How I Reframed My Digital Life After Reading Building a Second Brain

Michelle Mac
5 min readOct 5, 2022

Building A Second Brain by Tiago Forte is an excellent distillation of the methodology of the same name.

This book is up there with Getting Things Done and How To Take Smart Notes for how transformative it was for me.

Here are the 4 ways this book reframed how I manage my digital life:

Way 1: I manage my digital data with projects, not topics

After resisting it for the longest time, I’ve finally embraced the PARA method for managing my digital data.

It didn’t click with me until I watched this video by vaexperience:

Watching that video prompted me to read Building A Second Brain in the first place which in turn led to me reorganizing how I manage my digital data.

One of the key principles of the PARA method is organizing your files based on projects instead of topics.

Instead of putting your notes on productivity together and your notes on design together, you group your notes based on the current logo design project you’re working on, or based on a trip you want to take.

This mindset shift has been completely transformative for me.

Because I now organize files based on what I’m working on instead of an abstract topic, I know immediately where to look for something. I also know where to store things without much extra brain power.

This has freed up a large chunk of mental space in my head which I can now use for thinking, writing, and creating. The important stuff!

I follow this practice with my note-taking tool (Obsidian), my digital file management (Google Drive), and the files on my work laptop.

Way 2: I created an archive

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Michelle Mac

The *heavily edited* ramblings of a technical writer & frontend dev. I write about creativity, design, and productivity. Start here: https://heymichellemac.com/