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Tiago Forte – Building A Second Brain V3 (Updated Content)
Tiago Forte – Building A Second Brain V3 (Updated Content)
Do you consume tons of interesting information, but feel like it’s not leading to meaningful results in your life?
Discover how having a Second Brain is helping people around the world save their best ideas, organize their learning, and dramatically expand their creative output
Who this course is for
Do you have trouble managing all the information you need to run your business?
Do you lose track of your ideas or struggle to organize all the material you need for your creative projects?
Do you wonder how to save all the knowledge you’ve gained and find it when you need it?
The Promise of the Course
In 30 days, you will learn how to capture, organize, and share your ideas and insights using digital notes, with a systematic approach and tools that you trust to support creative breakthroughs in your work
People from every profession and industry
are successfully Building a Second Brain
I love how you think about all this stuff and how you’ve been putting it together.”
“…what’s fascinating to me is that there haven’t been a lot of people, and it’s why I wanted to grab you for this conversation, there haven’t been a lot of people that I’ve run across who caught sort of the subtlety of the art of work. That people just work, but they don’t realize that it’s an art form…I love how you think about all this stuff and how you’ve been putting it together.”
–From an interview with Tiago Forte on the GTD In Conversation podcast
“Not only did I learn how to build a system to organize my sources and notes, but I also learned a technique to process this information to keep it alive.”
“Building a Second Brain was just the class I was looking for to help me take my work in education philanthropy to the next level. Not only did I learn how to build a system to organize my sources and notes, but I also learned a technique to process this information to keep it alive. Now I know how to add value by growing the resources I collect into actionable ideas to take back out into the field.”
“I am being challenged to apply the material in real-life situations that I would never have considered.”
“I’m impressed how much more nuance there is to seemingly simple techniques such as progressive summarization that I though I understood already. And I love that in the individual coaching sessions I am being challenged to apply the material in real-life situations that I would never have considered.”
I love how all of the information and lectures have remained up so I can always go back if I need help or want to re-visit a certain topic.”
“I am finding this course extremely beneficial and have actively taken a step back from my current projects to re-evaluate how I pretty much do everything (in a good way!!!). If anything, the course might be moving a little too fast as I am still finding flaws in my own unique approach (based off the teachings) to PKM and trying to address them while we are moving to the next phases of this course. But, I love how all of the information and lectures have remained up so I can always go back if I need help or want to re-visit a certain topic.”
“Take this course to start to feel agency in the world of infinite information and filter failure!”
“In the two months since starting, I’ve produced three blog posts, planned three backpacking trips, decluttered my room, created an enterprise workshop, and got admitted into a developer conference. All using the *SAME* system! I’m living the PARA lifestyle now, and I’m never going back. This way lies not just productivity, but happiness and ease of mind…I started with no experience with GTD. I didn’t understand constraints. I never used a note-taking tool…Take this course to start to feel agency in the world of infinite information and filter failure!”
“The value to my business is significant; the value to me personally – immeasurable.”
“Building a Second Brain has transformed my relationship to, and understanding of, personal knowledge capture and retention. The value to my business is significant; the value to me personally – immeasurable.”
Tiago Forte is an internationally recognized speaker, productivity expert, founder of education company Forte Labs, and editor-in-chief of the Praxis blog.
Tiago has spent more than 10 years researching, developing, and teaching the practices of Idea Management to professionals from some of the world’s leading organizations. His work has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Inc., The Atlantic, Quartz, and CB Insights.
