those songs. She
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Here is what some of my areas look like: Each of these folders contains the notes relevant to each of those ongoing areas of my life. Areas
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Under resources I have folders for each of the topics I’m interested in. This information isn’t currently actionable, so I don’t want it cluttering up my projects, but it will be ready and waiting if I ever need it. The archives contain any folder from the previous three categories that is no longer active. I want them completely out of sight and off my mind,
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Most notes apps have an “inbox” or “daily notes” section where new notes you’ve captured are saved until you can revisit them and decide where they belong. Think of it as a waiting area where new ideas live until you are ready to digest them into your Second Brain.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
This order gives us a convenient checklist for deciding where to put a note, starting at the top of the list and moving down: In which project will this be most useful? If none: In which area will this be most useful? If none: Which resource does this belong to? If none: Place in archives.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I refined, simplified, and tested this action-based approach with thousands of students and followers. I eventually named this organizing system PARA,I which stands for the four main categories of information in our lives: Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archives. These four categories are universal, encompassing any kind of information, from any source, in any format, for any purpose.II PARA can handle it all, regardless of your profession or field, for one reason: it organizes information based on how actionable it is, not what kind of information it is.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
As knowledge workers we spend many hours every day within digital environments—our computers, smartphones, and the web. Unless you take control of those virtual spaces and shape them to support the kinds of thinking you want to do, every minute spent there will feel taxing and distracting
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Examples of projects could include: Projects at work: Complete web-page design; Create slide deck for conference; Develop project schedule; Plan recruitment drive. Personal projects: Finish Spanish language course; Plan vacation; Buy new living room furniture; Find local volunteer opportunity. Side projects: Publish blog post; Launch crowdfunding campaign; Research best podcast microphone; Complete online course. If you are not already framing your work in terms of specific, concrete projects, making this shift will give you a powerful jump start to your productivity.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Areas: What I’m Committed to Over Time As important as projects are, not everything is a project. For example, the area of our lives called “Finances” doesn’t have a definite end date.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The box gave Tharp a way to put projects on hold and revisit them later: “The box makes me feel connected to a project… I feel this even when I’ve back-burnered a project: I may have put the box away on a shelf, but I know it’s there. The project name on the box in bold black lettering is a constant reminder that I had an idea once and may come back to it very soon.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
There’s one final benefit to the box: It gives you a chance to look back. A lot of people don’t appreciate this. When they’re done with a project, they’re relieved. They’re ready for a break and then they want to move forward to the next idea. The box gives you the opportunity to reflect on your performance. Dig down through the boxes archaeologically and you’ll see a project’s beginnings. This can be instructive. How did you do? Did you get to your goal? Did you improve on it? Did it change along the way? Could you have done it all more efficiently?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Twyla Tharp’s box reveals the true value of a simple container: it is easy to use, easy to understand, easy to create, and easy to maintain. It can be moved from place to place without losing its contents. A container requires no effort to identify, to share with others, and to put in storage when it’s no longer needed. We don’t need complex, sophisticated systems to be able to produce complex, sophisticated works.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Projects: Short-term efforts in your work or life that you’re working on now. Areas: Long-term responsibilities you want to manage over time. Resources: Topics or interests that may be useful in the future. Archives: Inactive items from the other three categories.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Projects have a couple of features that make them an ideal way to organize modern work. First, they have a beginning and an end; they take place during a specific period of time and then they finish. Second, they have a specific, clear outcome that needs to happen in order for them to be checked off as complete, such as “finalize,” “green-light,” “launch,” or “publish.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Archives: Things I’ve Completed or Put on Hold Finally, we have our archives. This includes any item from the previous three categories that is no longer active.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Here’s an example of what the folders in my notes app look like with PARA:
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Resources: Things I Want to Reference in the Future The third category of information that we want to keep is resources. This is basically a catchall for anything that doesn’t belong to a project or an area and could include any topic you’re interested in gathering information about.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
You can also think of them as “research” or “reference materials.” They are trends you are keeping track of, ideas related to your job or industry, hobbies and side interests, and things you’re merely curious about. These folders are like the class notebooks you probably kept in school: one for biology, another for history, another for math.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Practice capturing new notes, organizing them into folders, and moving them from one folder to another. Each time you finish a project, move its folder wholesale to the archives, and each time you start a new project, look through your archives to see if any past project might have assets you can reuse.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
