By combining two approaches from personal knowledge management we can create a powerful second brain.

How to create the knowledge base for your life

Steffen Bleher
Steffen Bleher
3 min read

Often when we see something interesting, we take a picture of it to save it for later, add it to a folder on our computer to have it organized, or add a link to a bookmark list in our browser. We use a cloud service to store PDFs and files, have note-taking apps to capture ideas, write down things we want to remember, and in the end, we use a document editor to write the next report from all that information.

This process is cumbersome, and we agree that it’s not very effective. Most of the time we never read our bookmarks again, we kind of know that there was a PDF on this topic, but searching for it is hopeless because of its cryptic name. Our everyday life is filled with information and content, everything piles up and creates a huge mess.

A lot of us earn our living by exactly doing that day in and day out. Let’s take back control and make the best out of it!

There is good news: The space of note-taking has evolved. Notion defined a new category of note-taking apps: simple block-based notes in combination with hierarchies and databases. It allows you to structure and organize your information in new ways: Define how a database entry looks and build hierarchies to structure pages and databases, search your content and connect your databases.

Hierarchical Organisation

On the other hand, new tools like Obsidian or Roam Research organize your content based on the relationships it has with other content. You create notes or add images and add links between them. There is no predefined hierarchy or structure. A network of thoughts emerges from your links and supports you in your thinking process: You might discover something you didn’t know before purely based on how different ideas and topics are related.

Associative Organisation

We can think of the first approach as a librarian, who structures information and organizes content, and the second as a student, who learns something new every day but first tries to understand it and then relates it to what she already knows.

The truth is: To create something valuable you need to be both, a librarian and a student. You need to organize a lot of information but also draw conclusions from them and know how they relate to each other. Combining both personalities in one system allows you to create a powerful second brain, an extension of your mind.

For exactly that reason, we created capacities.io, a new note-taking app that combines these concepts in a simple but powerful way. You can create any kind of content from everywhere and connect it to related content. Meanwhile, it will be stored in a central database for you. You don’t have to think about the organization in the beginning, there are always several ways to access your content again. Plus you can refine your organization later with tags, collections, and links. If you need hierarchies, you can remix any content on pages and create hierarchical structures to get a tailored overview of your projects and areas. This process maps your thinking and creation process. Over time you will build up a system that is well organized and connected, a system that you can search and browse to create something new from what you already have.

Combining both approaches

That way, you make the most out of every day’s flood of information. It will become your new superpower and you will be more effective in the future.

Build your second brain.

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