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  • 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 textuh, textuh, 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 ofif 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.