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Building a Second Brain

Hey friends, A few Sundays ago, I shared a link in this newsletter to an article called How to create
Building a Second Brain
By Ali Abdaal • Issue #50 • View online
Hey friends,
A few Sundays ago, I shared a link in this newsletter to an article called How to create Idea babies - A knowledge processing system for marketers, creators and knowledge workers. This led me down the rabbit hole of the internet and I ultimately came across the concept of a Building a Second Brain.
This article by Tiago Forte sold me on it. Here’s how he describes it.
How many brilliant ideas have you had and forgotten? How many insights have you failed to take action on? How much useful advice have you slowly forgotten as the years have passed?
We feel a constant pressure to be learning, improving ourselves, and making progress. We spend countless hours every year reading, listening, and watching informational content. And yet, where has all that valuable 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, inspirations, insights, and connections we’ve gained through our experience. It expands our memory and our intellect using the modern tools of technology and networks.
When I read those first 3 paragraphs, my mind was blown. It was as if this guy was speaking to my very soul, articulating problems I’d been thinking about for years but never been able to put into words.
Since discovering this Second Brain / Personal Knowledge Management stuff, I’ve excitedly started to put it into practice. I’ve switched all my note-taking and writing over to Notion, a really great app that you should definitely try out. And I’ve started to actively write down thoughts and ideas I have throughout my day.
For example, if I hear something that resonates with me while listening to a podcast, I pause it, screenshot the timestamp, share it into Notion and write a few thoughts fleshing out the idea. These then become fodder for future videos and blog posts, but more importantly, they sit in my Second Brain where they can be linked with existing ideas in the present, and with new ideas in the future.
I’m still very new to this PKM / Second Brain stuff but it’s already made my content consumption far more intentional, and changed the way I organise my life and my projects. I’ll definitely share more as I expand my own system and use-cases, but if this sounds up your street, I’d recommend giving it a go - hopefully we can explore this new territory together.
Have a great week!
Ali

This week's podcast
If you didn’t know, last week my brother and I started a new weekly podcast called Not Overthinking. Big thank you to everyone who listened to and commented on the first episode 😊
The second episode is now out (we’re hoping to release them every Sunday morning), and the podcast is now available on all platforms (iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Apple Podcasts etc).
It would mean the world if you could leave us a rating and a review wherever you get your podcasts 😘
002 - Why are we scared to put ourselves out there? | Not Overthinking
Stuff I enjoyed this week
1 - Article - The PARA Method: A Universal System for Organizing Digital Information - This is a follow-up article to the Second Brain one written by Tiago Forte. It’s an interesting look at what goes into a systematic organisation system, and I’ve taken many ideas away from it for how to organise my own digital life.
2 - Article - Ten Lessons I Learned While Teaching Myself To Code - The title says it all. If you’ve ever even vaguely thought about learning how to code, this is a great read.
3 - Fantasy Book - After a brief hiatus, I’ve resumed reading Book #1 of The Faithful and the Fallen series by John Gwynne. It’s really good, and the first book is available on Kindle (at least in the UK) for just 99p!
4 - Video - How to Edit Photos on your Phone - Solid video by Tyler Stalman (who’s podcast is also very good if you’re a tech geek). I picked up some good photo editing tips, but also got incredibly inspired by how beautiful the video quality is.
Kindle Highlight of the Week
Out There and In Here are two very different kingdoms, and other people are not accountable for how we feel. No one, however ludicrously they behave, has the right or the direct means to affect your self-control or dignity. No one need annoy us so much that we in turn become a source of annoyance to others.
From Happy by Derren Brown.
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Ali Abdaal

Hey friends, I'm Ali, a Cambridge medicine graduate now working as an FY2 junior doctor. I spend most of my spare time making YouTube videos, but every Sunday I send out an email 'newsletter' with some thoughts, life lessons and interesting articles I discover on the internet.

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Ali Abdaal, Cambridge, UK.