Limits: Expand your Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) system by setting limits

Limits: Expand your Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) system by setting limits

Eric Gregorich

These are some thoughts I had while figuring out my own Personal Knowledge Management system (PKM). I quickly found myself getting consumed by the strategies and tools available and lost focus on the importance of the knowledge itself. I am attempting to step back and gain focus and see what really works for me.

Our PKM Journey

It is too easy to be connected to the digital world, Information is poured over us, and we do everything we can to catch it all.

We develop systems that allow us to collect all of this valuable content and save it later when we will "really need it."

We spend time trying to make our systems perfect so that nothing is forgotten.

Over time, we feel anxiety, but maybe we don't understand why. So we bury ourselves into our systems again so that we feel energized and productive.

Eventually, it breaks down. Don't get me wrong. There is tremendous value in capturing knowledge. It is easy to get lost in the process and forget the purpose of our personal knowledge. Collect -> Understand -> Share.

Limit what we consume

Take a look at everything that comes in at you. Does it bring you value? Value could be from knowledge, understanding, or even entertainment. Does it align with your interests and goals? If not, unsubscribe, unfollow or block it, as it no longer deserves your attention.

Limit how we consume

Over time we accumulate ways to consume content. Start fresh.

Uninstall every app (mobile a desktop) that isn't serving an essential purpose. Disable all non-essential notifications. Give yourself some time to adjust.

"Do you feel a sense of peace with a freshly installed operating system, like I do?"

Do the same for your social networks. Do you need it at all? If not, close your account. If it does bring you value, limit the time you spend on it or set up content restrictions using built-in or external tools.

Limit what we capture

What's truly important to you? Capture it. Text, images, Photos, etc...

Limit how we capture

Start with paper. Many find this is enough and often are surprised how our minds interact with a piece of paper. Writing allows us to think and remember.

If using paper doesn't work for you, what's the next simplest thing? Keep iterating until you find a capture method that feels right. Don't just jump into the deep end using the latest trending apps.

Limit what we process

What's the point of capturing? It's either so we can reference it later or deepen our understanding.

Reference material doesn't need to be processed for understanding. Collect this type of content in a single place so you can easily find it later.

We do need to process knowledge if we genuinely want to understand it. Translate it into your own words. Don't copy it. What ideas does it trigger? Write those down also. We all often forget to do this part. We collect, collect, collect, but don't extract the vital part we truly wanted to begin with.

Limit what we connect

Connecting our knowledge feels like the cool thing to do these days. Without a doubt, it allows for significant insights and ideas that you may have never discovered otherwise. But too many connections can degrade the quality of those relationships. Keep it simple.

Limit what we share

We may feel like there is not much point in collecting all this personal knowledge without sharing it with others. But we should be considerate and not over-saturate others by sharing only quality content and ideas. Otherwise, we are feeding into their own overwhelm, eventually causing them to drop us as they limit what they consume—a vicious cycle.