Lessons from Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte

Quick Summary

A second brain is a type of digital personal knowledge management system to help us capture, organize, distill and express our ideas. Using this system reduces stress and leaves more time for creative pursuits.

Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential by Tiago Forte, published in 2022

Lessons Learned

Share Your Knowledge

Tiago made that case it’s fine to consume content, but that we should be creating more to share our knowledge with the world and make it a better place. Somehow, I wasn’t expecting this message, as I assumed a productivity book would be about the technical side of checking off tasks.
As a previous Evernote user, I could relate to “digital hoarding”. I would use the web clipper to save all kinds of articles and inspiration. But I never got around to incorporating that inspiration into something of my own that I could share with the world. Reading this book was one of the motivators for me to start Focused Curiosity!

Think About Your Future Self

Tiago goes into great detail about the process of note-taking and organization. Taking the extra time now to properly label (tag) your notes and put them into a proper folder structure will reduce the time you spend searching for a note later. Basically, he recommends thinking about how to make things easier for your future self. This folder structure is referred to as the PARA method, which stands for Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archive.
I personally tried PARA and found it worked best for me with files on my local computer or in cloud storage like Google Drive.

Save Now But Read Later

Tiago makes the case for read later apps or functions that are built-in to your web browser. If you come across something interesting put it in the read later app and come back to it when you have dedicated down time.
I’m definitely guilty of getting distracted by reading articles or watching videos that are not related to my current task. Implementing this one idea has helped me stay focused and I now look forward to uninterrupted reading time.

Similar Methods

Tiago Forte’s work is heavily influenced by David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. David’s framework includes 5 steps: capturing, clarifying, organizing, reflecting, and engaging. Tiago has simplified this to capture, organize, distill and express.