“The store of wisdom does not consist of hard coins which keep their shape as they pass from hand to hand; it consists of ideas and doctrines whose meanings change with the minds that entertain them.”-John Plamenatz.
As you go through life, you will do lots of things that your future self will need to know about. To keep track of all these things you need a Personal Knowledgement system. For example, if you ever want to work for the government and get a security clearance you have to list every place you have lived along with the dates you lived there. Not always easy to recall. You will need to keep a medical history for yourself and all your family members. Also, key documents such as rental agreements, drivers’ licenses, passport information, and tax information.
In college, it would be nice to have a place to keep your class notes after you finish a class. When you take a class after college for professional development, that information will become helpful. When you read a book any key points you want to remember would be useful.
Many decades ago, I kept all my class notes in a notebook that I threw away after the class finished. This is not the best practice. Keeping paper notes in a box or file cabinet as my daughter did for medical school didn’t work either. We finally threw them away.
These items and many more are resources that you may want to use in the future. Rather than waste it all, lose it in your parents’ garage or throw it away you can create a system to store, organize and retrieve this information on your computer. It will be available to you 5 minutes from now or 5 years. This is your Personal Knowledge management system.
Personal Knowledge Management
Personal Knowledge Management, or PKM for short, comprises three areas.
Getting Stuff Done or productivity or task management. These are your daily tasks, projects, classes, assignments, etc. They discuss this in gory detail in David Allen’s book Getting things Done.
Managing and controlling your biological brain. We all have a great resource for thinking, decision-making, and perceiving the world. We also have to change and control our thoughts, values, biases, and perceptions here. Our biological brain allows us to reframe our thoughts, so we respond differently and change our mindset to a growth mindset.
Managing your digital brain. We all need a digital brain to store and retrieve ideas, notes, pictures and documents that we accumulate throughout our lives. Tiago Forte teaches a course on this called Building A Second brain.
Information for your future you
I have only touched on a few of the obvious kinds of information to keep for your future self above. What you save is up to you. There is no limit. Some other ideas are photos organized by trips. Don’t get down the road and have a file of over 3000 photos that you haven’t organized, because it is too late by then. You may also want to save URLs to your favorite you-Tube videos, music artists, or artworks. It really is up to your imagination.
Using your digital devices.
Because of the information quantities that you will save over your lifetime (I have over 6700 notes in one place, almost 253 book notes in another, and notes from countless articles) you need to have a system of storage and retrieval for this information. It is not enough to save it; you must be able to retrieve it when you want it.
When to start?
The best time to start is on your first day of college. The second-best time is now! Think of the relief of knowing that you can find anything you want whenever you want from your digital brain. you will automate most of the work. You read something and highlight the portions you want to keep and then they automatically appear in your digital brain.
What to keep?
I have touched on a few of the things that you might want to keep throughout this piece. A few more that come to mind are letters of reference, job applications, research notes for your thesis, etc. As writer I keep copies of everything I write and so might you.
Conclusion and next steps.
I hope I have convinced you that saving your information will be useful and that the chaos method is not a good idea. Since you are all more computer literate than I was when I started college, it should be easy to use your computers to save your knowledge for your future self. In my next several posts I will walk you through the process for setting up your system, capturing and storing the information you want to save, discuss the best applications to use depending on what you think your future self will want, workflows, and retrieval of information.
After we complete this series, then I will do a few zoom sessions to answer questions you might have and go more into the implementation.
In the meantime, send any questions you have to email@example.com or go subscribe to my blog and newsletter.
“Without an efficient knowledge management model in place, information that is critical to the current, ongoing, and future success of the supply chain may be jeopardized. In short, knowledge management is retrieving the right information, for the right people, at the right time.”–John Yuva.