Tiago’s mission is to help people harness the full potential of their ideas, because he believes that enabling smart people to turn their ideas into reality is the most positive impact he can have on the world
A unified curriculum on harnessing the full power of your ideas
Unit 1: Introduction to the Course
• What to expect: schedule, roadmap, communications, and the 3 pillars of the methodology
• Why organization and collaboration are the two missing links in most people’s creative process – and how adding them in can double your creative output
• Idea Management: the new path to produce 10x results with 1/10 the effort
• The secret of Strategic Laziness: the real story of how great thinkers work
• Take an 11-point quiz to score your current note-taking skills
Unit 2: Organizing for Insight
• How to turn your digital notes into “thinking tools” that allow you to access brainpower you didn’t even know you had
• Feeling unorganized? How a simple technique called PARA will enable you to organize your entire digital life in minutes
• The 8 must-haves for any digital organizing system, and how to apply them
• A little-known distinction – between micro-projects and areas of responsibility – that can completely revolutionize your productivity
• Banish Information Overload using the Magic Number 4 – a helpful constraint to preserve your working memory
• Discover the incredible power of an up-to-date Project List, with in-depth feedback and guidance on how to create one for yourself
Unit 3: Digital Cognition
• The 4 essential requirements that any good digital notes app MUST have
• How to amplify the single biggest opportunity for making new connections without spending more time or effort: Productive Randomness
• Learn how a simple principle from Information Science called “stigmergy” explains how to effectively manage information
• A new way of working using “slow burns” instead of grueling slogs – people who miss this are doomed to suffer from Information Exhaustion
• What the Feynman Method can teach us about “punching above our intellectual weight”
• Find out how the best note-takers throughout history built up their intellectual capital using compounding gains
• Transform raw material into knowledge ammunition: how to use digital notes to form a valuable body of knowledge for a side project, career advancement, or new business
• Identify your personal learning priorities using the Feynman Method, a simple exercise created by a Nobel prize-winning scientist to permanently improve your reading and learning for years to come
Unit 4: Progressive Summarization
• Have trouble finding your notes when you need them most? A counter-intuitive technique called Progressive Summarization will help you distill them down for easy retrieval
• Understand the pros and cons of organizing your notes by tag, by notebook, or by project, and the best approach based on our 10 years’ of experience
• Don’t have time for more research? Develop the skill of balancing compression and context to increase the return-on-investment of your note taking
• Strategic laziness over rigid rules: note-taking strategies that leverage human nature, instead of fighting it
• How to design individual notes for “glanceability” and instant recognition for your Future Self
• The amazing benefits of designing your own Personal Information Landscape
• Practice Progressive Summarization on your own notes, with feedback from instructors and peers
Unit 5: Maximizing Return-on-Attention
• Explore the fascinating science behind “transient hypofrontality”: how to maximize the mental state of flow for higher performance, enjoyment, and learning
• Understanding how to minimize the impact of setup costs (environmental, mental, and emotional) on productivity
• How Intermediate Packets can completely transform your approach to productivity
• Become interruption-proof: placeholding, chunking, and reusability as potent sources of leverage for knowledge workers
• Knowledge Artifacts: how to externalize your thinking and accelerate your learning using concrete deliverables
• Turn your notes into a new Knowledge Artifact especially designed to generate valuable, targeted feedback from your peers
Unit 6: Just-In-Time Productivity
• Learn Just-In-Time Productivity – the new, far more effective way of working that becomes possible once you have a Second Brain
• 5 ways to leverage your ideas to leapfrog your peers, skip the corporate ladder, and become a leader in your field
• Divergence and Convergence: use groundbreaking ideas from the world’s top designers to escape any creative roadblock or dead-end
• Equip yourself with 16 Workflow Strategies – proven thinking tools
• Banish procrastination forever using the Archipelago of Ideas technique to instantly add structure to any creative project
• Learn a new way of adding structuring to your ideas just-in-time, to produce results quickly, efficiently, and right when they’re most needed
• How to massively accelerate your learning using idea capture tools and quick feedback loops
• Select and try out 3 of the 16 Workflow Strategies on one or more of your projects or deliverables
Unit 7: Workflow Canvas
• Step-by-step walkthrough to design your very own Second Brain, customized to your needs and goals
• Get feedback on further areas for improvement, based on the exercises you completed in the course
• Explore dozens of examples, case studies, and downloadable templates to make implementing this system as easy as possible
• Complete the Workflow Canvas to choose the tools, techniques, and strategies to integrate into your own workflow
Unit 8: The Big Picture
• Information Overload? How Container vs. Stream Thinking is the mindset you need to thrive in a world of information abundance
• Understand how to cultivate situational awareness and curation as the key skills required to navigate streams of information
• Strengthen your creative confidence by borrowing principles from history’s most prolific creators and artists
• Identifying and overcoming the most common limiting beliefs we encounter around productivity, thinking, and learning
• The Perspective Era – why the future of work will be dedicated to interpretation and persuasion based on your unique point of view, and what you can do to prepare
• Start with Abundance: a different take on creative output that starts with sifting through interesting ideas, instead of sitting down to a blank screen
• Harnessing the full potential of digital notes: how to integrate Idea Management into your daily routine
• The coming era of Idea Management, and how to prepare yourself to thrive within it
Frequently Asked Questions
Everything you need to know before enrolling
What is this course about?
Building a Second Brain is about organizing your ideas, not as an end in itself, but to support creative work and give you the confidence to tackle more ambitious, more fulfilling projects. It is about fully harnessing the potential of your ideas, so they stick and translate to meaningful results in your life. Instead of being “interesting insights” that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Instead of talking about abstract concepts, I’ll show you a practical approach you can implement step by step, while also explaining the underlying principles that can be applied across your digital life.
