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Why and for whom might this be relevant?

15 Powerful Life Illustrations

For whom?

Starters with Obsidian and Building a Second Brain

They struggle with the initial complexity of using Obsidian. And also grasping the idea of Building a Second Brain.

It took me weeks to get a good understanding what this topic is about. And how tools like Obsidian connect with the topic of Building a Second Brain.

What might be their motivation?

What was my motivation? Why did I invest in Building my Second Brain?

  • I was not satisfied with the way of working with my previous learnings. I read a lot but lost much of this information.
  • I felt lost when it came to work with previous acquired knowledge. As soon as I wanted to drill down and share my knowledge with others e.g. in presentations or directly, I often roughly remembered where I got this insights from. And it took me additional effort that mostly felt wasteful to exactly find the information - the page in a book, the picture I remembered, the workshop I ran, the presentation I gave.
  • Since I started working with my Second Brain that changed
    • I have several anchors for my knowledge. And several paths lead to my knowledge
      • MOC, Daily Journal, PARA entry points, Johnny Decimal, Tagging, strong search across one bigger knowledge storage
    • With my distilled information I can grasp the essence of a knowledge artefact much faster. When I want to drill down I can follow many traces available
  • My knowledge was scattered across many places - Kindle, Google Drive, Amazon Drive, Hard-Disks, Google Docs, Miro Boards, Phone, Remarkable, Mails … and many more. And there was no trace I could easily follow to recap information and follow connections.
    • PARA and Johnny Decimal support with a lightweight structure for my knowledge that provides traces and connections between information
    • Within Obsidian and its rich plugin landscape I can centralise a lot of previously distributed knowledge. I have still many things flying around in several systems. But applying the BoyScout rules improves that in small steps. And all new information is now immediately arriving in my Second Brain in Obsidian.
  • Publish my Motivation at LinkedIn - My motivation for Building a Second Brain

What helped me

A colleague (David) gave me a first introduction. I was overwhelmed and it took me a while to take my first steps in playing with that system. The anchos was Obsidian and managing my information. It was not yet connected with Building my Second Brain.

I started with a predefined vault - the Obsidian Starter Kit. It helped me to understand the basics of Obsidian and how a structure might look like. And it formed a first bridge to understand the importance of cross linking and connecting information. It felt already like a knowledge web. Not yet connected with the term brain.

Linking Your Thinking and their rich initial setup of an Obsidian Vault that explained several concepts of that system. Concepts like MOCs became clear. And also an alternative approach to structure information, not longer based too much on a folder structure but smart linking. This was advanced and it took me a while to understand it and capture main concepts.

I’m not sure when Tiago Forte’s Building a Second brain appeared on my knowledge horizon. But when it arrived it was a full hit. Tiago’s amazing skill to describe the system, what problems it addresses and creating the rich set of approaches that are tool acqnostic hooked me. And I started with implementing PARA and CODE. Benefits became clear quite fast.

First I read many of his articles. Actually derived from following his CODE approach. I really like the high quality of his content. It shows that his system is working. The I read his book Building a Second brain. Very well done and highly recommended read.

I’m implementing more and more aspects of Capture, Organize, Distill and Express and this journey let to great additions like

  • numbering with Johnny Decimal (Organize)
  • working out loud with my Digital Garden (Express)
  • capturing via Matter and Kindle Sync (Capture)
  • depending working with books by applying my Kanban book processing flow and using progressive summarization (Distill)

Somehow around that time I also came across the Johnny Decimal system. It felt like a great addition to PARA as it further enhances searchability. I’m still exploring and experimenting with my numbering system but for now I can already state that it helps so much when looking for information across my devices.

So at the moment my Second brain is a blend of several great approached for managing knowledge. Core approaches I integrated are:

  • PARA and Johnny Decimal for organizing my knowledge
  • CODE for processing information and transforming it to knowledge
  • Obsidian as enabler to technically implement my 2nd brain
  • a Digital Garden based on extractions from my Obsidian vault to implement working out loud [[Show Your Work!]] and expressing my thoughts
  • Maps of Content from Linking Your Thinking to better connect knowledge artefacts with central topics (aspect of capture and organize but also expressing knowledge)
  • Kanban and Progressive Summarization for working with books, videos and further longer formats
  • Capturing information via Matter and Kindle sync and plugins for Obsidian.
  • Using elements from taking Smart Notes How to take Smart Notes - Key Insights based on Luhmann’s Zettelkasten

How can I help others

Immediately show the connection between different aspects of building a Second Brain and remove many if the learning steps. Make that system accessible and lightweight to apply.

Connect with the attention span … and time to attention.

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