He started by reading The Godfather novel and capturing the parts that resonated with him in a notebook—his own version of Twyla Tharp’s box. But his prompt book went beyond storage: it was the starting point for a process of revisiting and refining his sources to turn them into something new. The book was made from a three-ring binder, into which he would cut and paste pages from the novel on which the film was based. It was designed to last, with reinforced grommets to ensure the pages wouldn’t tear even after many turnings. There he could add the notes and directions that would later be used to plan the screenplay and production design of the film.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
He broke down each scene according to five key criteria: a synopsis (or summary) of the scene; the historical context; the imagery and tone for the “look and feel” of a scene; the core intention; and any potential pitfalls to avoid. In his own words, “I endeavored to distill the essence of each scene into a sentence, expressing in a few words what the point of the scene was.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
we can systematically gather building blocks from our reading and research that ultimately make the final product richer, more interesting, and more impactful.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
There is a key idea that catches our attention in the moment. We feel enraptured and obsessed with it. It’s difficult to imagine ever forgetting the new idea. It’s changed our lives forever! But after a few hours or days or weeks, it starts to fade from our memory. Soon our recollection of that exciting new idea is nothing but a pale shadow of something we once knew, that once intrigued us. Your job as a notetaker is to preserve the notes you’re taking on the things you discover in such a way that they can survive the journey into the future. That way your excitement and enthusiasm for your knowledge builds over time instead of fading away.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
move quickly and touch lightly” instead. To look for the path of least resistance and make progress in short steps. I want to give the same advice to you: don’t make organizing your Second Brain into yet another heavy obligation. Ask yourself: “What is the smallest, easiest step I can take that moves me in the right direction?” When it comes to PARA, that step is generally to create folders for each of your active projects in your notes app and begin to fill them with the content related to those projects. Once you have a home for something, you tend to find more of it. Start by asking yourself, “What projects am I currently committed to moving forward?” and then create a new project folder for each one. Here
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We expect to find a strict set of rules that tells us exactly where each item goes, like the precise call numbers for books in a library. When it comes to our personal knowledge, there is no such assigned spot. We are organizing for actionability, and “what’s actionable” is always changing. Sometimes we can receive one text message or email and the entire landscape of our day changes. Because
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Using PARA is not just about creating a bunch of folders to put things in. It is about identifying the structure of your work and life—what you are committed to, what you want to change, and where you want to go.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I decided to take a different approach: I took all the files they’d migrated over and moved them all to a new folder titled “Archive” plus the date (for example, “Archive 5-2-21”). There was always a moment of fear and hesitation at first. They didn’t want anything to get lost, but very quickly, as they saw that they would always be able to access anything from the past, I watched them come alive with a renewed sense of hope and possibility. They had repeatedly postponed their creative ambitions to some far-off, mythical time when somehow everything would be perfectly in order.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Instead of trying to optimize your mind so that it can manage every tiny detail of your life, it’s time to fire your biological brain from that job and give it a new one: as the CEO of your life, orchestrating and managing the process of turning information into results. We’re asking your biological brain to hand over the job of remembering to an external system, and by doing so, freeing it to absorb and integrate new knowledge in more creative ways.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We’re not done yet! For those notes that are especially long, interesting, or valuable, it is sometimes worth adding a third layer of highlighting. I advise using the “highlighting” feature offered by most notes apps, which paints passages in bright yellow just like
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
For only the very few sources that are truly unique and valuable, I’ll add an “executive summary” at the top of the note with a few bullet points summarizing the article in my own words. The best sign that a fourth layer is needed is when I find myself visiting a note again and again, clearly indicating that it is one of the cornerstones of my thinking.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
To enhance the discoverability of this note, I need to add a second layer of distillation. I usually do this when I have free time during breaks or on evenings or weekends, when I come across the note while working on other projects, or when I don’t have the energy for more focused work. All I have to do is bold the main points within the note. This could include keywords that provide hints of what this text is about, phrases that capture what the original author was trying to say, or sentences that especially resonated with me even if I can’t explain why.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
3. Dial Down the Scope: Ship Something Small and Concrete
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