The promise of the course is that “You will learn how to capture, organize, and share your ideas and insights using digital notes, with a systematic approach that you trust to support creative breakthroughs in your work.”
Are there any prerequisites for this course?
Although there are no official prerequisites, I expect you to be reasonably fluent in using computers, and for the examples, you’ll need to know the basics of how to use Evernote.
I recommend Evernote’s free Quick Start guide for a brief introduction to the program.
I’m not an entrepreneur, freelancer, or executive – is this course right for me?
The silos that once separated these categories are breaking down. We are all a startup of one now.
Even the largest companies are looking for “intrapreneurs” who can lead “internal startups.” Even the most secure employees need to develop a body of knowledge to leverage for their next career move. And it never hurts to have a side project or extra income stream in these uncertain times.
In Building a Second Brain, we’ll be diving into how to create a trusted system for collecting and organizing all the best ideas, insights, facts, quotes, and research you encounter. A system that has been tested by some of the top productivity experts in the world, and adopted by more than a thousand students. A system that just works.
I can’t think of a better way to jumpstart an early-stage career than starting a collection of notes that compounds and grows over time. Just like financial investing, investing in your knowledge benefits tremendously from starting early.
Not to mention, you’ll be learning alongside standout performers in the world’s most ambitious and interesting fields.
I’m an experienced researcher, businessperson, or content creator – do I have anything to learn here?
I’ve found that people who “manage ideas” for a living have some of the most profound breakthroughs from taking this course. Partly because we are shedding light on assumptions and habits that they have never thought to question. Equally important, they often find helping fellow learners understand idea management principles gives clarity to their own work. That’s why social learning works!
Idea management is a very new field, and there is no other program out there that addresses it as comprehensively as this one. My life’s work has been tracing the deepest underlying principles all the way to the most practical applications, and training people in how to master both ends of the spectrum.
What kinds of results do people achieve after learning this system?
Graduates of this course walk away with a wide variety of benefits, from reduced stress and indecision to dramatically higher levels of creative confidence and reaching goals they never thought possible. But I’ll let them speak for themselves.
How is this different than GTD (Getting Things Done)?
GTD is a productivity method created by David Allen, and popularized in his best-selling book Getting Things Done. In my first online course, Get Stuff Done Like a Boss, I teach students how to implement this method, and it’s been a big influence on me and my work.
Building a Second Brain builds on and extends the GTD philosophy to encompass not just tasks, but all the other kinds of digital information you have to keep track of: the notes, files, bookmarks, photos, quotes, and research you use to do your work. It follows the same principle – keeping everything in a trusted place outside your head – but applied to a much broader range of material.
Although the courses are related, it isn’t necessary to take Get Stuff Done Like a Boss before Building a Second Brain. They address different subjects and each stands on its own.
Here’s a more comprehensive article that explains how the two methods are related: Getting Things Done + Personal Knowledge Management.
Why haven’t I heard of this before?
We get this one a lot.
One reason is that we’re relatively new – the first cohort launched in January 2017, and we recently reached the 1,000 student milestone. We’re working hard to get the word out, but just getting started!
The second reason is that, until recently, the practice of idea management was limited to academics and researchers. Fields such as Personal Information Management (PIM), Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), and Digital Asset Management (DAM) have been around for decades, but haven’t really been accessible to the rest of us.
In creating this course, I read countless academic papers and research reports, so you don’t have to. I borrowed the very best techniques and principles from these disciplines, and combined them into an integrated system designed for knowledge workers to use day to day.
Which kind of software do you recommend?
Although the examples I show are for the popular digital notes app Evernote, all of the methods I teach can be implemented in virtually any software. Past students have built their Second Brain in such apps as Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, Apple Notes, Bear, Notion, Milanote, Arena, Emacs, and many others.
Don’t worry! I have recommendations for which of these is right for you, plus a dedicated thread for each of them where current users talk about their experience and answer questions.
I do have one strong recommendation: that you stick to the category of “digital notes” apps for your Second Brain. For more details on why, read my article The Case for Digital Notes.
What if I don’t use Evernote?
None of the foundational concepts I’ll be teaching you depend on Evernote or any other particular program to work. I’ll be using Evernote as an example, to be able to show you a real working system, instead of speaking in generalities.
But please note that all the examples, case studies, and templates are exclusively in Evernote, and we cannot officially support any other program you decide to use.
