• Toby Sinclair

Building a Second Brain Summary by Tiago Forte

📚 Buy Building a Second Brain on Amazon

⭐ Rating: 8/10 - Recommended For: Everyone

✏️ Building a Second Brain Summary Written by Steven Menczel


3 Big Ideas from Building a Second Brain 💡

  1. Personal Knowledge Management is essential and is about taking and managing notes. Today, we deal with five times more information on a daily basis than 30 years ago. More than ever, we need a simple system to take notes, organise them, and use them to create.

  2. Use Tiago's CODE System. The system is about Capturing important information in a note-taking app, Organising it using his PARA System (Projects, Areas, Resources, Archive), Distilling each note to its essence, and using this knowledge to Express our work.

  3. Focus on information that resonates and is actionable. One of the key elements of the system is to learn how to discern information that resonates (inspiring, useful, personal, surprising), and to organise it not by what kind of information it is, but by how actionable it is, so it contributes more to our creative expression.

2 Best Quotes from Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte 💬


Your Second Brain is always on, has perfect memory, and can scale to any size. The more you outsource and delegate the jobs of capturing, organizing, and distilling to technology, the more time and energy you’ll have available for the self-expression that only you can do.
The best way to organize your notes is to organize for action, according to the active projects you are working on right now. Consider new information in terms of its utility, asking, ‘How is this going to help me move forward with one of my current projects?'

Building a Second Brain Summary


Building a Second Brain Takeaways


Here are Steven's Building a Second Brain summary takeaways


There is so much information in Building a Second Brain. It is challenging to highlight only the 'essence' (as Tiago would say) The overarching theme here is to look at our information-saturated world in a different way. To use curiosity and hone our ability to identify information that resonates with us. Then capture it effectively, and organise it so it is easily retrievable by our future self. Then most importantly, use it to express ourselves. In this way, the Building a Second Brain book is not so much a treatise on productivity, but rather a call to store and organise information outside our 'first brain' so we can free ourselves up to be more creative.


That said, Tiago does have a detailed 'system' here, that revolves around his CODE and PARA acronyms.


Code = Capturing, Organising, Distilling and Expressing


PARA = Projects, Areas of Responsibility (for example, health), Resources (topics that may be useful in the future) and Archives (inactive items from the other categories).


Things I liked:

  1. Managing information is an enormous challenge today, and it's refreshing to see a system that looks at it from a creativity, rather than a productivity perspective.

  2. Note-taking is a skill that isn't often taught. Tiago does a good job of breaking it down and demonstrating how to distil the information down into smaller, more powerful chunks.

  3. The organising system is common sense and designed for action so the 'Second Brain' serves our needs, rather than be a storage space for unnecessary knowledge.


Things that might be problematic for some:

  1. The system relies on us adapting the way we look at information and developing a heightened awareness of what resonates and what doesn't, in the moment. This may be difficult for some people.

  2. As with all systems, it does rely on regular maintenance habits. As a habit enthusiast, I know well how difficult it is to build new habits to set up and continue weekly and monthly reviews of stored information. Again, this is a price to pay to develop a Second Brain, and it will be too high for some.

  3. Some of the apps he recommends (Notion, Obsidian) are daunting and can make the system seem like more work than it is worth.

Overall, an important book that tackles head-on the current challenge of managing information.


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How To Begin Book Summary Written by: Steven Menczel



I’m a behaviour designer and my mission is to shorten the process of moving from theory to results by creating powerful and positive habits and routines - on the way I make people happier, healthier and more successful. 📚 I love to read because it nourishes and provokes me, and I view my reading as an ongoing dialogue that adds to the conversation of who we are, and why we do what we do. 📗 I also summarised How To Begin by Michael Bungay Stanier