Hobbling together a second brain

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a second brain? A place to put all the things we’d like to recall, but don’t want to clutter the forefront of our first brain. I’d love it. I use my first brain every day. However that brain has lots of things it loves to read about and learn about, and most of it isn’t applicable to the tasks readily at hand. Enter Tiago Forte and Building a Second Brain.

I’ve saved things in so many random places in my digital life I’m unsure if I could ever pull them all back together in one place. This leaves me going to Evernote for the size of my home’s furnace filters, Gmail for a saved receipt – or was it purchased on Amazon, where did I keep that article I wanted to read later – Instapaper, no Pocket, no Evernote again…wait, I just bookmarked it.

My first brain has too much going on in it to be worried about all of these things. Instead, I need a second brain. For that, I’m using a tool called Notion. Notion is a tool to organize information in nearly any way imaginable. Every page created can be one single thought. Each of these blog posts starts in Notion as a single page. Or information can be organized into tables and databases. More specifically every blog post I write starts in a database named “Editorial Calendar” with structured information about where to post it, what stage of the writing process it is in, a date to have it completed, and more.

When I have the idea to write about something, I can put the idea in, and then get back to work. My second brain does all the storing. My first brain knows where to go. And best of all, I can find this information when I need it.

However, there are some problems with this system. Being SO flexible leaves room for disorganization. Also, since I’ve only perused Tiago’s book, I’m not implementing his PARA organization methodology as readily as I should. I live very many lives between what I do personally, what I do professionally, and what I do that lives in a grey area betwixt those two. As such everything I build into Notion has to be able to switch between each of those base modes. Tiago would say those are the first A in PARA (Projects. Areas of responsibility, Research, Archive).

Honestly, I just need to take a weekend and a broom and clean up the mess I’ve made.

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