What are the essential steps in managing personal knowledge?
To manage information and transform it into knowledge, we can go through different steps. By going to the essence of the process, we could identify these key activities:
Let’s see what each of them entails.
It’s the acquisition phase: each time you need to remember something, or you want to write it down. Any piece of information contributing to either remembering personal and professional knowledge or keeping track of important events in your life is around you, always. Not everything is interesting, and you cannot capture all, but according to your needs and interests, you could capture many different types of information. Without aiming at an exhaustive list, you might need to capture data in some of the following scenarios:
- When reading a book, you should capture the passages resonating with you and paraphrase them to interpret them.
- During and after a meeting, you might want to summarize the key concepts discussed or plan for the next actions.
- Recording contacts for new people encountered and essential information about them would improve your networking and relationship management skills.
- To keep track of important dates, due dates, delivery dates, birthdays, recurrent events, celebrations.
- Lists: bibliographies, books to read, films, articles, or online resources like website bookmarks or podcasts.
The captured information needs to be stored in a safe, portable, and accessible way. If you fall into the Collector’s Fallacy trap, you may skip this phase, but that would be sad. Why did you accumulate all of that information if you’ll never look back at it again?
Captured information needs to be organized so that you can find it again when you will need it. You could easily get lost in Information Science or Science of Organizing Information, and you would never obtain the perfect information organization system, so get over it. You need to grow your information architecture. There are design principles, tools, and methods to follow, but you are unique, and you will never find somebody else’s organizational strategies to fit your needs perfectly. While you could start with some famous (or obscure) frameworks, you’ll discover that only by continuously refining your information organization approaches you’ll be able to reach a good result.
What are you going to do with hundreds of web bookmarks? Thousand of JPEG Images? An Infinite series of PDF files? What about your scribbled paper notes sparse all over the places? And your multi-GB digital scrapbook?
IF you want to make fair use of your life, you should have your note-archive to become your most powerful creative tool.
A piece of information stored without a future intent is useless. It could be well-manifest or uncertain, explicit, or to be discovered, but anything you add to your Zettelkasten should have strong connections with your future.
The idea of your future self is crucial in the development phase of your PKM, and it will need some time to be exposed.
So you have a shiny, tidy, digital wall of well-organized notes. You can find any stored ideas within milliseconds. You can associate the most disparate concepts: Rare Mushrooms and Lysergic Travels, cooking and design, that small ache you have in your arm, and ergonomics.
Great. But now, what are you going to do with the novel and useful knowledge you’ve created?
Share it! If you don’t put your bright ideas into the World, what would you need a PKM System for?
In the Share phase, we need to explore the various content publishing media: personal essays, messages, letters, emails, and article drafts, papers, book chapters, lessons, tutorials, and also social media posts or forum thread replies.
Sharing is your ultimate goal, and the sharing phase in your PKM system should lead and inspire your entire workflow.
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