nowledge management system, whether it is implemented in Notion, Obsidian, or Roam, is a trendy feature of 2021. Some people call it a second brain. Others prefer to name it a hub or a lab. It is in essence an organized collection of your data, information, or knowledge stored digitally.
There are so many different ways people collect and share their knowledge. For those who like systems and digital, these tools provide more than traditional ways of collecting and sharing information. These new tools give more control and flexibility for storing and sharing. Because of that concepts like second brain and knowledge management system appeared.
In this tutorial, I'll show what is a KMS, why storing knowledge is valuable and how to organize it with Notion.
Here's the link to the template and an article where I explain why I prefer my system over PARA for building a second brain.
This is my database of topics that I save information on.
## What is knowledge management and why Notion?
Humanity currently generates more information than ever before. Throughout a day you consume information than it was intended biologically. The human brain has not evolved yet to save so much data in it. Real estate there is limited and valuable. So remembering something like a URL or a reading list are not in priority at all. A solution is to outsource the information you don't need now in a system for convenient access later.
Before, the knowledge was passed through many different ways: books, education, parenting and so on. The development of the Internet and technologies made structured data more accessible. Tools like Notion or Obsidian provide means for creating a system to manage your knowledge, experience, and whatever you think is important.
Instead of written notes, bookmarks, files, and folders, you have the ability to centralize everything in one space and use it for your advantage.
There are more and more digital tools that help to solve this problem. You can implement it in any of them. However, since I have my productivity system in Notion, I also use it to structure my knowledge. I can link projects that I work on, ideas that I capture, and tasks that I assign to create a 3-dimensional system with lots of connections.
Most of my knowledge management system is resources, notes, screenshots, links, and references. It does not even take time to set it up. Each topic is a page. The only things required are making it a habit and maintaining from time to time.
If you are still not convinced that you'll benefit from a knowledge system, read the next chapter where I go one by one and give examples of how I use it and what problems it solves.
## What are the benefits of building a digital knowledge system?
Managing your knowledge systematically can bring a lot of value in the long run. The biggest value I had from my knowledge system is the condensed information on many different topics that I can use later. Overall, I've found 6 benefits that I'll talk about.
Here are several benefits of using a personal knowledge management system.
1. Build up knowledge and don't start from scratch.
2. Always find what you need.
3. Strengthen learning by capturing insights and useful stuff.
4. Reduce information overload.
5. Transform the knowledge into a book, article, or product.
### 1. Build up knowledge
My knowledge management system is the home of all research I do on the topics I find interesting. Later, I can use it as a base for an essay or continue to build on that knowledge. I do not start from scratch. This is the biggest motivator for me. To build a collection of well researched topics that you learn from is super valuable.
### 2. Always find what you need
You could say why don't you save all those references, articles, and insights in files and store them somewhere on a hard drive. I did all of that. It resulted in scattered information stored across different devices which are hard to navigate and find when you really need it.
Back in 2009-2014, during my bachelor's degree, I used pen and paper for lectures, notes, and coursework which are stored somewhere far away from me. It's difficult to access, search and use hundreds of handwritten pages. Now, when I study, I open the dedicated pages in Notion and save what I learn there. I always know where they are and how to find what I need.
### 3. Strengthen learning by capturing the insights and useful stuff
To retain more information from the books and articles I read, I highlight insights and save them in my knowledge system. For instance, Frederic's Laloux's Reinventing Organizations is full of insights for my Business, Psychology, Systems, and many other topics. By spending time and organizing the knowledge I gained, I can remember more of it and reference it in the future.
### 4. Reduce information overload
Scientific research says that [forgetting is actually good for memory](https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/why-forgetting-good-your-memory). In order to make more space for more valuable information, you can save things like links or lists of books in one place where you can always find them.
For instance, today I found two interesting books that I want to read. I saved the links in my Books database so that I can easily find them later when I want to read a new book. If I don't save it in my system, then most likely I won't remember where I found it, or the link to the book, or even the name when the time comes.
### 5. Transform knowledge into a book, article, or product
It's also a good base for creating a product, writing a book or a blog.
Software or product research for personal use can become a blog post. A template that worked for you may help others to solve their problem. Years of experience and captured knowledge can become a firm foundation for a book or a course.
These are different examples how one can monetize the expertise or even experience and knowledge. Rob Fitzpatrick based his book Write Useful Books on a collection of knowledge: insights, instructions, numbers. It became so popular among his friends who wanted to publish a book that he thought to write a book about it.
### 6. Share
Sharing knowledge is easier too. I can imagine sharing the structured expertise that I will have collected for so many years with my kids so that they do not need to start from scratch. Is it parenting 2.0?
"Hello, son. Here's a section on taxes. They won't teach you that in school and I don't want you to waste your time and figure it out when you are 25. And here's another important topic on building healthy habits. You'll thank me later." If someone taught me how to set goals, how to lead a productive life, and how to build a growth mindset, I cannot imagine how farther would I be than I am now.
Sharing with friends and the community is easier too. For example, I could share a section dedicated to blogging: resources, articles, guides, and everything else valuable I found and used since I started blogging. Collected knowledge becomes a curated resource that was once helpful to you and can be helpful for others.
### 7. Benefits for teams and companies
It's also useful to manage knowledge at a team or company level. In most companies, the expertise is linked to a person that works there. As soon as that person leaves, they take the expertise away from the company. To avoid lost information and lost growth opportunities, it's essential to capture the knowledge and pass it to the new members of the team.
Building and maintaining a knowledge system can address several goals.
1. Capture knowledge and share it company-wide to not lose it in the future.
2. Find relevant information when you need it.
3. Enhance cross-disciplinary output.
4. Transform the knowledge into other opportunities.
I am currently working on a template that can help to capture team's expertise so that everyone can grow faster. If you are interested in working together, [welcome to my discord](https://discord.gg/9QnxxJgs).
## How to create Knowledge Management System in Notion
Maintaining a personal knowledge management system consists of three steps.
### Step 1. Structure the knowledge base
The knowledge system I use consists of a database of topics that are interesting or useful to me. The sections in my knowledge lab range from insights I gained to things I want to save for later, and to things I learned.
Create as many topics as you'd like. With experience, you'll learn how to structure the information better on a big and small scale.
### Step 2. Capture experience and knowledge
Whenever you gain insight, try to capture it. If you didn't capture it directly in Notion, transfer it to your knowledge database later.
Use browsers extensions to quickly save links and websites. Create a dashboard to quickly navigate to the right section in the knowledge base and save the information. Another option would be to capture information in a GTD-like inbox and sort it out later.
### Step 3. Maintain
Over time you'll start to understand how to better group information into topics and merge adjacent themes. Schedule maintenance sessions to input, merge, divide, and clean up the information.
Connect your task management system, projects, and ideas to different topics to create 3d dimensional system of linked topics.
## Final thoughts
Thankfully, more and more tools appear on the radar that are made for organizing data and building a comprehensive knowledge system. Whenever you study, research or come up with an idea, spend a minute to capture it in your knowledge template. Later you'll thank yourself.