When I browse articles about productivity and note-taking apps review, the concept of personal knowledge management (PKM) is something that comes often into the scope. It makes me think that PKM is the new black!
After reading a lot of articles about this subject, building a PKM brings note-taking to the next level. The principle is to store in a system the knowledge we acquire by reading books, articles, and all the material that make us learn something. Then all these knowledge concepts can be linked and are searchable.
From my point of view that brings “taking time to consume content” to “investing time to develop knowledge for the long term”, and it may be incredibly powerful.
For that reason, I started to build my own system some time ago and I faced, and I still face, some questions about it.
When browsing the web, you will find plenty of reviews and techniques to create your PKM.
It’s very interesting to read or watch about a theme but from different authors and points of view that can teach you a lot about the pros and cons.
So I read and watched a lot of content from Tiago Forte, Ali Abdaal, Thomas Frank, and Francesco D’Alessio, to only name four productivity specialists.
One thing that is talked about by every author is the system.
The system defines the global view of the process :
- what for app(s) to use ?
- what rules to process new content?
- hot to find things in this system, and how to use this pool of knowledge?
Long story short: there is no unique answer to these questions, it depends on your personal need. In the PKM area, there is no 1 magical solution that embraces anyone’s requirements.
The simpler the better
If you start to build your system, try to make it as simple as possible.
The process of building your own PKM is a bit like learning how to ride a bike. It’s normal that you fall at first, but this is also normal that you learn really fast and then enjoy riding your bike.
In the same way, don’t be scared if it doesn’t work at first or if you don’t find what you are looking for in your system. This is normal, take it easy!
Stick to one system for some time, switching is not good
If you can stick with one tool and you’re comfortable with its interface, then I would stick with it. It’s a lot easier to get good results quickly if you’re using one tool that you know really well than using several tools that you only have a basic understanding of. That being said, you should also experiment with other tools to see how they work and what they can do. It’s always good to have a few different options in your toolkit.
Disclaimer: this section describes my own personal setup. It may not be the right solution for you.
As a note-taking app geek and productivity system nerd, I had the opportunity to try many different apps.
After a long period of tries and app switching, my PKM system landed on Obsidian.
At first glance, I found Obsidian not attractive, and I thought I needed something more UI-friendly, something important to me for daily usage.
But this was just the first glance! After a few tries and some tutorials, it appeared that Obsidian hides a powerful machine behind its simplicity.
Obsidian is a text-based note-taking application that uses Markdown syntax.
Also, notes can be linked using a simple wiki link with “[]”
The 2 main reasons that made me choose obsidian are:
all the content is stored in text files. No proprietary format, no fancy database, just simple plain text files that will always be readable
files are stored locally, with no mandatory cloud storage! I can choose where to store my content, Dropbox, iCloud Drive, Google Drive, …
Also Obsidian let me design my notes by creating my own templates. Don’t expect to run Obsidian for the first time and find a predefined template to use, you have to build your own system. I would compare Obsidian to bullet journaling, flexible, customizable, and very powerful.
I see PKM as a long-term investment, so I choose to make sure my content reflects my way of thinking and will be accessible and readable when I will need it.
In a few words: I must own my knowledge now and in the future!
What about other software?
Nevertheless, I think it’s important to have an open view of all the other tools.
Notion and Roam Research are other top-rated tools with a dedicated audience.
Notion and Roam Research are both excellent note-taking apps, offering proprietary way for knowledge management. If you’re looking for an app with a beautiful UI, or you’re planning to collaborate with people, these two apps have this capacity.
If you’re looking for an app that offers an open ecosystem and a more traditional approach to note-taking, then apps like Evernote or OneNote might be more suitable.
Notion, Roam Research, Evernote, OneNote, Tana, LogSeq… each app has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do your research before choosing the best PKM app for you.
At the end of the day, the most important factor is that you find a system that works for you and that will help you maintain and manage your knowledge effectively.
Building your knowledge management system can be an intimidating task, but it can also be a rewarding experience.
By taking the time to research and reflect on your personal needs and preferences, you can create a system that works for you.
There’s no one-size-fits-all app, so it’s important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of different PKM apps before you commit to one.
No matter what app you decide to use, the ultimate goal should be to create a system that’s both powerful and efficient, helping you to maximize your productivity.
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