I’m often surprised when people find the idea of a “Second Brain” – a system of knowledge management that lives outside one’s head – to be fanciful or unrealistic.

When in fact, the practice of saving and storing important information in a trusted place is ubiquitous.

Professionals of all kinds have developed ways of documenting their ideas, insights, operational details, and lessons learned.

Here are examples of specific kinds of knowledge management tools used by various professions: 

  1. Songwriters keep hook books with musical passages that might make good hooks
  2. Comedians keep gag archives with material for future bits
  3. Natural dyers maintain dye journals with “dye recipes”
  4. Programmers keep code libraries with snippets, links, and examples of code that they’ve found useful in the past
  5. Theatre stage managers use prompt books to record the details of sets and the scenes that play out on them
  6. Fashion designers keep portfolios with their drawings and clothing designs
  7. Golfers keep yardage books with their notes on the golf courses they play so they know what to expect each time around that hole
  8. Lawyers keep case files (also known as “brief banks” or “motion banks”) with details from past cases they might want to refer to in the future
  9. Customer service representatives maintain personal knowledge bases with standard responses for common customer issues
  10. Entrepreneurs compile idea books with their business and product ideas
  11. Scientists and researchers use field notebooks to record their observations in the field
  12. Rappers have rhyme books with snippets of evocative lyrics
  13. Teachers keep lesson plan books for the next time they want to reuse a lesson
  14. Marketers and advertisers keep swipe files with examples of compelling ads
  15. Military officers use a little green notebook to take notes during briefings, log physical training scores, and keep track of inspections


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