If we overlay the four steps of CODE onto the model of divergence and convergence, we arrive at a powerful template for the creative process in our time. The first two steps of CODE, Capture and Organize, make up divergence. They are about gathering seeds of imagination carried on the wind and storing them in a secure place. This is where you research, explore, and add ideas. The final two steps, Distill and Express, are about convergence. They help us shut the door to new ideas and begin constructing something new out of the knowledge building blocks we’ve assembled.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Write out your intention for the next work session: Set an intention for what you plan on tackling next, the problem you intend to solve, or a certain milestone you want to reach.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
So many of us share the feeling that we are surrounded by knowledge, yet starving for wisdom.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
It’s clear that we need food and water to survive. What may not be so clear is that we also need information to live: to understand and adapt to our environment; to maintain relationships and cooperate with others; and to make wise decisions that further our interests.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Maybe you are already a diligent organizer, but you’ve fallen into a habit of “digital hoarding” that doesn’t end up enriching your life.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Divergence and convergence are not a linear path, but a loop: once you complete one round of convergence, you can take what you’ve learned right back into a new cycle of divergence. Keep alternating back and forth, making iterations each time until it’s something you can consider “done” or “complete” and share more widely.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Clear my email inbox. Check my calendar. Clear my computer desktop. Clear my notes inbox. Choose my tasks for the week.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Here are some other items you can include on your Project Completion Checklist. I encourage you to personalize it for your own needs: Answer postmortem questions: What did you learn? What did you do well? What could you have done better? What can you improve for next time? Communicate with stakeholders: Notify your manager, colleagues, clients, customers, shareholders, contractors, etc., that the project is complete and what the outcomes were. Evaluate success criteria: Were the objectives of the project achieved? Why or why not? What was the return on investment? Officially close out the project and celebrate: Send any last emails, invoices, receipts, feedback forms, or documents, and celebrate your accomplishments with your team or collaborators so you receive the feeling of fulfillment for all the effort you put in.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Mark project as complete in task manager or project management app. Cross out the associated project goal and move to “Completed” section. Review Intermediate Packets and move them to other folders. Move project to archives across all platforms. If project is becoming inactive: add a current status note to the project folder before archiving.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
A Monthly Review Template: Reflect for Clarity and Control While the Weekly Review is grounded and practical, I recommend doing a Monthly Review that is a bit more reflective and holistic. It’s a chance to evaluate the big picture and consider more fundamental changes to your goals, priorities, and systems that you might not have the chance to think about in the busyness of the day-to-day. Here’s mine: Review and update my goals. Review and update my project list. Review my areas of responsibility. Review someday/maybe tasks. Reprioritize tasks.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We know from neuroscientific research that “emotions organize—rather than disrupt—rational thinking.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
It is in the power of remembering that the self’s ultimate freedom consists. I am free because I remember. —Abhinavagupta, tenth-century Kashmiri philosopher and mystic
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Capturing passages from ebooks: Most ebook apps make it very easy to highlight passages as you read. On Amazon Kindle, you can simply drag your finger across a sentence or paragraph you like to add a highlight.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
What do I already know about this project? What don’t I know that I need to find out? What is my goal or intention? Who can I talk to who might provide insights? What can I read or listen to for relevant ideas?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I run a series of searches for terms related to the new project, scanning the results and quickly jumping into any note that seems relevant. Progressive Summarization helps here too, enabling me to zoom into and out of notes without having to absorb their full contents.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Create an outline of collected notes and plan the project. Finally, it’s time to pull together the material I’ve gathered and create an outline (an Archipelago of Ideas) for the project. My goal is to end up not just with a loose collection of ideas. It is to formulate a logical progression of steps that make it clear what I should do next.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
by the time you sit down to make progress on something, all the work to gather and organize the source material needs to already be done. We can’t expect ourselves to instantly come up with brilliant ideas on demand. I learned that innovation and problem-solving depend on a routine that systematically brings interesting ideas to the surface of our awareness.I
