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Building a Second Brain: The Illustrated Notes

Last tended on January 06, 2020

In September of 2019 I took a course called Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte.

Much like it sounds, Building a Second Brain is about creating a reliable system – outside your physical skin-and-bone bodily boundaries – for storing, organising, digesting, and eventually transforming information into Good Creative Output.

Much like any well-integrated tool, the mental distance between you and the system grows small.
It's a lovely little closed feedback loop – a cybernetic system.
At this point almost all of my daily workflow revolves around my second brain. as, articles, books, papers, podcasts, and half-formed thoughts go in.
These build into notes and develop over time – they merge, meander, and mature into talks and blog posts and illustrations.
It is hard to remember what my workflow looked like without it.

For tools I'm currently using Roam Research, backed up by Keyboard Maestro for some fancy automation elements.

These illustrated cover all the sections of the course. Enjoy!


Building a second brain (BASB) illustrated notes on the PARA system of organising content projects, areas, resources, and archivesBASB sketchnotes on putting projects in priority order and defining the desired outcomeBASB sketchnotes on wiping the slate clean and setting up PARA as a folder structureBASB sketchnotes on creating metaplans before you start your project
BASB sketchnotes on digital cognition and building a personal knowledge baseBASB sketchnotes on your notes being unpolished, personal, open-ended, and diverseBASB sketchnotes on considering 12 favourite problems to focus on
BASB sketchnotes on balancing discoverability with understanding in your notesBASB sketchnotes on putting your notes through 5 layers of progressive summarisationBASB sketchnotes on focusing on what resonates when summarising your notes
BASB sketchnotes on thinking of return on attention like ROIBASB sketchnotes on flow state as the pinnacle of experience, learning, and performance. As well as the biochemistry of flow state.BASB sketchnotes on solving the interruptability of flow with placeholding and breaking work down into smaller packetsBASB sketchnotes on wrestling with knowledge by interacting with it in meanginful ways
Just in time project management helps us balance our workflow between capture and delivery.Your orderly system of notes is like mise en place – everything in its placeWe need flexible strategies, not static workflows. We diagnose the problem, form a guiding policy to tackle it, and write an action plan to implement it. Some workflow strategies we can use include context switching, changing the form of our notes, and adding colour commentary through annotations and highlights.
The final section of BASB covers how to make a personal knowledge management canvas

To be clear there's no affiliate as or kickback involved in these notes. I'm not being paid to say nice things about the course.

Tiago's ideas and systems are just good.
He thinks everything through in a way that feels rare on the insta-internet.

Hope it gave you a bit of insight into the BASB system. There's plenty more to explore on Tiago's Forte Labs Blog and he's good at tweeting.

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Maggie Appleton © 2020