I recently published my new ebook, a compilation of 19 Praxis posts from 2017, on the Amazon Kindle store.
Read the Foreword below
Foreword from Extend Your Mind
This book is made up of 19 essays (or long-form blog posts) published in 2017 on the Praxis blog.
2017 was the first year we began charging for access to certain articles as part of a new monthly membership program. This meant that I had to stick to a consistent publishing schedule for the first time, which was quite a challenge. I found I had to create new habits and systems to make sure I was researching, reviewing, and sharing my ideas at a regular pace.
In January of 2017 I launched Building a Second Brain, an online course teaching people how to create such habits and systems for themselves. It quickly became apparent that these methods were not just useful for writers and content creators. Virtually everyone has a need to capture their knowledge, and move it through a series of steps to produce results.
The articles in this collection represent the research and development process I went through to develop Building a Second Brain. It contains summaries and dissections of influential books I wanted to incorporate at a deep level. It contains explorations of how ideas from engineering, telecommunications, manufacturing, evolutionary theory, sports instruction, art history, and other fields might teach us something about knowledge management. It also includes stories of my own personal learning process trying to develop these ideas while running a business.
The chapters in the Table of Contents are listed alphabetically, if you’d like to follow the evolution of the ideas through time. Below you will find the same chapters broken down by the purpose they served in my research process.
Borrowing ideas from engineering, manufacturing, and telecommunications
- Bending the Curves of Productivity is an examination of “small-batch” productivity, and how working in short sprints can dramatically improve our effectiveness and enjoyment
- From Multitasking to Multiplexing: 5 Steps to Building a Personal Productivity Network describes the fascinating parallels between telecommunications networks and personal productivity, specifically, how we can potentially increase our bandwidth by 100x using networks
Models I developed for the future of learning and working
- The Future of Online Learning is my take on how online education will evolve in coming years, to become more intimate, intensive, time-limited, and experiential. Many of these ideas came to life in later versions of the Building a Second Brain course
- The Rise of the Full-Stack Freelancer is my model for the future of work – that people will manage portfolios of income streams that give them income security along with flexibility and mobility
- The Rise of the Full-Stack Freelancer, Part II: The Stack is a description of the digital products and services that I use as a Full-Stack Freelancer, as an example of how affordable and scalable the model can be
The psychology and inner experience of modern knowledge work
- A Theory of Unlearning: Ecstasis, Anamnesis, Kenosis is my dissection of the book Stealing Fire by Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler, looking at how immersive experiences and altered states of mind can be used to unlearn limiting beliefs and behaviors
- Mood as Extrapolation Engine: Using Emotions to Generate Momentum is my theory of how to structure work – as a series of accelerating small wins – to produce motivation when we most need it
- The Inner Game of Work: Focus, Desire, and Working Free is my summary of the book The Inner Game of Work, by Timothy Gallwey, exploring the psychological aspect of high performance and how to remove blocks to our natural, intuitive learning
- The Topology of Attention is my take on the nature of attention, how it works, and why it’s so important to understand and shape it to create the experience we want
Extended cognition and how the environment influences how we think
- The World Beyond Your Head: How Distraction Shapes Who We Are is my summary of the book The World Beyond Your Head by Matthew B. Crawford, in which he makes the case that our digital environment is shaping the way we think and thus who we are at a deep level, and argues for a return to tangible skills and communities of practice
- Supersizing the Mind: The Science of Cognitive Extension is my dissection of the book Supersizing the Mind by Andy Clark, in which he lays out the core principles of the emerging science of extended cognition
History and broader context of personal knowledge management
- Getting Things Done + Personal Knowledge Management is my explanation of how these two methods are perfect complements, working together to allow an individual to manage all the information coming their way and profoundly transform their effectiveness
- Masters of Creative Note-Taking: Luhmann and Da Vinci tells the story of two master note-takers from history, German sociologist Niklas Luhmann and Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, and how they managed their note collections
Personal growth and how it relates to effectiveness
- The Throughput of Learning is a philosophical essay originally published on the Ribbonfarm blog, in which I argue that revealing mistaken assumptions is the deeper purpose of learning, borrowing ideas from the Toyota Production System and the Theory of Constraints
- Strategically Constrained: How to Turn Limitations Into Opportunities is my dissection of the book A Beautiful Constraint by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden, looking at how failures and limitations can be turned into strategic advantages, for individuals and companies alike
- A Productivity Expert Goes to Burning Man is my account of my first experience at Burning Man, a temporary city and arts festival erected in the Nevada desert every year
Practical methods for automating productivity
- The Weekly Review is an Operating System is a summary of my weekly review checklist, developed over years of trial and error
- The Monthly Review is a Systems Check is a summary of my monthly review process, including a checklist template you can use to design a review of your own
- The Annual Review is a Rearchitecture is a summary of my annual review, including the big picture questions I ask myself at the end of each year to guide the upcoming year
Thank you for your support, and for allowing me to share so much of my behind-the-scenes process. The past year has been an incredible journey in pursuit of a “second brain,” and it is my greatest privilege to be able to spend my time helping others begin that journey themselves.
August 7, 2018
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