How much time will this take?
The course is designed to take 30 days from beginning to end. Although you’ll have access to the complete curriculum from Day 1, and could thus take it much faster, it’s hard to integrate new habits that quickly. On the other hand, taking more than 30 days generally means you’re getting bogged down with small details.
The goal is not to implement everything perfectly from the outset, but to have a basic working system that you can start using in your day to day work. This is one reason you have lifetime access to the curriculum: every time you revisit it, you’ll learn something different.
Each of the 8 lecture videos will take approximately 15–25 minutes to watch, and the walkthrough videos another 1-2 hours in total. The time required for the exercises, discussions in the online forum, and supplementary material depend on how fast you move and how deep you want to go. But I would set aside about 8 hours total, or about 2 hours per week. So a conservative estimate is about 14 hours total for the course, or 3.5 hours per week for 4 weeks.
The amount of time needed for implementation varies a lot, but it is something that should be done initially during the course, and then improved slowly over time and in the flow of daily work.
Do I have time for this?
The better question is, “Do you have time NOT to learn it?”
The average person consumes 34 gigabytes worth of data every day, the equivalent of 174 newspapers. We are spending more than 11 hours per day – or two-thirds of our waking hours – consuming media in some form.
Can you afford to spend so much of your time consuming information without preserving it in any form?
And the truth is, we have plenty of time if we use it intentionally.
The average Instagram user spends nearly 150 hours per year posting and scrolling through pictures – the equivalent of three full work weeks. The average knowledge worker spends 30% of their workday – equivalent to one and a half out of five days per workweek – searching for information.
In this course, I’ll teach you how to redirect that wasted time into more productive, more fulfilling, and more strategic uses. You’ll see that you’re already doing 99% of the work reading, consuming, and reflecting on new ideas. All you need to do is change how you spend the last 1% of your time to curate and collect only the very best of them.
How many blog posts and podcasts do you consume each week? How much have you learned and not put into action? How much time do you waste searching for notes or quotes? Let’s turn that wasted energy into knowledge capital.
It took me more than 10 years of painstaking trial and error to develop this methodology, and another several years to translate it into an effective training program. In this course I distill the very best of what I’ve discovered into a convenient, 4-week program so you can learn it in a tiny fraction of the time.
What is the difference between the Standard and Premium editions?
As of version 9, the two editions of Building a Second Brain include the following:
Standard Edition ($799):
• Comprehensive self-paced curriculum
• Lifetime access to 4-week live cohorts taught by Tiago Forte 3-4 times per year
• 8 units of pre-recorded videos
• 10 step-by-step walkthrough videos
• Student-only online discussion forum
• Downloadable PDF slides
• 4 in-depth case studies
Premium Edition ($1,199):
Everything included in the Standard Edition, plus:
• 6 advanced tutorials
• 6 exclusive expert interviews
• 16 pre-formatted note templates
• 3-month subscription to the Praxis blog
Peer discussion and instructor support happens through the online discussion forum and the Slack channel. The live cohorts include real-time coaching via Zoom calls, and purchasers of both editions are free to join any future cohort. Both editions include lifetime access to future versions of that edition, which you will be automatically notified about via email.
You can upgrade from the Standard Edition to the Premium Edition at a later time for $499.
Why is it so expensive?
Building a Second Brain isn’t like other online courses.
It isn’t a one-time project I completed years ago, that lingers online like a half-dead zombie, pouncing on unsuspecting visitors. It is my life’s work, not just up until the present moment, but for the foreseeable future.
About once per quarter I publish a new batch of improvements and updates. You can see the full history of these updates here. These aren’t just “fixes” to bring the content up to date. I regularly launch whole new modules, case studies, tutorials, interviews, and other resources, all of which are available to all past and future students.
I think of Building a Second Brain as a community of lifetime learners that I support on an ongoing basis. And you get permanent access to that community for a one-time payment!
The pricing allows me to continue to dedicate the effort required to refine and improve the course. It also ensures that everyone who enrolls is fully committed to doing the work required to benefit fully from it.
I charge between $15,000–$25,000 to deliver this material live in corporate trainings. Using online platforms, I’m able to reach a far more diverse audience at a fraction of the price.
How is Building a Second Brain different from other methodologies?
Here are some of the main differences between the Building a Second Brain methodology and other approaches to productivity, organizing, and learning.
This isn’t yet another method for “how to be successful.”
It is the method that prepares you to benefit from all those other methods – how to gather and organize the knowledge you acquire from all the other sources you have access to.
