How often have you read a book, taken a course or listened to a podcast and . . . promptly forgotten everything the minute you switch your attention to something else?
Being able to retain what you learn is a central difficulty in our era of information abundance. Too many great ideas get wasted, simply because we forget them when we might need them.
Tiago Forte’s new book, Building a Second Brain, details one strategy for dealing with this problem: taking better notes. I recently sat down with Tiago to record an interview about his methodology, which he has been refining for years through his popular website and courses.
Building a Second Brain is a great complement to Ultralearning. Given the overwhelming learning challenges we all face, we need every tool at our disposal to master it.
Highlights from Our Conversation
On the importance of recognizing when an item on your to-do list is really a project:
Tiago: People really underestimate how much what they think is ‘a single task’ is really ‘a project’ . . .
If there’s anything that is stuck, that you just can’t seem to get started, you can’t seem to make progress on, it’s very likely that thing is not a ‘task,’ it’s a ‘project.’ And once you realize it’s a project, you have to step back and create some structure.
Why you need a system for organizing your creative work. Just sitting and waiting for inspiration won’t work:
Tiago: I just can’t sit down every day at a ‘blank’ anything; a blank desk, a blank screen, a blank canvas, and invent how I am going to approach my work that day. I need a process. I need a system. And what CODE does is it gives me steps. C = Capture more information, O = Organize the information, D = Distill the information, E = Express information.
How to collect the right amount of information:
Tiago: For note-taking, when you collect everything, you might as well collect nothing. When you try to save all the knowledge, you end up not having any knowledge that’s accessible. If you save everything you end up just creating a huge amount of work for your future self to organize, distill and review and boil down that to its essence.
The importance of completing projects:
Tiago: What makes the biggest difference to people’s lives, their careers and their businesses is “completed creative projects.” To me, that is the unit of progress that is most relevant in today’s modern world.
Building a Second Brain is a well-written useful book, and I highly recommend people check it out!