Knowledge Management: They Come In Shoals

Good news: I have found a good system of managing and archiving my knowledge. My remembrance structure has improved insanely these last couple of months. Unexpectedly, the more my flow improved, the less I took notes – these days, I directly write everything into the working file, and only open my notebook when I take meeting notes (I forget everything immediately if I don’t do that) or when I add to my Glossary. I’ve also recently taken the long-time-coming leap to declutter and reboot my Zotero for the literature and citations part of it all – I am in love with the browser extension and I can’t believe I haven’t been using it all this time.

I think everything is going great because I’ve stopped reading what’s not in my focus, and have developed a clearer aim (for now). Since the best way for me to remember is to integrate things into a work in progess, I find myself having fallen into a wave-like rhythm that works, as far as I can tell at this point:

I write, and as I write, I find myself getting stuck, I find gaps and missing knowledge, or stumble across new words in a meeting. I then go on excessive multiple-tab literature/article/discussion searching frenzies, until I get the feeling that I’ve gotten an overview and I’m just coming back to the same stuff. I then open the Download Folder Of Doom, and scan all the abstracts, and then put some in a folder called unread unused and proceed to print the others.

Then I do only reading for a while, and highlight bits and scribble notes on the side (sometimes a couple go to the unread unused after a first scan). I half-forget this enormous wave of information and let the subconscious do its work. After a day or two, I sit down and Zotero it all with my bae browser extension, and write a very rough summary of the main points/notes/commentary directly into my overleaf file, which I also copy into the respective Zotero notes. Finally, I insert all the bibtex snippets into my overleaf project.

Then, it’s back to writing – figuring out where the snippets go, polishing, splitting up, deleting. And then, back to writing freely until I get stuck once more… I find this chunking into different waves of doing only 1 thing works very well for me. I previously tried to do it all at the same time but found that interrupting one thing with another really messed up my concentration, and I’m very happy I’ve finally found something that works. I am still unable to write if I have other tasks or imminent holes in the day, but I’ll figure that one out in time, I hope.

The learnings so far:

  • Putting in prep work and creating a good strucure to work in is so insanely important and the later I do it, the more time I waste
  • I have to try my share of tips from other people to find out what works for me and what doesn’t, not every established workflow is my style
  • I need a goal/aim/outcome plan for everything I do, otherwise it’s wasted time (even if this outcome is just to summarize for future use)

As I write these lines, I enjoy a coffee with a piece of banana bread with chocolate chunks that I made yesterday but which already has gone stale due to being fridged.