Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles We talked with Ali Abdaal about his Second Brain: the Idea Factory he used to build a team of 20 employees and a 3-million subscriber YouTube channel. In this detailed walkthrough, we'll talk about the four steps of Ali's Second Brain process: his system for where notes go, and the specific apps he uses every step of the way. This is Ali Abdaal's Second Brain. ? First, let's start with Capture. So Capture is about getting it outside of your brain, social media, the world, and into some trusted single place where you can start to work with it. What are the different ways that you capture information? Okay, so many. The first one is Physical Notebook. Perfect. I still like Physical Notebook. I kind of go between various ones, depending on how I'm feeling. Recently. Last week or so. I've started Morning Pages. So I have this other notebook where I do three pages of, like, handwritten-y text – uh, text – uh, WRITING (both laugh) And if I'm capturing notes on the fly, usually I just use Apple Notes because all the other apps, they kind of suck online. And I'm often in for example, if I'm in a restaurant and I'm in the toilet downstairs where there's no signal and no WiFi, and that goes into Apple Notes. That's apple notes on your phone, right? That's right. Occasionally apple notes on my Mac as well. It's very easy to just pop it open with Alfred (app) and I have multiple folders. It's basically almost like, Evernote, but it's just such an easy place to just chuck stuff into, and I can kind of forget about it. And I know that, again, (tip from your course) if I ever need to find something, I can just search for it rather than having to worry about the specific folder and the specific tag and all of that. Generally, I do a lot of automated capture stuff. Okay. So I don't have to think about it too much. Perfect. So Readwise is like the center of my capture system, so that if I'm reading on Kindle and I highlight on Kindle, it goes into Readwise. If I'm reading on Instapaper, it goes into Readwise. More recently, I'm using the beta version of Readwise's Reader app, which is sort of Mac web iOS. So when I highlight on that, it goes into Readwise, and then Readwise syncs into my Roam and my Notion and all that kind of stuff further down the line. I use Day One as my journal app. So if it's like journaling and it's private, I'll turn it into day one. Often, if I'm writing a daily note in Roam, I'll just copy paste it into Day One anyway, just because I like having the data. And I've been using day one for five years plus now, so it's a nice stream of daily journaling, daily thoughts, that kind of stuff. I do use Todoist as, like, kind of – if it's a task and I want to capture it, I'll chuck in Todoist. Occasionally I'll just do a voice memo, But the app I use most often is Otter.ai, for example, I'm having a conversation with someone and I know this is a conversation that would be useful to record and transcribe things, I'll just open up otter on my phone trying to put it down in between us and it's just doing it. Cool, isn't it? It's so cool. Do you have anything for YouTube videos? Clips from or transcripts from YouTube videos? No, I don't really watch YouTube videos for that kind of knowledge. I tend to watch them all for the entertainment or the oh, that's a cool transition. But actually when that happens, I use an app called CleanShot which lets me capture a sort of screen recording and turn it into a .GIF. Perfect. And so when that happens, I get that GIF and I put it into a mood board for the YouTube channel. Nice title and subtle entrance animation. Very cool. From this masterclass by Gary. I want to do this for our channel and then I just send this to our editors to be like, hey, this is a cool thing. In my mind, when I capture something, I have an idea of what I'm capturing it for. So for example, I tend to use Apple Notes and Roam – a combination of the two for personal note taking, and also for my book. But we exclusively use Notion for anything related to the team, anything related to YouTube videos. If for example, I have random thought in the shower "Daily Highlight method for productivity", then I'm thinking, okay, is it relevant for a book thing or is it relevant for a YouTube video thing? If it is relevant for a book thing, I'll chuck it into Apple Notes or into Roam. And if it's relevant for a YouTube thing, I'll just chuck it straight into Notion. Sometimes it's both and then it gets a bit messy. But I don't think about it too hard. There's no speed limit. You can go as fast as you want and if you know where to put something absolutely why waste the effort that you just put in to decide where that goes? Just put it straight there. What I would question though is what happens when you don't know what is the plan B? Is there like a safety net where things can go, like a Daily Note section or an inbox where in case you don't have time to decide where it goes, you can just stick it there? Yeah, I usually just stick it in Apple Notes and then I usually forget about it because I don't actually have a solid review process. The Daily Notes feature in Roam and the equivalent app is surprisingly helpful. May 17 I was just like, I need somewhere to put stuff. I happen to have Roam with me because I was on the computer and I was on line. So if you don't come back to this and kind of redo it, there's no penalty. You don't feel bad. Didn't get to it. Yesterday I had a chat with Daniel and Tristan from Readwise, "Discussed Book Pitch, Read Wise and Reader potential course idea course aiming for August 2022" and then as I was doing that, because I've been using room for a while, I was like, oh, this is a course, let me make this course page. Of course, probably have a good goal setting. When was this? I must have kind of done this course like two years ago when I was getting into buying property. I often talk to people who seem to think they need one capture tool, one capture source, which is absurd. I mean, look at this list! What is the unit of output that I care about? And then let's just do whatever it takes to get to that as efficiently and as sort of frictionlessly as possible. And I think the mistake a lot of people make is that they're wedded to the organization of the system as if the system is a unit of output. So, for example, no shade on August Bradley or Marie Poulin. But if you're them and you're selling a course on how to use notion, then it pays to have a really nice notion setup. But I think people kind of overly index on oh my God, august Bradley has made incredible notion set up. I need to do the same rather than thinking what do I actually care about? Rather than have pretty money and stuff. Now, step two of Ali's Second Brain: Organize. So for "Organize," How I would think of this is just where things go. Where do they go in terms of an app? Where they go in terms of a folder or a tag or a category? You just want some place that you know when you have the idea, "We want animations for YouTube videos," like you showed us with the mood board, you know where to go. The thing is, a lot of these "capture" sources are also "organize" sources. And so, for example, Apple Notes tend to stay in Apple Notes unless it is a thing that's going to become a YouTube video, in which case it goes into Notion because that's how we manage our YouTube videos. Or unless it is a thing that's going to become part of the book, in which case it either goes into Roam or just stays in Apple Notes.