This isn’t a monolithic system that you have to implement perfectly to get any value from.
Applying even one or two of the methods taught can revolutionize your productivity and learning.
This method doesn’t assume you have any particular pre-existing knowledge or skills.
It only requires you to have the most basic familiarity with how to use a computer.
This method doesn’t force you into a one-size-fits-all box.
It equips you to develop a system adapted to your specific needs and goals.
This method isn’t abstract and theoretical.
It was developed in the trenches of running a real business, not in a laboratory or classroom, which means it is highly practical and useful in the real world.
This method isn’t a random collection of disconnected “tips and tricks.”
It is a holistic system that works in an integrated way to capture, organize, and share your ideas.
This method doesn’t exhort you to work even harder and do even more.
It teaches you how to do more with less, how to use the sources of leverage available to you, and to offload as much effort as possible to computers.
This method isn’t about optimizing or perfecting yourself.
It’s about optimizing an external system so you are free to imagine, create, and simply relax.
This method doesn’t condemn technology and the Internet.
It teaches a balanced approach to using these amazing tools to enhance creative work, without getting distracted.
This method isn’t about forcing you to work in a certain way.
It’s about providing a support system so you can create value no matter how you decide to work, and a safety net so you have the confidence that no detail is falling through the cracks.
The Building a Second Brain method combines practical technology skills with the bigger picture of how and why idea management can transform your career, your business, and your life. This course focuses on practical skills, but doesn’t stop there: it also cultivates the deeper mindset and the paradigm shifts necessary to thrive in an age of information abundance.
Can the methods you teach be implemented piecemeal, or do they all build on each other?
The honest answer is: both.
Each and every technique I teach in the course is valuable and effective on its own. Many students report that adopting just one of them completely revolutionizes their ability to manage their digital life. You can implement them in any order, a little bit at a time, and you don’t have to “launch” the entire system all at once for it to be valuable.
At the same time, all the methods DO link together to form an integrated system, which I call your “Second Brain.” This isn’t just a random collection of tips and tricks. I’ve carefully chosen each of the three main techniques to target a key leverage point in the flow of information through your life.
My goal is to help you get your Second Brain to a minimum level of functionality by the time the course ends. Once it is set up and working in your daily life, you’ll notice a constant stream of new insights about how to use it. The system then becomes self-improving, since you can document ways to improve your Second Brain in your Second Brain!
I’ve signed up for online courses in the past and had mixed results… how will this course be different?
This is my favorite question.
I’m an online course junkie myself. I’ve spent many thousands of dollars on various courses, webinars, ebooks, and downloads, and had a hard time benefitting from many of them.
I designed Building a Second Brain to address the pitfalls and weaknesses that I observed from existing products:
We focus on implementing a working system, rather than just learning interesting concepts
I show live walkthrough videos of me actually completing each step, rather than assuming you’ll be able to figure it out on your own
The online community is a core part of the experience, not a sideshow where no one engages
Each assignment is part of the implementation process, rather than an academic exercise
Instead of telling you all the possible ways of organizing your notes, and leaving you to choose one on your own, I advocate for the best way, based on my experience and research
I use real-world examples and case studies, rather than making up ideal scenarios
I give you the option to complete the course self-paced, or as part of a live cohort, or both
The core curriculum presents a standardized system you can copy directly, while the online forum contains numerous alternative examples
And if this approach doesn’t work for you, I offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. The last thing I ever want to do is keep an unhappy customer’s money.
What happens in the live cohorts?
Approximately 3-4 times per year, we facilitate a “live cohort” of the course for all current and past students.
These will often be “special editions” of the course, focusing for example on writers, entrepreneurs, students, or special use cases such as public speaking, travel, organizing photos, or creating online content.
All previous students will automatically be invited to join future live cohorts, as long as they remain subscribed to the graduate email list.
Each live cohort takes place over 4 weeks, in 90-minute live sessions delivered via the Zoom videoconference app. During these 4 weeks, office hours are conducted weekly using the messaging app Slack. Each of these live sessions is recorded and uploaded to the Media Library shortly after it finishes, in case you can’t attend live or want to review them later. Pre-recorded lectures are assigned before each live session for watching on your own time, and the call itself is relatively flexible depending on the needs of the group.
We usually discuss students’ current challenges, have small group discussions via breakout rooms, and share relevant examples and resources. These may include presentations of supplementary material, my ongoing research and learnings, or new case studies.
How much access do I get to Tiago?
Although I can’t promise a personal reply to each and every message, I frequently check in to the onl
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