Inspired by Ernest’s PKM, I wanted to examine my own learning system. Here is the visualization of my learning system.
Collect. I use different tools to collect content based on their format.
- Text, mostly I use Notion web clipper to save into Notion. I have a “Reading” database there. Sometimes, the content is saved as browser tabs or within app features, such as Facebook Saved. When this happens, it is usually saved for a sense of security. I seldom go back to read.
- Podcast, saved as a quote in Google Podcast because I use a Pixel phone.
- Video, saved on YouTube.
- Book, saved in Kindle.
- Course, saved in Notion.
- For physical content such as whiteboard drawings, I’ll take a picture.
My core tool is Notion. If I didn’t copy the URL or content from whatever type into Notion, it’s not in my second brain.
Consume. It’s about how long it takes.
Usually, I like to consume immediately. But if the time is not allowed, I’ll save it later and set a reminder on Notion or keep it open on my phone. I’ll find some time today to complete it, and I have a weekly routine of closing all the open tabs and clearing reminders.
However, if there are too many reminders, I usually do a few and discard the rest. Just forget about them. If that is important enough, it will come back later.
Memorize. The first step to learning something is to remember it.
When I copy and paste the content into my Notion, I’m attempting to remember it. There are many ways to remember things, some people prefer handwriting, reading it out loud, drawing something, or highlighting it. Just find out whatever serves you.
I also try to do indexing here. But I’m terrible at it. I’ll write some keywords or add tags to enhance my memory recall. I’m not sure why, but my keywords for the same topics change over time.
Thoughts. I try to react to the content I consume.
What parts do I agree or disagree with? What do I think? Usually, I’ll leave comments on my Notion privately. Sometimes tweet or reply to the author.
It forces me to think about the content, and at least when I try to think, it reinforces my memory.
Use / Talk. This is how I learn.
I discovered that I learn from conversations. I like to talk out loud with myself or with family members who may not understand what I’m discussing. It’s ok, but it’s not great for family relationships.
Then I found communities! Starting by joining some meetups, asking questions, and discussing with others who have the same passion. It helps a lot.
So I double down. In 2022, I participated in 115 chats, totaling 158 interactions including webinars. There are many ways to find someone to chat. Join the community, register for meetup, reply to someone’s blog, and reach out for a 20-minute chat.
The amazing thing nowadays is people are open to discussions. Some even open their calendars. Google for “cal.com office hour.” The challenge is whether you dare to book their time when they hold positions such as CEO, CTO, founder, or advisor.
Connect. Link what I learned to the things I learned.
When I do so, I feel I understand it. I call it “core.”
The issue is indexing. When I try to connect two pieces of information, if I cannot find the original content, my brain may make it up. I realize it until I get the original content. I haven’t figured out how to excel in this aspect.
Output. When I can explain it well and clearly, I know I have mastered it.
Usually, I write down to explain to myself, it’s more like ensuring I have an understanding.
Someone tells me Rubber Duck Debugging 🦆, to explain to someone who has no idea. This is something I am trying to improve. I feel like a mess in my mind and I’m bad at explaining it in simple words.
Publish. Show the output public.
So I publish my words. When I tweet my few comments and publish more completed thoughts, these are challenges to make me get clear.
It also benefits a lot. At least when I did wrong, I got feedback.
It’s a long funnel. You may notice the squares start large and end small. The things I can publish are a few I constantly thinking about and discussing.
Here are 6 ways of learning. You can change the numbers and you probably will still find one.
I accidentally realized that my learning style involves interacting with people. When talking to people, I need to be clear on what I’m saying. People ask me questions that help me gain new insights or identify gaps in my understanding.
Now, AI can be the “people.” AI is good at giving me feedback and helping me clarify what I say.
Feedback is a gift. I like to have feedback after things happen. I don’t mind people telling me what I was wrong. Yes, sometimes I feel frustrated. I know how to turn it into the power to make it better. If the intention is to make things better when people give me feedback, I don’t feel frustrated.
Retro. Re-examining how things happen usually helps. Many times I find out why and when things went wrong and how can I do better next time.
Find out your learning style can help you learn much better.
Motivation and Resources
My motivation usually comes from 2 categories.
- Jobs To Be Done.
JTBD is a stronger motivator than curiosity. But curiosity plays longer.
I don’t mind looking into simple Python code so I can try OpenAI API but I don’t understand each piece of the code. That’s why I’m not an engineer.
Motivation impacts resource allocation. When I want to get things done, I put on more time, sometimes more money due to urgency. My time allocation usually reflects my level of motivation. e.g. Things I put it on Hepta to think the connection must be something I value.
Learning takes time
You see the whole learning path. Though collecting daily, when it comes to use/talk, it takes weeks, months, and sometimes years.
When I learn, I’m alone in thinking in my brain, and with others on discussion. When I watch some inspiring movies, there are always a few seconds of time-lapse cutting from months of effort. When I look back, it feels like a few seconds indeed, just as this article can be read in 3 minutes. It took me many years to go so far.