Photo by Jubal Kenneth Bernal

The Journey for My Second Brain

As I get older, I find myself thinking more about knowledge management and the concept of a second brain comes up

David Allan (Author of Getting Things Done says “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them”. Your brain not suited for storage, it is more adept to processing information and developing new ideas.

There is so much that I have learned throughout my life, and the best way I’ve heard it put is “My brain is a dumbass, I’m not going to remember this” -Ali Abdaal

Because of my desire to not forget bits of information. I have stumbled across the ideas of Knowledge Management with systems like Zettelkasten, and more recently the concept of the Second Brain. Though with the current state of my notes and knowledge, that presents a few problems.

What is Wrong With Me

Problem 1: Notes spread throughout systems

To put it simply, I have too many notes spread in too many systems. I have notes in Obsidian, Notion, Apple Notes, and random text documents. I don’t know if this problem is specific to my personality and brain, or if this is a widespread issue and it just doesn’t seem like it due to some strange form of Survivorship Bias for productivity.

It doesn’t help that the well formed systems one can be exposed to through professional productive people like Thomas Frank and Ali Abdal fall into this productivity survivor camp. They share their systems because their systems have helped them build a platform around which to share productivity advice.

Problem 2: Inconsistency

If TikTok has taught me anything, it is either that I have Attention Defecit Disorder (ADD) (note: obviously self-diagnosis is a bad thing, don’t do it) or I share a lot of traits with someone with ADD. This leads to major errors in my consistency on any system I attempt to implement.

Problem 3: Lack of a Primary Productivity System

Somewhat related to problems 1 and 2, I currently do not follow any particular system for productivity. I have looked at Getting Things Done and Time Blocking and I am currently attempting to following some hybrid mix of the two. Really heavily on Google Calendar and Todoist to keep track of events and tasks while being cross compatible with Windows and MacOS.

Problem 4: Lack of Focus

This one is pretty personal to me. I spent so long focused on one major goal, finishing college, and thankfully April 2021 I was able to realize that goal and graduate with my Bachelor’s in Computer Science. Because of life circumstances this wasn’t a straightforward goal and instead of the normal 4 year college track, it took me a total of 14 years to complete a Bachelor’s degree. Finally achieving a goal that you have worked towards for so long is hard to take in, and the achievement of that goal has left me like a ship rudderless. The productivity “systems” I had in place were only suitable for school, they were intense focus for really short bursts (about a semester’s worth, weird), and were highly dependent on the singular goal of “a degree” and driven by the tasks of each class taken. Now that I have finished college (Woo!), I can start living my real life. The only problem is, what do I do now?

Moving Forward: Where am I Now?

I will be really honest, I started writing this almost a year and a half ago and I just opened it back up and realized I should probably actually finish it out. I am not that much closer to solving any of the 4 problems above, but I still try every day. I tried Bullet Journals and other paper methods thinking that my problem was throwing all my stuff into electronic systems and maybe I have some for of lacking object permanence with electronic files. I don’t think I am that much closer to solving my second brain struggles, but I still try every day.