When to Use Your First Brain

Memory is fleeting or so we are told.  Everyone has had the experience of forgetting something important.  Both David Allen and Tiago Forte have written about the importance of not relying on your brain to remember information, but instead to put the data into a trusted system.  This process is at the core of most productivity advice.

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However, are their times when we should rely on our biological memory over a database or electronic “second brain”?  In a guest post on Tiago Forte’s Praxis blog, Tasshin Fogleman, a Buddhist monk, argues the value of memorization has great merit in this electronic age.  He writes:

Building A Second Brain (BASB) is an effective default for personal knowledge management (PKM) in the digital era. But outsourcing our creative thinking to a second brain has its pitfalls.

A robust memory can be a useful supplement to digital PKM systems. Contrary to Tiago’s assumptions, memory is not a useless, outmoded relic of our biological bodies. It is an astonishing skill, and we would be unwise to overlook it.”

Fogleman proceeds to share several methods to improve our memory, including Spaced Repetition, Mind Palaces, the Mindful Review, and more.  Read all about them in his guest post.

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Library Leadership Podcast

I am an avid podcast listener.  My iPhone has over a half dozen different shows in cue for listening throughout the week during the commute.  However, it had been a long time since I had been interviewed for one.  That changed last week when I was contacted to be a guest on a podcast that is now on my playlist.  It is the Library Leadership Podcast.  If you work in libraries I advise that you add it to your list as well.

Hosted by Adriane Herrick Juarez, the Executive Director of the Park City Library in Utah, she invites notable library leaders on to her show to discuss a wide range of topics.  Some of her guests, Lance Warner, Felton Thomas, Peter Bromberg,  participated in my recent article Go For It! Advice From Library Directors.  She has also interviewed two ALA Presidents, Jim Neal and Loida Garcia-Febo.

Adriane is interviewing me at the end of the month, so I’ll keep you posted on when that episode becomes available.  In the meantime, go ahead and catch up on past episodes of Library Leadership Podcast.

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2nd Brain Paradigm Shifts

Have you shifted a paradigm recently?

Paradigms are philosophical and theoretical frameworks that we all employ in our minds to help us navigate the world.  Whenever someone experiences a radical change in perspective, we tend to say that they underwent a paradigm shift.

Tiago Forte believes that to succeed in our information abundant world, we need to undergo a set a paradigm shifts regarding how we understand and work with knowledge.  In a recent post on his blog, he explores a new way to think about the purpose of his course, Building a Second Brain:

“This may sound strange, but I increasingly believe that the purpose of this course is not to give students new ideas. It’s not even to give them useful techniques. Endless ideas and techniques are already out there for the taking. No, the purpose of this course is to take people through a series of personal paradigm shifts in their relationship to technology, knowledge, and the new world that is evolving ever faster.”

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Tiago believe the course allows for at least twenty paradigm shifts!  Have you gone through any of them yet?

Procrastination Isn’t About Laziness

Hands up if you have procrastinated?  Everyone has put off doing something in their lives, whether it is cleaning a closet, finishing a project, or just doing the laundry.  The default view of procrastination has equated it to laziness, basically an assumption that putting things off is a kind of character weakness.  However, is it true?

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A powerful article in the New York Times recently gave me a new perspective on this topic.  Author in her piece Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control), argues based on the scientific evidence that people procrastinate due to the powerful effect of negative emotions.

“Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond. …

“In a 2013 study, Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois found that procrastination can be understood as ‘the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.’ Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on ‘the immediate urgency of managing negative moods’ than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.”

Read the rest of this fascinating article now – don’t put it off a moment longer!

 

What Does the Science Say?

There are many methods and techniques to become organized at home and work.  The list is long and includes GTD, Building a Second Brain, KonMari, and many others.  However, have you ever thought that the gains made by these approaches are only illusionary?   Perhaps they are all simply feel-good methods that work for a short time and then fade away?  In short, is there any science to back up the claims of these systems?

In a blog post on the revamped Getting Things Done web site, David Allen provides a brief overview to explain why methods like GTD have an impact that relates directly to cognitive science.

“Recent cognitive science research shows that the number of things you can mentally prioritize, manage, retain, and recall is . . . (hold on) . . . four! If you park any more than that in your head, you will sub-optimize your cognitive functioning. You will be driven by whatever is latest and loudest—rather than by strategy, intuition, or objective assessment.”

Read the rest of David’s thoughts along with his book suggestions on the Getting Things Done blog.David-Allen-GTD

Go For It! Advice from Public Library Directors

“WHAT DO LIBRARY DIRECTORS DO? The answer to this question may seem self-evident, but it is actually a lot more complicated than it first appears.”

public-lib-coverI’m happy to share that Public Libraries Magazine has published my newest article titled, Go For It! Advice from Library DirectorsFor over a year’s time I interviewed 50 public library leaders to learn more about how they interpret their job and to solicit their insights. This diverse group of directors shared their thoughts on challenges, trends, what they wish they had known before starting as a director, and advice for aspiring directors.

Here are samples of their wisdom for those considering a career in library directorship:

“This is an exciting job, no two days are the same. You must like change and have agility to go with the flow of any given day. ”

“New directors need to come in and take risks. Don’t be afraid to make changes and do new things.”

“Kindness and coming from a place of love are critical. A director should be courageous enough to fail and willing to accept that failure and grow from that.”

“Don’t be afraid to challenge assumptions. Explore and push the boundaries about what a public library can do.”

“If you have any inclination, you should state it with confidence by talking to as many directors as possible and get as much advice as you can. There are very few failures, but there are some great people who never launch because they didn’t put themselves out there.”

I want to thank all 50 directors who participated in the interviews and send a special thank you to editor Kathleen Hughes for accepting my third article for publication.  The full article is now available online at Public Libraries magazine.

Can a Second Brain be Built in a Day?

basbWe all know that Rome was not built in a day, but can a second brain be built in a seven hour workshop?

On Tuesday May 21, Tiago and Lauren from Forte Labs came to the Palm Beach County Library System to lead their signature course Building a Second Brain (BASB) for thirty five library staff.  Participants were recruited from across the library system, with many members coming from the Productivity Committee and the User Experience (UX) Committee.  All of them were excited about the benefits an electronic second brain had to offer.  Prior to the workshop, participants had a homework assignment to identify their “12 Favorite Problems” and to start capturing electronic items, such as articles, photos, news clips, etc.,  in Microsoft OneNote.  They also had access to an online version of BASB specially designed for the library staff.

At the start, the BASB workshop laid out the core tenants of the second brain philosophy: Capture, Connect, Create.  The morning was spent with a review of capture and then moved on to PARA which clarified the difference between projects, areas, resources, and archives.  Following lunch, the seminar moved to the theory and practice of Progressive Summarization.  Students then explored the concept of project packets that lead to the “Just In Time” project delivery system.  Finally, Tiago shared his view of the future of knowledge work in relation to personal knowledge management.

Library staff left the workshop energized and excited about the possibilities from mastering personal knowledge management.  So in the end, we learned that building a second brain is not a one time exercise, but an ongoing approach to curate the streams of information that flow around us.

Thank you Tiago and Lauren from all of us at PBCLS!

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