My personal PKM | How I surface linear and non-linear thinking

My biggest success on YouTube is How to write a thesis 10 minutes at a time. In that video I describe an abbreviated flow targeted toward getting students to write more, and take advantage of writing as a tool to organize thinking and make compounded progress on their projects. This video however, is just a taste of my overall knowledge management process, and even more than PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) how I manage myself. Thus, in this post I will attempt to describe to you my personal management, the process by which I manage myself.

My flow is 2 basic steps to tolerate short term issues. What I call my linear effort

Thinking is non-linear, hence there you cannot get there with journals, and lists. These are inherently linear devices. Hence, at the end of each day,

Listen with a Pen

I wrote a whole separate post on how I listen. Listening is a deliberate tool and an essential first step to my personal process.

Maintain a Todo List

Maintaining a todo list, is the practical step to the philosophical goal of externalizing memory. I try to keep my brain out of executive mode as much as possible. My todo list is the executive mode of my brain, once an item makes it on paper, I can forget about it. Paper is durable.

Maintain an Antinet

Now we have two skills that help us through the day. Let’s review what this gives us.

  1. Listen with a Pen - We are present in meetings and conversations with people.
  2. Todo List - Things that gotta get done will get done, but we allow our creative mode to interrupt executor mode when the muse arrives.

These are both short term optimizations. They optimize moments and short term executive items that need to be done. How do we extend ourselves over a long term? Second brain? Zettlekasten? Yes. However the flavor I prefer is Scott Scheper’s Antinet

Connect the short term to the permanent, e.g., Journal into your antinet.

Here is the final key to my personal knowledge flow. At the end of every day, my journey is full of todo items, random thoughts, meeting notes, discussions, whatever. Sometimes those meeting notes become short term (linear) items that I move back into the todo list.

However, some items are more project, or ideas. Something I call “interestingly” Any time I come across a line in my journal for that day that give me that “huh…. I didn’t think of it that way…” that’s what Hawking calls “an exception” in my brain. The brain made a prediction about the nature of something. When my writing contradicts that prediction, that’s interesting! It needs to be filed.

Every interesting thing I come across for that day becomes 1 card for my antinet. I write up the idea, and potentially extend the idea into a permanent note and connect it to other concepts in my antinet. This is similar to Tom7’s project file Tom7 has a ton of interesting projects. Whenever he has an idea he adds it to a file. When he has time for a new project he peruses through the file to find an interesting project. Its a basic form of the Second Brain tools that we use here. With 1 key exception! File it according to the “address of interestingness” Those Luhmann numbers you add to your cards, I consider as if ip addresses to cortical nodes from your own brain. In this way, your antinet extends the 6 layes of cortical membrane to a new 7th or 10th! or however deep your Luhmann branches extend.

That’s how I do it

The most important part of this flow is that it’s mine. It works for me. I think it’s a fantastic starting place, but it is only that, a starting place. you MUST make it your own for it to be effective. Everyone’s brain is different, hence everyone’s second brain must by definition be different.