How I Built My Second Brain

Why do we need a second brain?

  • To broaden your perspective (X% of your learning is useless, but you don’t know which X%)
  • To distill information to an essential relevant and manageable minimum
  • To create a just-in-time factory to prompt future action
  • To curate the best knowledge from the constant stream of information
  • To pay dividends to my future self

Be the author of your own meaning-making system.

How to improve your second brain?

  • Compress each work session into 1–5 deliverables so I can easily discover and reuse them in the future
  • Automate note-taking transfer across different apps
  • Build trust with the system by constantly troubleshooting & refining it

A few more myths…

  1. Shiny object syndrome: Productivity is not about the tool. When it comes to tools and organization, stick to the ones that are good enough will save you time and give you peace of mind.
  2. Save everything: Quite the contrary — we only want to save a handful of gems, so we need to create a very tight filter. You can start by only highlighting 10% of books and only write down the surprises from a course.
  3. Procrastination is bad: It’s okay to procrastinate on purpose as long as you are not constantly de-prioritizing the same task. If you find yourself struggling with the same thing, try to seek people’s help or simply archive the task that drains your energy.
  4. Information is scarce: We are wired to think we don’t have enough. This scarcity mindset serves well in consumerism, but it is harmful to our wellbeing and life quality. Instead of wondering what you are missing, focus on what you have already. You have enough. Once you release yourself from the need, you can approach it with desire.
  5. Productivity is measured by input: The whole point is to avoid processing and delaying consumption. You should reserve your valuable energy for the most important agenda.

Check out the full second brain guide (in Chinese) here.

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