My Path to Personal Knowledge Management: A Personal Journey

I’d like to share a journey with you, a personal voyage I embarked upon over a decade ago. This journey of self-discovery lead to the development of my current Personal Knowledge Management system.

My Path to Personal Knowledge Management: A Personal Journey

Hello friend! Today I’d like to share a journey with you, a personal voyage I embarked upon over a decade ago. It all started during a difficult family vacation that served as a significant wake-up call for me. I realized I was the source of not only my own unhappiness but also my family’s. Caught in a loop of trivial upsets and an overwhelming need to always be right, I understood something needed to change.

During that period of self-reflection, my morning walks with my dog, Cookie, began. These peaceful strolls became the perfect backdrop for listening to audiobooks, providing me the space to reflect and think about my life. But after consuming many audiobooks, I noticed a disconnect. I was soaking in a wealth of information, but what was I genuinely learning? How was I applying this newfound knowledge to my life?

This dilemma led me to the Feynman Technique, a method that compelled me to summarize or share what I had learned. This was a significant shift. If you can break down complex ideas as if explaining them to a 12-year-old, it helps solidify your understanding, making the knowledge genuinely yours.

But here’s where I hit another snag: my notetaking was in chaos. I was using Evernote, which turned into a dumping ground for every idea, quote, or book summary I encountered. The lack of organization made it burdensome to revisit my notes, thereby making the process of learning and reflecting less efficient and enjoyable.

In search of a more streamlined system, I found a book that reshaped my approach — “Taking Smarter Notes” by Sönke Ahrens. The book introduced me to Nicholas Lumen's system of taking notes, emphasizing one idea per note and linking related notes together. This method led me to new tools like Roam Research and Obsidian, which enabled me to establish a more organized, interconnected, and easily navigable system of notes.

But what’s knowledge without application? Another vital takeaway was focusing on the main lesson from each book or lecture. It’s easy to rush from one book to the next, but taking a moment to ask, “What’s my one takeaway from this?” made a world of difference. This simple question ensured that I was not just passively consuming information but actively integrating valuable insights into my life.

Looking back at this journey, I am reminded of an analogy by James Clear. He compared human progress to melting an ice cube. In a room where the temperature is 25 degrees, raising the temperature by one degree seems to do nothing. But eventually, as you persist in raising the temperature a degree at time you hit 32 degrees and suddenly, the ice melts. Small consistent changes can have the profound impact. It's not about grand gestures or overnight success but the cumulative effect of small, positive shifts in our behavior and mindset.

This path led me to personal knowledge management, a way of organizing my life to free up my mind and reduce stress. It’s been an invaluable journey of learning not just how to collect information but also how to understand, retain, and apply this knowledge to enhance my life.

In sharing my story with you in the hope it serves as a gentle nudge.  You have within you the power to instigate change and continual learning.   I encourage you to explore these ideas for yourself. Test them out and observe how they can fit into your own journey of personal development and lifelong learning. I read once that achievement started out as an idea.  Finding better ways to work with ideas, can help you know faster, so you can do better sooner.

Cheers to your journey and the fantastic growth and learning that await you!