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Through the simple acts of capturing ideas, organizing them into groups, distilling the best parts, and assembling them together to create value for others, we are practicing the basic moves of knowledge work in such a way that we can improve on them over time.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Chefs have a particular system for accomplishing this daunting feat. It’s called mise en place, a culinary philosophy used in restaurants around the world. Developed in France starting in the late 1800s, mise en place is a step-by-step process for producing high-quality food efficiently. Chefs can never afford to stop the whole kitchen just so they can clean up. They learn to keep their workspace clean and organized in the flow of the meals they are preparing.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Progressive Summarization is not a method for remembering as much as possible—it is a method for forgetting as much as possible. As you distill your ideas, they naturally improve, because when you drop the merely good parts, the great parts can shine more brightly.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The technique is simple: you highlight the main points of a note, and then highlight the main points of those highlights, and so on, distilling the essence of a note in several “layers.” Each of these layers uses a different kind of formatting so you can easily tell them apart.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Distillation is at the very heart of all effective communication. The more important it is that your audience hear and take action on your message, the more distilled that message needs to be. The details and subtleties can come later once you have your audience’s attention.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
In the same way that personal computers revolutionized our relationship with technology, personal finance changed how we manage our money, and personal productivity reshaped how we work, personal knowledge management helps us harness the full potential of what we know.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
your Second Brain is a private knowledge collection designed to serve a lifetime of learning and growth, not just a single use case.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
More than half the workforce today can be considered “knowledge workers”—professionals for whom knowledge is their most valuable asset, and who spend a majority of their time managing large amounts of information.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
For modern, professional notetaking, a note is a “knowledge building block”—a discrete unit of information interpreted through your unique perspective and stored outside your head.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Instantaneous access to the world’s knowledge through the Internet was supposed to educate and inform us, but instead it has created a society-wide poverty of attention.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Research from Microsoft shows that the average US employee spends 76 hours per year looking for misplaced notes, items, or files.3 And a report from the International Data Corporation found that 26 percent of a typical knowledge worker’s day is spent looking for and consolidating information spread across a variety of systems.4 Incredibly, only 56 percent of the time are they able to find the information required to do their jobs.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Popularized in a previous period of information overload, the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the commonplace book was more than a diary or journal of personal reflections. It was a learning tool that the educated class used to understand a rapidly changing world and their place in it.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We have the chance to turn that historical practice into something far more flexible and convenient.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
It’s not about having the perfect tools—it’s about having a reliable set of tools you can depend on, knowing you can always change them later.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The first way that people tend to use their Second Brain is as a memory aid.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The second way that people use their Second Brain is to connect ideas together.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Eventually, the third and final way that people use their Second Brain is for creating new things.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
To guide you in the process of creating your own Second Brain, I’ve developed a simple, intuitive four-part method called “CODE”—Capture; Organize; Distill; Express.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Every time you take a note, ask yourself, “How can I make this as useful as possible for my future self?” That question will lead you to annotate the words and phrases that explain why you saved a note, what you were thinking, and what exactly caught your attention.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Digital notes aren’t physical, but they are visual. They turn vague concepts into tangible entities that can be observed, rearranged, edited, and combined together.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
While your Second Brain is made up of all the tools you use to interact with information, including a to-do list, a calendar, email, and reading apps, for example, there is one category of software I recommend as the centerpiece of your Second Brain: a digital notetaking app.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Like the LEGO blocks you may have played with as a kid, they can be rapidly searched, retrieved, moved around, assembled, and reassembled into new forms without requiring you to invent anything from scratch.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
So much of our intellectual output—from brainstorms to photos to planning to research—all too often is left stranded on hard drives or lost somewhere in the cloud.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I believe that we have reached an inflection point, where technology has become sufficiently advanced and user-friendly that we can integrate it with our biological brains.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The time has come for us to realize the vision of technology’s early pioneers—that everyone should have an extended mind not just to remember more and be more productive, but to lead more fulfilling lives.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
There are four essential capabilities that we can rely on a Second Brain to perform for us: Making our ideas concrete. Revealing new associations between ideas. Incubating our ideas over time. Sharpening our unique perspectives.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
This is why I recommend you shift as much of your time and effort as possible from consuming to creating.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
