Analogue Personal Knowledge - 6 inspiring reasons to use one

Analogue Personal Knowledge - 6 inspiring reasons to use one

I talk a lot about personal knowledge management systems and here’s a new video explaining my new analogue approach.

Going (mostly) analogue allows me to avoid digital distractions as well as slow down the pace. Slowing down means digesting material more thoroughly, and putting it into action – which is how knowledge is gained.

The previous video / post can be found here, where I explain the Capture, Curate, Crunch and Contribute model. I still use this model but I’m now using an A3 notebook to capture the details.

I also like good stationery, so much so that I co-host a podcast about the very subject!

Watch the video or read on for the 6 ideas (plus a bonus one).

The personal knowledge management system (pkms)

My PKMS has been a system that I’ve fine tuned over the years.

From the early days of scraps of paper and notebooks, to something much more focused and useful.

The key with any of these systems though is in the word “personal”. They should work for you – but it’s always helpful seeing how other people are doing this – so you can bring in ideas to your own system.

As with any type of learning the goal is not to merely capture everything and store it for retrieval; it’s to change as a person.

Personal Knowledge Management Systems should support and enable us to learn more, change our behaviours, be better in our role and to contribute what we know to help others.

The idea is to capture, curate, crunch and then contribute what we learn back; it’s to grow and to develop more compentence and skills – and ultimately to become a more fulfilled and better version of ourselves through our behaviours.

This is what I use PKMS for – to become better at what I do.

6 reasons why I’m going analogue

This analogue personal knowledge management system is a way of removing distractions but ultimately everything still ends up in my digital Personal Knowledge Management System digital system for easier retrieval.

My tool of choice in 2023 is a combination of Joplin and Zotero (I'll do a video on this soon). It’s cracking (with some flaws) but overall it’s proving very good indeed.

Reason 1 – Avoid distraction and transcription

Getting away from screens is an essential part of learning for me.

There are simply too many distractions being connected to the computer and my will power is clearly not great. I find myself checking email, researching more and generally distracted by the ever-growing list of things vying for my energy and attention.

Another good reason is because using digital tools means I can transcribe information very easily and quickly, but transcribing what others are saying is not the goal or point. Instead of transcribing it's much better to listen, digest and put into my own words. Using analogue methods helps with this.

I also wanted to stop simply capturing stuff off the internet – after all, it’s easy to simply capture everything – but that’s not the point of a personal knowledge management system either. The point isn’t to gather loads of information, it’s to change as a person through assimilating and accomodating that collected information.

Reason 2 – I was sacrificing effectiveness at the door of efficiency

Computers are extremely efficient devices. They enable us to amplify our effeciency – whether that be through using computing power to store and retrieve information, or using digital tools to make notes, or simply having massive access to a load of resources.

They are effecient.

But I found myself becoming less effective the more I used computers. I wasn’t taking in as much learning points as I used to. I found myself relying on the information in my Personal Knowledge Management System more, rather than turning it into knowledge through action – a cardinal sin in my 4 step model.

Reason 3 – Slowing Down

Like reason number 2, I needed to put this information I was consuming and collecting into action to create knowledge. And this requires slowing down.

I get carried away sometimes with consuming more and more information – after all, there is a wealth of information out there.

You’ve seen these trends on social media to read 1000 books a year and other nonsense like that. The point isn’t to read lots.

It’s to become better by putting that information in to action – and this means slowing down: maybe even consuming just a few books and really putting that information into action.

I found myself trying to rush my learning. But learning isn’t something to be rushed. It takes time to try new ideas, validate their effectiveness and tweak them for my own context.

There is always TOO much to learn – but I needed to get away from that desire to consume everything, and to slow down. Using an analogue Personal Knowledge Management System allows me to do just that. To slow down and truly learn how to become better.

Reason 4 – I’m writing it down to remember it now

There is compelling research out there that suggests than when we write, using a pen and paper, we tend to retain more of what we write.

I see this in my own life a lot. And so this analogue personal knowledge management approach is designed to capitalise on this fact: I am writing stuff down to remember it now, not for the future.

And it works. The more I step away from digital notes to hand-written notes, the more I retain, the more I can recall and the more it seems to make sense.

Reason 5 – I love stationery

I like good stationery, hence I’m a co-host on a rather niche podcast called Stationery Freaks.

I like good pens and the drag factor across paper. I love notebooks and geek out about the gsm and the binding and the covers.

So, it makes sense that I would want to use this stationery for a good purpose.

Reason 6 – I have a place I do this

I’m lucky enough to have a lovely studio space that is just for me.

I have recently invested in an old writing bureau and it is now my place to only do analogue work: writing, drawing, personal knowledge work.

It’s a form of environmental affordance.

When I am here, in this place, I do this sort of work. No digital tools, no laptops, nothing but analogue goodness. And this is where I do this sort of work.

It’s a wonderful way to build routines and habits – by having a simple place to do a certain sort of work. Even if you don’t have an office you can dedicate a certain place in your home to do different types of works. It’s a great aid to building routines and telling your brain – I’m here and I do this sort of work here.

Reason 7 – Bonus Reason – It’s a legacy

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older but I like the idea of my kids inheriting the analogue books filled with my notes, ideas and doodles about skills, behaviours, business, life and the rest.

I suspect, given the rising heating costs, they’ll use them for fuel, but part of me hopes they’ll at least read them first.

They are packed full of a variety of topics and they are my interpretation of the topic, my flavour, my perception, my mind. And that might be interesting for them when I’m gone. Or not.