How to Create Your Personal Knowledge Base

What is a Personal Knowledge Base? #

A library of knowledge/documentation you create, save, and curate yourself.
Sometimes referred to as your “Second Brain.”

What Can I keep in a Personal Knowledge Base? #

  • Typed/written notes
  • Photos/images
  • Articles and information from the web
  • Scanned information

How Does a Knowledge Base Help Me? #

  • Saves knowledge so it isn’t lost
  • Makes knowledge available offline
  • Helps you find and make connections using your information

Uses for a Personal Knowledge Base #

  • Research, reusing ideas, building reports
  • Process documentation
  • Creating templates and checklists
  • Preparing for meetings
  • Learning
  • Saving time
  • Hobbies and interests
  • In business, knowledge bases are used to help customers (think FAQs)

Personal Knowledge Base vs Work Knowledge Base #

  • Your personal knowledge base goes with you wherever you work
  • You lose access to work knowledge bases when you leave

Can’t I Just Use The Internet? #

  • Useful information you found once may be removed when you go back to it or not be findable as easy the second time
  • Can’t work offline with the Internet
  • It is difficult to add notes and context to Internet things you find if you don’t save them
  • Articles you have read and chosen to save are stronger and more relevant than random new articles on the Internet on a topic
    (remember that you didn’t choose to save most articles you read)

What Software Should I Use? #

There us no one perfect software. I use UpNote, but you can use Evernote, OneNote or other notes programs to create your own
You can see my UpNote video review for more details.
Why I use UpNote:
  • clean, minimalist look
  • web clipping
  • bidirectional linking of notes
  • good support
  • multi-platform and device

Garland’s Approach #

  1. Commit
  2. Collect
  3. Curate
  4. Use

Committing To Your Knowledge Base #

  • A knowledge base where you dump info and never look at it is a waste of time
  • Your knowledge base needs to be the FIRST place you go to find information
  • Then you supplement your knowledge base with Internet searches and other information and add that new information to your base
  • So your knowledge base just keeps getting better and better

Collecting Useful Information #

  • Writing notes – will you understand the note 1 year later?
    • bullet points
  • Web clipping – saves web articles to your notes system. Helps keep info in the event online articles are taken down or moved
  • Email capture
  • Scan print items/articles you want to save
  • Voice to text notes on smartphones


Curation: Making Content Useful #

  • Curating your notes adds context to them and helps you find connections
  • Add graphic elements, highlighting, colors to add visual interest
  • Dump notes you no longer feel are current or needed. Is it worth making part of your knowledge?
  • Tag notes using @keyword to make them easy to search
  • Link to other notes (bidirectional linking)

Using Your Personal Knowledge Base #

  • Need to live in your system – first place to go for info
  • Search all notes
  • Continually pruning, adding context
  • Be cautious not to spend so much time organizing your knowledge base that you don’t use it

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