All you need is a slightly more intentional, more deliberate way to manage that information, plus a few practical habits to ensure it gets done.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Innovation and impact don’t happen by accident or chance. Creativity depends on a creative process.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
In Chapter 2, we looked at the history of commonplace books, kept by intellectuals and writers in previous centuries. For them, the purpose of information was clear: to inform their writing, speaking, and conversation. Knowing how they were going to be putting ideas to use gave them a powerful lens for seeing which ones were worth the trouble of writing down.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Your notes will be useless if you can’t decipher them in the future, or if they’re so long that you don’t even try. Think of yourself not just as a taker of notes, but as a giver of notes—you are giving your future self the gift of knowledge that is easy to find and understand.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
As your needs change, give yourself the freedom to discard or take on whichever parts serve you. This isn’t a “take it or leave it” ideology where you must accept all of it or none of it. If any part doesn’t make sense or doesn’t resonate with you, put it aside. Mix and match the tools and techniques you’ve learned in this book to suit your needs. This is how you ensure your Second Brain remains a lifelong companion through the seasons of your life.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
If I could leave you with one last bit of advice, it is to chase what excites you.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Run after your obsessions with everything you have. Just be sure to take notes along the way.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Alternatively, depending on the capabilities of your notes app, you can also tag or link any relevant notes with the project, so you don’t have to move them from their original location. The important thing isn’t where a note is located, but whether you can reference it quickly while staying focused on the project at hand.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Our time and attention are scarce, and it’s time we treated the things we invest in—reports, deliverables, plans, pieces of writing, graphics, slides—as knowledge assets that can be reused instead of reproducing them from scratch. Reusing Intermediate Packets of work frees up our attention for higher-order, more creative thinking. Thinking small is the best way to elevate your horizons and expand your ambitions.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The most common misconception about organizing I see when I’m working with clients is the belief that organizing requires a heavy lift. They seem to believe that if they could just block off their calendar and get a few days free of pressing commitments, then they’d finally be able to curb the clutter and clear their head.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We should avoid doing a lot of heavy lifting up front, not only because it takes up precious time and energy, but because it locks us into a course of action that might not end up being right.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
When you make your digital notes a working environment, not just a storage environment, you end up spending a lot more time there. When you spend more time there, you’ll inevitably notice many more small opportunities for change than you expect. Over time, this will gradually produce an environment far more suited to your real needs than anything you could have planned up front.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The truth is, any system that must be perfect to be reliable is deeply flawed. A perfect system you don’t use because it’s too complicated and error prone isn’t a perfect system—it’s a fragile system that will fall apart as soon as you turn your attention elsewhere.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We have to remember that we are not building an encyclopedia of immaculately organized knowledge. We are building a working system. Both in the sense that it must work, and in the sense that it is a regular part of our everyday lives. For that reason, you should prefer a system that is imperfect, but that continues to be useful in the real conditions of your life.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Divergence and convergence are not a linear path, but a loop: once you complete one round of convergence, you can take what you’ve learned right back into a new cycle of divergence.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I first learned about the model of divergence and convergence from Design Thinking, an approach to creative problem-solving that emerged out of the Stanford Design School and was further popularized by the innovation consultancy IDEO starting in the 1980s and 1990s.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
One of my favorite rules of thumb is to “Only start projects that are already 80 percent done.” That might seem like a paradox, but committing to finish projects only when I’ve already done most of the work to capture, organize, and distill the relevant material means I never run the risk of starting something I can’t finish.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity, so you can allocate your attention to other tasks… It’s only by making the fundamentals of life easier that you can create the mental space needed for free thinking and creativity. —James Clear, author of Atomic Habits
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The curse of computer scientists is our blessing, because this tacit knowledge represents the final frontier on which humans outperform machines. The jobs and endeavors that rely on tacit knowledge will be the last ones to be automated.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
You are under no obligation to help others. Sometimes it’s all you can do to take care of yourself. Still, I’ve noticed time and again a phenomenon that happens as people collect more and more knowledge in their Second Brain. That inner desire to serve slowly comes to the surface. Faced with the evidence of everything they already know, suddenly there’s no longer any reason to wait.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The purpose of knowledge is to be shared. What’s the point of knowing something if it doesn’t positively impact anyone, not even yourself?
