Tiago Forte’s Framework for Actionable Knowledge

I finished reading Tiago Forte’s book Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential. Yesterday I shared Forte’s PARA method for managing information you consume. I’m still learning about this method and comparing it to others. I may end up modifying my current approach and borrowing some aspects of PARA.

Today I want to zoom out a bit and share the central concept of Forte’s book: his method for capturing and storing information in a “second brain” and then using it as needed. The second brain is “an external, centralized, digital repository for the things you learn and the resources from which they come.” Forte’s approach is called CODE. Here are its pillars:

  • Capture – Capture information and ideas that could be useful later—but only what resonates with you. Forte thinks of it as creating a knowledge bank from all the various sources we encounter on a regular basis (email, podcasts, etc.). Instead of trying to remember all this information, store it digitally.
  • Organize – Organize the information you’ve captured in such a way that it’s actionable. The PARA method is a significant component of this step.
  • Distill – Find the essence of the information you’ve gathered. What’s the core concept or wisdom? Forte uses the progressive summarization technique to find the core and enhance its discoverability for future reference.
  • Express – Express what you’ve learned in smaller chunks, even if everything hasn’t been completed. Forte calls these chunks Intermediate Packets. One thing they’re good for is sharing with others to solicit feedback quickly. He views them as building blocks that are intellectual assets and can be reused in the future.

Forte’s approach doesn’t include anything we haven’t seen or heard before, but it combines components in a simple way that encourages you to think about how to use a second brain to turn information into actionable knowledge.

If you’re interested in learning more, Forte shared a detailed blog post on CODE.