How to Build the Second Brain

How many brilliant ideas have you forgotten? How many insights have you failed to take action on?

We feel constant pressure to be reading, listening, and watching informational content. And yet, where has all that knowledge gone? Where is it when we need it? Our brain can only store a few thoughts at any one time. Our brain is for having ideas, not storing them.

Building a Second Brain is a methodology for saving and systematically reminding us of the ideas, insights, and connections we’ve gained through experience. It expands our intellect using the modern tools of technology and networks.


10 Principles of building a Second Brain


  1. Borrowed Creativity

Instead of starting from scratch, you can use other people’s ideas and put them together with your own, and create something that benefits you. That way, you spend time creating what you need to reach your goals, instead of wasting hours trying to start from zero.

Example: If you use Notion, you may know that the templates created by notion users can be used and personalized by others.


2. The Capture Habit

Our mind is fragile, therefore every idea, thought or information that interests us must be captured and recorded either manually or digitally.

Example: When reading a book, listening to a podcast, or any activity about a certain topic, if you find something that resonates with you should save it and use it.


3. Idea Recycling

Reusing our own ideas in several projects is an activity that can be very useful to us since we not only relate the new information with what we already have but, in this way, we avoid starting a project with a blank mind.


4. Proyects Over Categories

When capturing an idea, instead of categorizing it in a folder, it is better to join it with other documents that have a clear objective such as a project or activity.

Example: You want to be more productive, gather all the ideas that help to that end.


5. Slow Burns

Although you could finish a project, task or activity if you focus on it for a long period of time, this does not mean that you should do it.

You will end up exhausted and limited to advance one project at a time. Instead, dividing your schedule into different activities and repeating them every day is more convenient.

Example: Instead of cramming all night, studying a few hours every day is better for our health and more effective.


6. Start with abundance

Do not start with a blank page, when dealing with a new topic, you may have read or saved some information that is related to it, therefore you can use these papers or research that you did to start and have a better vision of the subject.


7. Intermediate Packets

Known as a block of content or information in an essay. It is like a section or paragraph in the paper, you can take them and use them in other projects.

If you can, memorize the blocks of information that can help you in the future so that you can insert them whenever you want.


8. You only know what you make

We can see, listen, and read all kinds of things that interest us, but at the end of the day what we are going to be left with is everything we do with that information, whether it is a summary of these materials or some other activity such as writing your opinion or thoughts about it.


9. Make it easier for your future self

Create documents or files that your future self can easily understand, use your own words, make mind maps, or do your own summaries because you will most likely forget everything you are learning now.

Example: The infographic at the beginning is a good example, it synthesizes the concepts and activities involved in building a Second Brain.


10. Keep your ideas moving

It doesn’t matter how much information you’re storing in your second brain if you don’t put it into practice, it’s useless for it to be there accumulating.

Example: We all know that exercising is good, but not all of us practice it.

From the book:-
The Second Brain: A Method to Organize Your Ideas by Tiago Forte

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