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The practice of building a Second Brain is more than the sum of capturing facts, theories, and the opinions of others. At its core, it is about cultivating self-awareness and self-knowledge.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
This problem—known as “self-ignorance”—has been a major roadblock in the development of artificial intelligence and other computer systems. Because we cannot describe how we know what we know, it can’t be programmed into software.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention . . .
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
I. Many people who follow the CODE methodology continue to use paper for their notes. Many even find that they take more notes on paper once they have a way of capturing those notes digitally and saving them in a secure place. It’s not black-or-white. It’s about choosing the right tool for the job. This book is focused primarily on the potential of digital notes.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Twyla Tharp is one of the most celebrated, inventive dance choreographers in modern times. Her body of work is made up of
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Kindle, you can simply drag your finger across a sentence or paragraph you like to add a highlight. Then use the
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
We spend countless hours reading, listening to, and watching other people’s opinions about what we should do, how we should think, and how we should live, but make comparatively little effort applying that knowledge and making it our own. So much of the time we are “information hoarders,” stockpiling endless amounts of well-intentioned content that only ends up increasing our anxiety.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
In other words, we go to work five days per week, but spend more than one of those days on average just looking for the information we need to do our work.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Projects: Short-term efforts in your work or life that you’re working on now. Areas: Long-term responsibilities you want to manage over time. Resources: Topics or interests that may be useful in the future.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Areas: What I’m Committed to Over Time
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
To be able to make use of information we value, we need a way to package it up and send it through time to our future self.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Instantaneous access to the world’s knowledge through the Internet was supposed to educate and inform us, but instead it has created a society-wide poverty of attention.I
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Research from Microsoft shows that the average US employee spends 76 hours per year looking for misplaced notes, items, or files.3 And a report from the International Data Corporation found that 26 percent of a typical knowledge worker’s day is spent looking for and consolidating information spread across a variety of systems.4 Incredibly, only 56 percent of the time are they able to find the information required to do their jobs. In other words, we go to work five days per week, but spend more than one of those days on average just looking for the information we need to do our work. Half the time, we don’t even succeed in doing that.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Every bit of energy we spend straining to recall things is energy not spent doing the thinking that only humans can do: inventing new things, crafting stories, recognizing patterns, following our intuition, collaborating with others, investigating new subjects, making plans, testing theories. Every minute we spend trying to mentally juggle all the stuff we have to do leaves less time for more meaningful pursuits like cooking, self-care, hobbies, resting, and spending time with loved ones.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Beyond Your Notetaking App: Choosing Capture Tools
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
One of the most cited psychology papers of the 1990s found that “translating emotional events into words leads to profound social, psychological, and neural changes.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
So much of the time we are “information hoarders,” stockpiling endless amounts of well-intentioned content that only ends up increasing our anxiety.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Information Overload has become Information Exhaustion, taxing our mental resources and leaving us constantly anxious that we’re forgetting something.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
The ability to intentionally and strategically allocate our attention is a competitive advantage in a distracted world. We have to jealously guard it like a valuable treasure.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
A perfect system you don’t use because it’s too complicated and error prone isn’t a perfect system—it’s a fragile system that will fall apart as soon as you turn your attention elsewhere.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)
Every time you take a note, ask yourself, “How can I make this as useful as possible for my future self?” That question will lead you to annotate the words and phrases that explain why you saved a note, what you were thinking, and what exactly caught your attention. Your notes will be useless if you can’t decipher them in the future, or if they’re so long that you don’t even try. Think of yourself not just as a taker of notes, but as a giver of notes—you are giving your future self the gift of knowledge that is easy to find and understand.
Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential)