A $2000 PKM Victory

The Everyday, Practical Utility of Personal Knowledge Management

PKM stands for Personal Knowledge Management, a critical life skill taught in Tiago Forte’s online course, Building a Second Brain (BASB). In essence, PKM augments reality by making all the relevant knowledge you’ve accrued over your lifetime available for the task at hand. The way Tiago teaches it, you can cast a wide net for insight, reduce down to the most interesting options, and then rapidly execute on them — now or in the future.

There are certainly examples of how PKM can be used to enhance creative pursuits, but I’d like to share something a little more everyday... something that illustrates the extreme pragmatism of the method.

I’ll also preface this story by mentioning that I took BASB back in January and soon after found myself working for Tiago as his course manager. As I write this, we’re spinning up the next round of the course, which begins on November 6, 2017.

“Roland TD-30K, with hi-hat stand and double-pedal. Played with care. CAT NOT INCLUDED.”

I was ready to sell my electronic drum kit last December. I wasn’t playing as much as I wanted, and I was hoping to fund some international travel without upsetting my budget too much. After a first round of sales attempts, I ended up keeping it for practice with a local band I was spending time with.

To make a long story short, the kit itself stayed at a bandmate’s house long after we had stopped playing together as a group. Fast-forward to today, I get the call that it’s time to retrieve this fantastic bit of machinery and bring it back home. So I drive my spacious hatchback over, load it up, and head for home.

On the way back, I stop to get a sandwich at a GetGo (one of the many we have here in Pittsburgh). Having a moment to think, I realize how painful getting the drumkit into my apartment building is going to be (three sets of doors, stairs to deal with, and it’s raining… ugh). I really don’t want to go through all that if I’m just going to do this all over again to sell it in the near future.

In fact, I realize that if I unload the drumkit at home, I’ll be much less likely to follow through with selling it at all because of the time and effort required to find a buyer, schedule a meetup, load it back up, and so on. It will just take up space in my apartment, or worse — I might put it in storage. If my goal is turn this drumkit into cash, I’m becoming less and less likely to make that happen.

I begin wishing for a way to do something about this right now, when I already have the drumkit loaded in my car.

With half my sandwich finished, I suddenly remember that I’ve got this PKM thing at my fingertips. Back when I first took Building a Second Brain, I had organized all my old notes into Evernote with the P.A.R.A. method, so I might have something relevant there.

And of course, when I look, I find a project called “Sell the Drumset” in my Archives! I pull it up in the Evernote app on my phone, and see the below:

The project plan in my archived “Sell the Drumset” project.

This note was my project plan, with all the stores I contacted back in December in an attempt to sell the drumkit. It also served as an intermediate packet — something I could use to easily resume work on the project… a full 10 months later!

You can probably guess which of the above stores I called.

“Yeah, we’ll be here until 5:30pm. Bring the drum kit over and we’ll take a look.”

I finished my sandwich and drove straight to the store. And, after a full inspection of the equipment and a brief negotiation, I walked out with a $2000 check — a check I wasn’t likely to have received without the PKM skills I developed through Building a Second Brain.

Everyone has latent projects… things that get put to the side because of the busyness of life. PKM enables this kind of everyday victory by helping you get organized, store information in intermediate packets (for future use), and find exactly what you need when you need it, quickly.

Interested in learning the PKM methods that enable both creative breakthroughs and awesome everyday experiences? Check out Building a Second Brain, an online course by Tiago Forte, beginning November 6, 2017.