This month of going through the Building a Second Brain course by Tiago Forte, partnered with Praxis, has been rewarding, insightful, and exciting. My initial thought at learning what we’d be doing this month was, “Why is building a second brain useful?”
Now, with a whole month of research and work behind me, that question is answered. In this case study, I’ll explain how I make this approach work for me and how it has enhanced and defined my creative process.
I’m going to use the 5 layers of progressive summarization (capture, embolden, highlight, summarize, and remix,) as a
Layer one: Captured my creativity
Going through each week I experienced a noticeable difference in how ideas came to me and how I processed them. Instead of scribbling down a few sentences, I filtered the ideas through not only my curiosity, but through genuine interests, goals, and endgames. Which in turn gave each worthwhile idea a purpose and an actionable outcome to shoot towards.
Layer two: Emboldened my filter of thought
Furthermore, with the aid of the Web Clipper as well as re-reading pieces of valuable information, my retention has risen. I’m a visual and actionable learner who needs to be hands-on, so the process of combing through notes and information with different filters each time made it interactive instead of methodical.
This skill is something I know will aid me in the future. Being able to reach back into my second brain, my backup brain, and be able to bring forward new and interesting perspectives and information will be critical to maintaining a solid workflow.
Layer three: Highlighted my organization skills
I’m a big fan of filing systems, and P.A.R.A. (Projects, Archives, Resources, and Areas) is one of my favorites now. The organization and storage of information along with simplifying file retrieval are valuable enhancements for completing efficient work.
The introduction of this method has improved my file location ten-fold and it will continue to be even more workable the longer I maintain it.
Layer four: Summarized my inspiration into actionable steps
I’ve always been a project person, but following an idea, while keeping a solid goal in mind, has been difficult for me. Though I’ve gotten better over the years at getting things done, this course heightened that ability extensively. Now, when I take on a new project, I know how to more efficiently and realistically give myself actionable steps to follow, along with tangible outcomes for each one. Having my projects align with my goals and pursuits is beyond motivating.
My backup brain holds onto the context, the bones, and the essence of a project so I can live free of scattered half-goals and murky endgames.
Layer five: Remixed my thought process towards deliverables and projects
The mindset I’ve been adopting over the last year came to a pinnacle this month. I’ve fought my perfectionism tooth and nail, knowing that it was causing more harm than good. The idea that a piece of content or a project must be at its highest point when presented to a team or partner is debilitating and counterproductive.
This course has helped me to walk more boldly on the path of embracing change and improvement, so much so that feedback and critiques have become one of my favorite parts of the creative process. What’s more exciting than knowing there is always room to improve?
With that is the joy that comes from offering feedback to others. I’m still working on that part. Believing that I have something valuable to add has been a struggle of mine, and I strive to help in any way I can, regardless of if I think my words are valuable or not.
Not only am I learning that I’m valuable and can have a positive impact, but I’m also learning that building up a database and maintaining it as you would your mind, is much more than keeping track of interesting articles. It is a map of effective thought processes and it is a new way to look at the world, yourself, and your career.
You get to chart the map. You have the parchment, the ink, the quill. You get to decide what gets transcribed and applied to your life, you control how much you gain by how much you put into it.
Meaning it’s on me to take what I’ve learned and use it to the best of my abilities.
How do I intend to do that? By using the tools in my belt. Drive, resilience, writing, communication, self-discipline, and enough determination to be overwhelming at times.
These traits and skills are jumping-off points. Everything I am is going to be dialed up the longer I build it, and that’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever felt. It means creating value for people. It means growing. It means I’m the type of person someone wants on their team.
I’ll wrap up this portion of my Building a Second Brain journey with a quote that, to me, reinforces how important it is to translate our thought patterns and ideas. They have power.
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”
-Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society
Thank you for reading, and thank you to everyone who helped make this month as successful as it was.