🌱 (seedling) | Literature note |

Capture from Version 2.0 of the self paced course

Notes taken from the version 2.0 of Tiago Forte’s self directed course on Building a Second Brain. These notes extend previous course notes and my knowledge around MOC Building a 2nd brain.

Where will a Second Brain help

  • Find anything you’ve learned in seconds
  • Organize knowledge to move goals forward
  • Save your best thinking
  • Connect ideas across different areas of life
  • Turn work “off” and relax, with a trusted system that keeps track of all the details
  • Spend more time doing the best, most creative work you’re capable of

About Notes

Helps you to recall anything you want to remember to achieve anything your desire.

  • Notes are where I keep m\y most important knowledge
  • A note is a knowledge building block. A discrete unit of information, with my personal view/interpretation.

A second brain does

  • makes ideas/thoughts concrete
  • turn information into tangible items one can work with
  • it helps to create new associations
  • incubate ideas over time (and combats recency bias)
  • sharpens the perspective and provides supporting material to an argumentation
  • a Second Brain - the collection of all tools I use to interact with my information & knowledge
  • notes apps allow to stay informal and ideal for free form exploration
  • take care that notes are useful to you know
  • sensitivity to resonance … what is relevant and important to me

Capture - What resonates

  • reference to knowledge banks - commonplace books
    • to inform writing, speaking and conversation
  • knowledge = content
    • article highlights, quotes, books, voice memos, meeting notes
    • internal: sparks of insights, stories, memories, reflections
  • capture when something resonates - make it simple, just capture that in a note
  • personal notes vs organizational notes
    • have your own Second Brain - individual to yourself
  • when using a Second Brain in an organization
    • make sure everyone is aligned on the organizing system behind
    • describe that method
    • train everyone how to use it
    • only store shared projects in the shared space
    • ensure that you only add context when you share. And make sure that sharing is actually worth it. Will it be really used by multiple people?
  • 12 favorite problems - filter for what to capture
    • What are the questions I’ve always been interested in?
    • Start with How/What open ended questions
    • Let it invoke a state of wonder
    • helps to cultivate a spirit of discovery

12 question prompts

How can I…? How might we…? How can my organization…? How can I help others to…? How does X relate to Y? How do I…? What does it look like to…? What would be possible if…? What do I want with…? What would I do if…? What would happen if…? What would have to be true to…?

4 Capture criteria (OR connected)

  • Does it inspire me?
  • Is it useful? (statistic, reference)
  • Is this personal? (so connecting a personal moment, that only I can have)
  • Is it surprising? (Did I not already know it…. Does it conflict with my existing point of view)

Capture toolkit

  • explore youtube transcripts to easier get the main message exported
  • further explore into Voice memo and reasonable pipeline
  • can I forward an eMail to Obsidian?
  • use screenshot and use AI text recognition features
  • capture goal: move towards lowest friction method to get knowledge into your Second Brain
  • don’t think too much about organizing at this point

Organize - for actionability

  • organize by how actionable and information is, not what kind of information it is
  • PARA is tool independent from the tool
  • Projects - Short term efforts in your work-life that you’re working on now
  • Areas - Long term responsibilities you want to manage over time
  • Topics or interest that may be useful in the future
  • Archives - inactive items from any of the 3 categories (PAR)
  • Works with an Inbox to manage new arrivals to the system
  • Use the inbox to decouple capturing and organizing of notes
  • Organize when you do have time to organize your notes
    • ask: How actionable is this?
  • What matters: If I’m actively focussed on something related to those notes
    • Notes can an should move around PARA
  • Usually resources and archives are of very low maintainance. Projects and Areas should have a bit more love.

Distill - your notes to reveal their essence

Importance of Discovery for the Notes

  • What is in the notes?
  • How to access the most actionable information?
  • Key is to distill message down to the key points and action steps
  • each layer of highlighting should contain between 10-20% of the previous layer
  • highlight with a purpose in mind. And often to be done best before you need to apply that knowledge

Express - yourself through your work in the smallest useful way you can

  • Don’t wait to share what you know
  • Express early, more frequently and in smaller chunks
  • Test what works and gather feedback
  • Intermediate packets - small pieces of work in progress

Types of Intermediate packets

  • distilled notes
  • outtakes - materials from past projects that did not make it into past projects
  • works-in-progress - produced during past projects
  • final deliverables from past projects
  • documents created by others
  • cite your sources and give credit


  • Become interruption-proof
  • Make progress in short spans of time - match time available
  • Get Feedback more often
  • Execute entire projects buy just putting together previous work

Retrival methods

  • Search
  • Browsing through PARA - this way you create serendepity and working with contextual clues
  • Tags
    • as general structuring method tags require to high cognitive load to add this to each note
    • especially good when you want to gather, connect and synthesize notes on the fly
  • Serendipity
  • AI applied to my notes


Divergence and Convergence

  • alternating back & forth between these two states
  • divergence
    • open widely - time to wonder without contraints
  • convergance
    • project management
    • take decisions and select the best ones

      3 Essential Second Brain techniques

      To help you through the pitfall of convergence.

The Archipelago of Ideas

This technique revolves around creating a chain of inspiring quotes, ideas, or points that serve as the foundation of your work. By already having these ‘islands of insight’, you’re equipped with stepping stones that guide your execution, turning a daunting task into an approachable process.

A variant of Outlining.

The Hemingway Bridge

Named after the famous writer Ernest Hemingway, this method focuses on ending each work session with a clear understanding of the next step. This strategy lets you use yesterday’s momentum to fuel today’s work, eliminating the friction of starting from scratch.

  • write out intention for next work session

Dial Down the Scope

Realize the value of focusing on the core, high-impact elements of your project. By doing so, you can achieve the most value in a fraction of the time. The non-essential parts can be stored for future use, reducing regrets about wasted efforts.

  • deliver the vast majority of the value in a fraction of the time it would require to build full scope
  • save removed parts e.g. to resources or archives

Project Kickoff Checklist


  • Write initial notes in a new project folder
    • Braindump of all thoughts around that project, just as a note
  • check relates folders for notes or tags
  • use search
  • move notes into the new project folder
  • create an outline based on the notes moved to the project folder

Project Completion Checklist

10-30’ To capture assets from finished projects to give a jumpstart to a new project

  • Mark project as complete
  • Review project goals
  • Review intermediate packets and move notes in your Second Brain
  • Move project folder to archive
  • Add current status to cancelled or postponed projects

Weekly review checklist

  • every 3..10 days - just make it a repeatable practice
  • clear eMail inbox
  • check calendar
    • last few weeks for follow ups
    • upcoming weeks
  • clear desktop
  • clean notes inbox (that was likely filled by the previous steps)
    • do that with light capturing touch! Not yet refine it… wait for when you need it really
  • refine task list
    • clear to done
    • plan next week


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